Questek for Your Baseball Library: New York Mets 50 Amazin' Seasons: The Complete Illustrated History
When the 1962 Mets were 0-9, a psychologist writing in the New York Times weighed in on the inner life of the new team's fans: "becoming emotionally involved with them is a kind of masochism. A kind of painless flagellation."
We now know that the prescient doctor had that half right: it is flagellation but it is by no means painless. Matthew Silverman's handsome new volume New York Mets 50 Amazin' Seasons: The Complete Illustrated History (MVP Books, 2011) can be seen as a celebration of the good doctor's naivete, and perhaps fuel for the silly hope at the core of every Met fan's psyche.
The book would be great to page through after one of the dispiriting loses characteristic of the waning years of the "New Mets"era, letting the thereputic memories of Seaver, Keith, Alfonzo, Olerud, and Robin wash over you. Or Mookie, the Kid, Tug and Rickey if that is more your taste. Or, more ignominiously, Nails, Kaz, Anthony Young, and Mr. Koo.
Silverman does a nice job arranging reproductions of team ephemera and high gloss photos around a smooth narrative of Mets history. Occasionally, he captures key Met moments with eloquent economy, such as the "long winter" that followed the Mets loss to the Yankees in the 2000 World Series where devastating memories are "recurring images flickered in darkened bedrooms late at night." Or explaining Cleon Jones' dark 1973 and the story behind his mutiny against Yogi Berra over an unrevealed injured leg taping: "The stubborn Jones did not tell his manager, and his manager drew a line in the sand, which the Mets hierarchy soon stuck their head in."
The layout is pleasing to the eye, the text peppered but not cluttered by info boxes, and there is a handy all time record book in the back of the book. When "meaningful games" return to Flushing during some future fall, perhaps fueled by the players in the book's last few pictures (Ike, Dickey), we now have a coffee table book up to the task of placing our small successes in their historical context, while tempering our enthusiasm.
Verdict: If you don't have a coffee table, you may want to get one so you have somewhere to put this beautiful book. (Note: don't buy a glass table since after all you are a Mets fan). The book can be purchased on Amazon.