Monday, December 17, 2012

For Real This Time

Thank you, Mike Nickeas.  Thank you for giving me my favorite memories as a Mets fan.  Thank you for making the dreams of any sports fan come true for me.  Thank you for always being a class act and never outwardly showing that you were sick of seeing me.

I am probably one of few that will miss Mike Nickeas.  He truly was my favorite player.  At times that made me feel silly or stupid.  I questioned whether I should just move on and dedicate my fandom to David Wright or Ike Davis.  But I'm glad I never changed.  Rooting for Mike Nickeas was the coolest thing I could ever do.  He brought me closer to baseball than I ever imagined I would be.

My first time at Spring Training.  My first minor league baseball game.  His first Major League call-up.  Sitting where I am now and being utterly shocked at his response to my letter.  When he remembered me at Spring Training.  And remembered me again at every game I went to.  That time I almost had a coherent conversation with him.  The best day of my life.

That first year I rooted for him I followed the New Orleans Zephyrs games on GameDay.  I remember almost injuring myself one time after he hit a grand slam.  I devoted so many hours to reading box scores and game recaps, hoping for one mention of him.  I really had no idea what I was getting myself into.

These are memories I would never trade for anything.  These are memories I have brought up over and over again because I still can't believe they're real.  They include me rooting for him once as a Bison.  He's probably going to be a Bison again.  The MLB affiliation and uniform design have changed but that's it.  My spirit and dedication will be as strong as ever.  This trade can shake me but it certainly will not break me.  The idea of Mike Nickeas in another organization isn't really something I like thinking about.  Unfortunately, it's reality.

This trade was necessary.  I like thinking about the fact that Mike Nickeas, Josh Thole, and R.A. Dickey are traveling as one.  I like realizing that the Blue Jays took him when seemingly everybody else in the Mets system was available.  He was wanted by the Blue Jays and that's a heck of a lot better than being a spare part.  I have no reason to believe the Mets organization treated Mike with anything but the class he deserves.

This trade is the first trade that really tests me as a fan.  It tests whether I root for the player or the "laundry."  I can think of Mets I still love rooting for, but there's such a gap between my level of interest in any of them and Mike.  I don't think there will be an answer until the season starts.  I've never wanted to get the offseason over with more than I do right now.

The bright side of this trade is that while Josh Thole and Mike are gone, they are with the same team.  They are spending the next chapter of their careers together, which is so fitting for both of them.  I also don't have to stay up all night to watch Mike Nickeas play and I don't have to get accustomed to the other half of the AAA affiliates.  I also happen to really like the Bisons broadcasters and now I get to keep listening to them.  I'm also lucky the Blue Jays are in the AL East since it happens to be pretty easy for me to go to Yankee Stadium.

The Blue Jays also don't seem to have anyone in their system above Mike on the AAA depth chart.  Maybe he'll be with the team on one of their visits to Yankee Stadium.

A little over a month ago I thought his days as a Met were over.  At that point I wrote, "Whatever happens, it won't be the same."

It certainly isn't the same.

Mike Nickeas is no longer with the Mets.  Mike Nickeas is with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Good luck with the Blue Jays.  Or the Bisons.  Both, I guess.  You did more than you ever had to do here.  I will never regret making you my favorite player.  You were the best favorite I could ever ask for.  I hope the Blue Jays treat you with the respect you deserve and I can only look forward to how much more this change will teach me about baseball.

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