‘Once Upon a Time’ provides comfort from current Mets’ reality

Time was, the best and easiest way to ease whatever was ailing you was to open your record cabinet (old guy alert!) grab a stack of well-worn album jackets (OGA 2!) carefully clear the dust and residue from the album’s grooves (OGA 3!) and plug a set of headphones the size of a space helmet into your stereo.

Then let “Born to Run” or “Revolver” or “Dark Side of the Moon” or “Exile on Main Street” or “The Unforgettable Fire” take a broom to whatever was weighing heavy on your mind. Usually, by the time “Jungleland” or “Eclipse” came on, you were in a better place.

Later, movies did that trick, but you had to be lucky to run into them early enough so you could still catch Butch and Sundance cracking wise before deciding to take on the Bolivian army, before Worm and Mike McD run into the state troopers, before Eddie puts together the Colts Quiz for his fiancée Elyce.

(OGA 4: The advent of DVDs and streaming pretty much took the luck out of that.)

We have something else now.

(And as a disclaimer, we should say here: Nobody should ever truly get “depressed” about the outcome of a sporting event, no matter how hideous that outcome must be.)

Mets fans have gotten to relive the 1986 World Series recently via the “Once Upon a Time in Queens” documentary.
Mets fans have gotten to relive the 1986 World Series recently via the “Once Upon a Time in Queens” documentary.
AP

Of course, we know better. As much as we love sports as a diversion, as a wonderful source of joy and passion and energy and love, we also know there is a flip side. We know sports can keep us up at night. We know sports can inspire anger. And as a result, we know that sports sometimes needs to find its own antidotes to deal with all of this craziness.

This, I think, is where the value of “Once Upon a Time in Queens” comes in.

Look, I think even the most devoted fans of the 1986 Mets — hell, I think most of the ’86 Mets themselves — would probably admit that the last thing the world needed was one more under-the-hood look at the comings and goings of that team, which won exactly one title, which never came close to its destiny of dynasty, which serves mostly as a cautionary sporting tale as anything else.

But you know something?

I heard from an awful lot of Mets fans this week who took in every second of that four-part documentary, inhaled it, listened to one more version of just how badly they wrecked the plane home from Houston, who heard one more interpretation of Keith Hernandez telling Jesse Orosco “throw another fastball and I’ll kill you” at the end of Game 6 of the NLCS.

And they did it because a couple of channels away, over on SNY, the real-time version of the Mets spent the week being officially ushered out of relevance by (appropriately enough) the Cardinals, because sometimes you want to know that Orosco is damn sure going to strike out Kevin Bass or Marty Barrett and not leave it up to chance (and worse) that Jeurys Familia is going to keep anyone in the ballpark he needs to keep in the ballpark.

We take comfort in the familiar, in a great song like “Eleanor Rigby,” in a great line like, “Boy, I got vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals,” in “Nails” Dykstra always ending Game 3 of the NLCS with one home run and beginning Game 3 of the World Series with another.

For sports fans, these kinds of things aren’t just helpful, they are also necessary. I know more than one Jets fan who requires at least one annual viewing of the NFL Network documentary about the 1968 season, Alec Baldwin’s extra-dramatic narration lending gravitas to the good times. Knicks fans can be forgiven if there are a couple of times a year when “When the Garden Was Eden” is the nightly entertainment.

And even the happiest in our midst — those who root for the Giants and Yankees — suffered a Thursday night to rank with any Jets fan/Mets fan parlay the other night, and they can be forgiven if they spent Friday sifting through their video library of the 1998 World Series or Super Bowl XXI.

It may not be “Tumbling Dice” at ear-splitting volume. But whatever works, right?

Vac Whacks

If you not only like baseball but you enjoy getting submerged in it, immersed in it, then you must at your earliest convenience order a copy of “The Baseball 100,” by my pal Joe Posnanski. Trust me, it is unlike any other baseball book you’ve ever read.


If you remember what Saquon Barkley looked like before the knee, there is really only one way to root whenever he touches the ball now. And that 41-yarder the other night was enough to allow you to dream about that again.

Saquon Barkley
Saquon Barkley
AP

The Mets and Tuesday’s Children will commemorate two decades of working together when the organization honors six members of the 2001 team for their work with children after 9/11. Bobby Valentine, John Franco, Al Leiter, Todd Zeile, Edgardo Alfonzo and Robin Ventura will be feted at a dinner at Citi Field on Thursday.


Fewer of those, please, “Ted Lasso.”

Whack Back at Vac

Ken Whitehead: It seemed like Yankees snuck into Giants uniforms during the game Thursday night. Watching those two games on the same night had me awake at 1:42 a.m.

Vac: For fans of the Yankees/Giants persuasion, that actually sounds like a full and sound night’s sleep, given the circumstances.

Rob Schwartz: There is more than a touch of irony in this Sunday’s Jets vs. Patriots game. Twenty years ago, after a week break due to 9/11, the Jets played the Patriots. Midway through the game, the Jets knocked out Drew Bledsoe and Bill Belichick put in, as his replacement, Tom Brady. And Bledsoe became the Wally Pipp of football.

Vac: I can’t be the only one to think that Mo Lewis should’ve been voted a few of those Patriots Super Bowl shares for taking out Bledsoe at old Foxboro Stadium that day.

@AsaOlivier: Steve Cohen bought the Mets saying he wanted to model it after the Dodgers. Mark Walter gave the incumbent GM Ned Colletti a chance and saw it wasn’t working, bounced him for Andrew Friedman. Cohen might take a lesson from this.

@MikeVacc: I suspect he already has.

Joe Shepherd: Instead of exit signs at MetLife, they should post Evacuation Routes, as required by FEMA for disasters.

Vac: That one’s been sitting there, for years, just waiting for someone to tee it up. Good for you, Joe!

Advertisement