Six Years after “The Catch”; A conversation of past and present

It has been six years – SIX YEARS – since Endy Chavez made maybe the most memorable catch in the history of the New York Mets. In Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals, Endy leaped high above the left field wall to snag Scott Rolen’s potential two-run home run and had the presence of mind to hit his cut-off man, Jose Valentin, to double off Jim Edmonds from first base.

Taking a look back at “The Catch”, 23-year old Greg Kaplan decided it was finally time to sit down 17-year old Greg Kaplan and have a long, truthful talk about all that has happened in the six years since this lifetime mile marker…

17-year old GK: This is a dark, dark day, older GK. Very dark. Endy did the impossible, catching that ball high above the left field wall and doubling off Edmonds. Right there, in that moment, I thought that there was no possible way for the Mets to lose. That was our moment. That was our signature highlight of the 2006 season! I just don’t understand.

23-year old GK: Trust me, I know what you’re going through.

17-year old GK: This had the makings to be the greatest week ever in my life. Let’s review everything that happened:

– Spent each day at the luxurious Fass household watching the games over his stone fireplace on a huge HDTV

– Saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers at the IZOD Center with three buddies during Game 5 with the arena breaking out in a Let’s Go Mets chant as everybody files out

– Went to Game 6 with Papa Kaps

– Got that calculus exam pushed back three times because the teacher was a Mets fan and understood that you wouldn’t be studying at all that week because of the games

– Endy’s catch

Game 7 was Thursday night. Friday had the potential to be the most euphoric/ridiculous day in my high school career. I’ve already applied to my two colleges of choice. I couldn’t care less about school work right now. I could’ve had a day-long celebration in the hallways!

Instead, I have people asking me if someone in my family died because I’m moping around so obviously. You know, I had the tree picked out on the way home last night that I was going to ram the white Honda into, right?

23-year old GK: I’m very familiar with this story, yes.

17-year old GK: Tell me you have something positive to tell me moving forward. I don’t want to be 17 again.

23-year old GK: Don’t you dare start quoting semi-watchable Zach Efron movies with me…actually, that’s something I would do now. You’re fine.

As far as positive goes, I really hope you’re not looking for good news on the Mets front, right?

17-year old GK: Well, this team is built to be great for the next few years. This is the start of something great, right? We have at least three more division titles in us, yeah?

23-year old GK: Nope. Not one, actually.

17-year old GK: Bullshit. Wild Cards then?

23-year old GK: Not even one playoff berth.

17-year old GK: How in the world is that remotely possible?

23-year old GK: Well, you’re going to get out to a fantastic start next year. But, you’re going to blow a huge lead in September thanks to the bullpen literally falling apart before your eyes. You’re going to suffer through a loss, at home, to the Marlins, on the last day of the season as Tom Glavine can’t get out of the first inning as you stand awe-struck at home, as the Phillies, you’re new mortal enemy, walk away with the crown.

17-year old GK: I don’t believe you.

23-year old GK: It gets better. Your faith in the Mets is going to be restored after the season when the Mets trade for Johan Santana without dealing Fernando Martinez. You’re going to think not trading Martinez, at the time, is a big deal.

17-year old GK: We’re getting Johan?! THAT’S AWESOME!!

23-year old GK: At the time, it is. Teddy is going to keep texting and calling you during Italian until you realize what’s going on.

17-year old GK: Wait…I’m taking Italian in college?

23-year old GK: You’re going to do a lot of stupid things in college. We’ll revisit that in a second. Johan is going to have the year of his life, but the Mets are going to struggle and they’ll fire Willie Randolph in favor of Jerry Manuel, and the Mets are going to bounce back in a big way.

17-year old GK: Really? Willie?

23-year old GK: Yup. Manuel is going to get the Mets into contention, but the Brewers are going to trade for C.C. Sabathia, and they’re going to catch the Mets in the Wild Card standings. The good news: you’ll get to see the last Mets win ever in Shea Stadium history as Johan picthes the game of his life and, arguably, it’s the greatest game you’ll ever see. The bad news: the Mets lose on the last day of the season, again. To the Marlins, again. And the Brewers go to the playoffs, not you.

17-year old GK: You’ve got to be kidding me. This team? These Mets? Our team, our time? No playoffs between until 2009?

23-year old GK: No playoffs ever. 2009 Omar Minaya is going to trick you into thinking that all the problems were because the bullpen was terrible again. I mean, Billy Wagner blew out his elbow and you’re putting a lot of faith in Luis Ayala, you really should’ve seen it coming. So, Omar brings in J.J. Putz in a three-team trade for Heilman and Joe Smith.

17-year old GK: Putz?? That’s awesome!

23-year old GK: Not awesome. He’ll get hurt and miss the majority of the season.

17-year old GK: Oh.

23-year old GK: He’s also going to give K-Rod a big three-year contract.

17-year old GK: Whaaaaaaat?? Amazing!

23-year old GK: Not amazing. The things K-Rod is going to be best known for is becoming the first Mets player to spend time in Citi Field’s own jail and having fans pray he actually doesn’t finish games so that his vesting option for a fourth season doesn’t become guaranteed.

17-year old GK: That’s bullshit.

23-year old GK: You’re also going to regret those contracts you give to Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez. And by regret, I mean Omar Minaya is going to lose his job over them. They’re going to become so immovable and just terrible players, both will be released outright for absolutely nothing. And you’ll be happy about it.

17-year old GK: This is too much.

23-year old GK: Oh, and Jose Reyes is leaving after the 2011 season.

17-year old GK: Fuck you.

23-year old GK: I’m serious.

17-year old GK: No, you’re not. Reyes is never going anywhere. He and Wright are the staples of this Mets team. Ted and I are going to the game when they retire Reyes’ #7 and Wright’s #5 after they retire. He’s a  career Met. He’s going to own the record books. He’s the most exciting player in baseball! How is he leaving? You’re lying.

23-year old GK: Not lying. The Mets are going to get caught up in this Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme business, making money tight, but that’s not even going to be the real reason. The real reason is Reyes is going to remind everybody that after 2008, he’s still an injury-prone player with an incredibly high ceiling. He’s going to get hurt in 2009 and 2010, then win the batting title in 2011 for a Mets team that could’ve competed if they didn’t trade Beltran mid-season (have I mentioned this yet? This is happening, too), then go to free agency and get a ridiculously high offer from the Marlins, who are now the Miami Marlins, and sign there.

17-year old GK: You’re breaking my heart. Where are my positives?  Where’s my silver lining?

23-year old GK: Well, we’ve still got David Wright. He’s not going to enjoy Citi Field all that much the first few years. In fact, Matt Cain is going to give him a concussion in ’09, he’s going to be decent in 2010 with very few home runs, then he’s going to practically break his back in 2011 and struggle. He rebounds nicely though in 2012, and the Mets are actually going to keep him.

17-year old GK: Well, thank god.

23-year old GK: You’re also going to fall in love with a pitcher named R.A. Dickey.

17-year old GK: Never heard of him.

23-year old GK: You wouldn’t have. His a knuckle-baller now, and he’s the man. He’s probably going to win a Cy Young in 2012 after winning 20+ games and leading the league in strike outs.

17-year old GK: Well, that’s nice, at least. What about prospects? What about the future? Wait, while I have you, where am I? What’s going on?

23-year old GK: Ah, yes. Probably should’ve started with this. Well, let’s see. How do we sum this all up…

You’re going to Marist College. This is actually what you wanted. You’re the guy that literally applied early decision two days ago to get in there. Congratulations, you got in.

17-year old GK: Woo!

23-year old GK: Stop hanging out with Berry. He’s an asshole. And stop hooking up with that girl Joanna. She’s psychotic.

17-year old GK: Kind of saw that coming. Prom? Who do I ask to prom?

23-year old GK: Nobody.

17-year old GK: …what?

23-year old GK: You’re actually going to be asked to prom by someone. She’s a very nice girl, you’ll like her. You’re also going to be asked to the junior prom. Funny story, she’s also a very nice girl, and a closet Mets fan. Don’t worry, you’ll screw both of these up in the long run.

17-year old GK: You know, this conversation isn’t what I hoped for.

23-year old GK: It gets better. In college, you’re going to discover alcohol.

17-year old GK: What? I already drink.

23-year old GK: Trust me, you don’t. You’ll have some seriously hilarious highs and really embarrassing lows. You’re going to discover a terrible habit of punching walls and doors. You’re going to bust a knuckle in your right hand when you punch a street light (seriously, you’re the idiot that’s about to punch a street light). However, you’re also going to meet the most hilarious and reliable group of friends you could ever imagine meeting. They’re going to put up with you through the dark times and make the good times all the better.

17-year old GK: But am I going to have sex?

23-year old GK: …yes. Yes you will.

17-year old GK: OK. We’re good then.

23-year old GK: Mom and Dad are leaving Westport.

17-year old GK: I take back what I just said.

23-year old GK: Yup, they’re moving out to Cooperstown, NY. You know, a place that’s really nice for a long weekend trip, but after four days you want to get the hell out because you’ve run out of things to do? That’s where you’ll be living full time in college. You’re going to spend a summer in New Jersey with your cousins, which will be an experience, then you’re going to spend a summer in NY, and you’re going to get arrested.

17-year old GK: ….

23-year old GK: Long story short, you were hungover, your boss hadn’t paid you in about six weeks, owed you $700+, said the wrong thing about Mom, and you flipped a shit, saying you’re going to crawl up his ass and stay there until he gave you your money. You’re going to have to do 40 hours of community service for this one. Nice job.

17-year old GK: :(

23-year old GK: The go-to face is actually :P…that’s a really good story. I’m not sharing that one with you. You’ll learn that on your own.

Oh, and you’re living in Savannah, GA now. Remember how you swore you’ll never live outside the New York market because you always wanted to watch the Mets? You’ll be fine. You’ll have MLB.tv. And a real job. And you’ll be on TV within a year after college, so its worth it.

17-year old GK: I guess so. That’s nice and all, but you strayed away from the point. What about the Mets? Where are they going? Are things looking up?

23-year old GK: Honestly, I really don’t know. We got some prospects (Wheeler, Harvey, Familia, you’ll learn), but we still have some terrible contracts (Jason Bay. You’re going to hate Jason Bay). I don’t know what to tell you. This team has a lot of work to do.

17-year old GK: But, I’m still going to love the Mets right?

23-year old GK: Yeah. Yeah you’ll be fine.