Howie Rose’s foreword in Amazin’ Again by Greg W. Prince, immediately struck a chord with me. He applauded the talents of baseball beat writers, admiring their ability to present comprehensive, well-written accounts of baseball games under the constant pressure of looming deadlines. While I am not a professional writer, I do have a deadline, so here goes.
Like Rose and Prince, I am a lifelong New York Mets fan. One of the undeniable ironies of the 2015 season is its mirror image of the iconic championship season of 1969—one that I have vivid memories of as a young Mets fan. The 2015 opening day opponents were the Washington Nationals (formerly the Montreal Expos). The 1969 opponents in the opener? The Expos.
In September of ’69, Cardinals future Hall of Famer Steve Carlton, was dominating the Mets by setting a then-major league record 19 strikeouts, yet lost the game as Ron Swoboda (my personal Mets hero as a kid) proceeded to hit a pair of two-run homers to beat the Cards 4-3.
Prince takes us through the entire season, beginning with the final game of 2014, a season where the Mets came up short once again, left with that terrible feeling that we were “running in place and walking in circles,” but perhaps with a hint of progress. The chapters in the book are rolled out like the 2015 season itself, from “How We Got Here” to “How We Got Going” and “How We Got Transformed” and finally “How We Got Ourselves A Pennant.”
Reading Amazin’ Again reminded me of those feelings of mid-season despair that had become all too familiar as a Mets fan; anger towards ownership, and just thinking we were doomed to never rise above mediocrity. We learned our captain David Wright had developed spinal stenosis, a debilitating condition that left huge question marks, and rookie pitching phenom Zack Wheeler was shut down and required Tommy John surgery. What next?
Then, it began to happen. We see a young rookie pitcher and Mets fan from Long Island named Steven Matz take the mound and dominate the Cincinnati Reds with his bat as well as his arm. Hope springs eternal at Citifield.
While we didn’t win the World Series, we did make it there and I, for one, feel no shame in our performance. We posted our first winning record since 2008, first post-season appearance since 2006 and first league title since 2000.
If you are a die-hard Mets fan, or know one, this book is a must-have as it offers a true fan’s perspective into the details we all experienced during that amazing season. Prince ends the book with “My gosh, that was fun.” Yes it was.
Frank Virga is the president of Anton Media Group.