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“Why don’t they ever listen to me?”

The Rheingold beer commercial that depicted a Mets fan talking back to his television after the team didn’t follow his advice on a bunt-or-swing-away situation wasn’t so funny to me. I, too, would offer counsel to the television and my hapless Mets never listened to me either.

PHOTO: Rheingold's commemorative plate of the genius.

My father would watch me trudge up to bed with my wimpy countenance after yet another heartbreaker. I still don't know how I ever fell asleep with such deep and rich misery pasted on my boyhood psyche.

But the long strand of losses taught me innumerable lessons about the rag-tag team from Queens. It was only in following them every game and learning their weaknesses (and a strength here or there) that I got to know each player and how they could help or hinder for the greater good.

This translated into pitching changes, pinch hitters and runners, bunting and hit-and-run strategies, pitch-outs and pitch-arounds.

After a few years of these sickening seasons, The Mets finally got a break. They hired one of the finest men and managers of all time: Gil Hodges. The former perennial All Star had a knack for using every second-hand, beat-up, has-been and getting a huge lift from a good pitching staff that would include future Hall-of-Famer Tom Seaver.

Within two short seasons, Hodges would transform the cellar-finishing team into “The Miracle Mets.” It wasn’t their World Series win that I remember as much as the day-in-day-out decisions that Gil Hodges would cleverly contrive. There was some sort of simpatico between Gil and me. Vicariously, I’d call for a certain reliever to warm up. Seconds later, Hodges would make that call to the bullpen. I sat next to a friend at Shea Stadium watching a September 1969 Pirates-Mets game and called every one of Hodges’ moves. My buddy was amazed.

Actually, it was from getting to know the players and the brilliant mind of Hodges.

I was too young for a Rheingold, but The Mets were finally “listening to me.”

PORTAL TO HEAVEN: We gravitate to what we know and we know what we know from our interests and talents. It’s what we know that helps form our theology and philosophy. But life has more curves than the best baseball pitcher. If we get too comfortable leaning on what we know, we’ll soon find out that we need the unfathomable knowledge of our Player-Coach.

O, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and untraceable His ways! ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor?’

Romans 11:33,34 (BSB)


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