071806 Except for the Marlins throwing a few fish into the Tigers’ open jaws (which seems like eons ago), the biggest news in the baseball world lately has centered around steroids and the Mitchell report.

I don’t wish to address this subject except to say that it is quite obvious that players one watches in person and on television on a regular basis can obviously be leading lives off the field that, when brought to the attention by the media, often come as a disappointment to their fans. 

It did not come as a surprise to me, personally, the number of players involved nor any specific individuals named in the Mitchel report, but I gather a lot of fans registered shock at both.

Maybe this sense of "betrayal" felt by some fans might come from the mistaken thinking that–because they see these players so regularly in such close proximity, e.g., extreme close-ups shots on TV, batting practice, etc., they feel a certain familiarity with players that actually doesn’t exist.  In truth, they probably know very little about the person inside the athlete. 

But one can also make a discovery about an athlete’s off-the-field conduct that can engender even more admiration, respect, and loyalty from a fan than he or she had for the athlete before. 

Thanks to Daily News writer Peter Botte, I made just such a discovery yesterday about a Met player.

Back in September, as the days of the season dwindled away and with it the Mets’ lead in the division, many of us die-hard Mets fans were riding a roller coaster of emotions, from denial, hope, frustration and anger to full-blown rage.  We spent hours speculating about, arguing about, reading about, listening to rants on sports radio about, blogging about (1) Should Willie have rested Jose Reyes?  Was he just tired?  Was this an attitude problem coming from his being benched in Houston?  (2)  Is Willie truly not concerned?  If so, why the **** not?!  Shouldn’t he be throwing things and yelling at this point?  (3) The Phillies couldn’t stay this hot for long, right?  RIGHT??!!  (4) Speaking of the Phillies, if the Mets blow this, we said, it would be a collapse of historical proportions.  Not since the 1964 Phillies would a team have blown such a comfortable lead.  These and countless other topics all related to WHAT HAPPENED??!!

Not that we weren’t allowed to be heated up about the Division win that got away.  Fans like myself that invest that much time, thought, and–yes–MONEY(!) have a right to be a bit disappointed when the bottom just seems to inexplicably fall out.  And I haven’t found one fan who liked the idea of Tom Glavine being "disappointed but not devastated" and insinuating that Mets fans would do well to put the end of the season in perspective.

However, reading the above-mentioned Daily News article had a somewhat sobering effect on me when I remembered how emotional I had gotten over baseball in late September:  for all that the losses meant to us fans and to the team itself, I now realize that Pedro Feliciano had been simultaneously trying to save his team’s life and save his infant daughter’s fragile life.

It truly does put things in perspective, as I’m sure Pedro would be the first to tell anyone who would’ve asked him then or now. 

I’m so glad that Christmas time brought to him and to his family truly the very best possible gift.  I wish him the very best in the new year…no matter what the Mets do, I have a feeling it will be a terrific one for him!!  And that’s what counts!

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