Today marks the 8,000th game in Mets history.8,000 games of heartbreak, triumph, hope, despair, of the Polo Grounds, Shea Stadium, and Citi Field.8,000 games of watching Ed Kranepool debut as a teenager in 1962, then watching him retire in 1979.8,000 games of the lovable losers, the Miracle Mets of 1969, the Miracle II in 1973, the Midnight Massacre of 1977, the Magic Mets of 1980, the rise of Mookie, Wally, and Gardy.  The early roots of Joe Torre's managerial career.  The chanting of "Goodbye, Torre" in 1981.The draft of Strawberry.  The draft of Beane, who followed the beanstalk to Moneyball.  The trade for Foster, the $2 million dollar man.  The return of Kingman.  The return of Seaver.  The entrance of Hernandez, who was greeted by Seaver and Kingman with a "Welcome to the Stems."The emergence of Darryl, the hope for the near future.  The debut of the Doctor after only 269 and 2/3 innings of minor league ball - that's all he needed.Watching the standings for the first time in..EVER...in 1984, while watching Doc strikeout 276.Watching the Vader vs. Skywalker duel between the Mets and the Cardinals in 1985.  Watching them come up short with 98 wins in an era where everyone and their mascot didn't make the playoffs.Watching them reach, at last, the gold ring in 1986, thanks in part to new acquisitions like Tim Teufel and Rick Aguilera, and in part to departed players like Calvin Schiraldi.  Watching Bill Buckner break the hearts of Bostonians, while Mookie Wilson solidified his place in Mets lore.The superior team of 1988 lost to destiny's team from Los Angeles.  In that year, Mike Scoscia was better than Dwight Gooden for one at bat.The sell off of the early nineties, the free-agent revelations of Al Harazin, and the disappointments of Bonilla, Coleman, and, to a lesser extent, Murray.The rise and immediate decline of Generation K - but wasn't it nice to see Jason Isringhausen last long enough to teach Bobby Parnell a curve ball in 2011?Bobby V., John Olerud, Lance Johnson, Edgardo Alfonzo, and the star of "Men in Black," Bernard Gilkey.The man who could thrill us with his glove, but not his porcelain bat, Rey Ordonez.Clemens, Piazza, and the brawl that never was.  A championship lost to the Bronx.The ill-advised spending spree on washed-up players in 2002.9/11 and countless acts of good deeds stemming from Shea Stadium, culminating with the home run that united us all.The team that almost had it all on the 20th anniversary of the 1986 World Series.  Reyes, Wright, Lo Duca, Delgado, and Carlos Beltran, whose 41 homers are overshadowed by the nasty Wainwright curve he took for a strike.Phillips, Minaya, and now Alderson, trying to pick up the pieces of a Wilpon financial folly, while still trying to draw fans to Flushing with a promising present, and a fuller future.Raise your glass of Rheingold and light up your White Owl cigar.None other than Johan Santana starts game number 8,000 in Mets history.  Who else could represent the talent, highs, lows, guts, determination, and attitude of the Mets better than he?And oh yes, still no no-hitters.  But we'll just settle for a simple thing.  Leave your guts out on the field every day for 162 games.  That's Mets baseball like it oughta be.