Enter the 2001 New York Metropolitans.
Sworn rivals until the bitter end, the Atlanta Braves came to our shattered city on September 21, 2001. It was no longer a city where dreams came true, but where lives were ripped from the Earth. It was a city crying for healing, not knowing where to go or what to do. The Braves were no longer our enemies. They were merely our fellow Americans feeling and sharing in our pain. Maybe some of them lost loved ones on that day. It was a unity never shared among rivals. It took a tragedy to unite us. People came to the ballpark to take a break from what had happened.
It was the bottom of the eighth inning at our beloved Shea Stadium. The New York Metropolitans were down by one run when the Flushing hero Mike Piazza came to the plate with a heavy heart. Fans looked to him for hope. With one swing, he became America’s catcher, America’s hitter, America’s hero. It took a home run to left center to send Mets fans and all of America into a frenzy. It was a release of epic proportions. It was euphoric. It was energizing.
It was healing.
Fast forward to May 1, 2011. Enter 2011 New York Mets.
Recently declared top nemesis, Philadelphia Phillies were playing the New York Metropolitans when it happened. The world stopped one more time. The President of the United States, Barack Obama, announced the murder of America’s most wanted, Osama Bin Laden, by an attack operation carried out by the Navy Seals. Fans in the stands, standing united as Americans instead of enemies, began chanting “USA! USA! USA!” as they were all getting the word via cell phones and the big screen at Citizens Bank Park about what had just happened.
Top of the 14th inning tied at 1-1.
David Wright is on second base. Jason Bay at first. Having only come back on Friday, Mets catcher Ronny Paulino comes to the plate. He had a big night. It would only get bigger. Paulino stood at the plate. Bat ready. He stares down Phillies pitcher Kyle Kendrick. With one swing, he hit the ball to left field. Wright comes home. The Mets are up 2-1 and manage to hold the lead to win the game.
It seemed appropriate what happened last night. As one reader pointed out to me, Bobby Valentine was in the booth, the announcement of Bin Laden’s death, and another Mets catcher wins the game for the City who was forever changed by one moment in time.
Memories of 9/21/11 and what Piazza did began to flood Facebook and possibly Twitter. Our hero. Our healer.
United we watched. United we cried. United we stood. United we fought. United we will remain. Soldiers fought the good fight and were rewarded with a victory that brings so many closure. A job well done all around. The only thing left to do, is to bring our men and women home.