Like everyone else with a passion for the Mets, Howie Rose has spent the week looking back and looking forward, but mostly decompressing as he returns to the humdrum of real life after an emotional crazy-quilt of a month.
In his case that meant calling a Devils-Islanders game in Brooklyn for MSG Plus Tuesday night when he would rather have been calling Game 6 of the World Series in Kansas City for WOR radio.
“It’s a bit of an adjustment, an adjustment that I’m not certain I’m ready to make,” he said. “That’s no disrespect at all to the other side of it. It’s just human nature. You’re riding this unbelievable wave, and then it’s a regular-season Islanders game in November.”
But what a wave it was. Rose, 61, called 2015 “the greatest damn season of broadcasting I’ve ever had.” “It was great,” he said, growing increasingly emotional as he spoke about the experience while preparing for the Islanders game at Barclays Center.
“I can’t find the right words to tell you how much I loved this season, from the 11-game winning streak and even through the down periods, because even at their worst they were in close enough proximity to first place. They lost that miserable game in the rain in July and were three games out, but then Washington comes in and they swept them and they’re in a virtual tie.
“It was an honor – an honor – to do those games. I can’t look at it any other way, man. Look, you want to take exception to this, or other media people want to, fine. But people know what I’m about. Cut me open and I have a Mets logo in there. I’m just so proud to have been there for this season. I can’t say it any other way.”
Nothing illustrates how much it meant more than this: He said it surpassed the 1994 Rangers’ run to the Stanley Cup on his personal list. Yes, that includes his famous “Matteau! Matteau! Matteau!” call when those Rangers won Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final over the Devils.
“Up until now I could say on one level ’94 with the Rangers was the biggest thrill of my career,” he said. “But when those words, ‘The Mets win the pennant!’ came out of my mouth in Chicago that beat everything. That was the trump.
“You have to understand, and I know this sounds contrived or hyperbole, but you have to trust me, it’s the honest truth: I knew when I was 12 years old, maximum, at the oldest, that I wanted to broadcast for a living. And my two favorite teams growing up were the Mets and Rangers.
“Those were the two teams in my wildest, almost unimaginable dreams to work for, and somehow I was able to do that. So obviously ’94 meant a lot.
“But there was a game the Mets played in ’66 that I was at when Ron Swoboda hit a pinch-hit homer to beat the Giants in the bottom of the ninth inning and all the way home from Flushing to Bayside on the bus all I could think of was: I wonder how Lindsey [Nelson] made it sound. I wonder how Bob [Murphy] made it sound.
“I would always put myself in their shoes in the biggest situations in my mind. So when I had those words spill out of my mouth, ‘The Mets win the pennant!’ everything came rushing back. I was literally getting images of being there in ’69, and in ’86, even though I was working.
“It was the most profound, deepest level of pride, satisfaction and, frankly, sheer joy I’ve ever had in the business.”
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