[EDIT] I've realized that this is sort of a rambling rant, so to clarify what the hell the title means:
I love the Mets through bad times and good. Usually if they're going through bad times I just find it all the more endearing. But the past few seasons prior to this year were just too disheartening for me to watch a lot of the games and follow the season closely– I thought my team had given up on itself, or at least lost its way. Who knows how right I was about that, if it all? It's just how I felt.
The point is, for me, they're getting back to being the AMAZIN's. I'm seeing more of a spark ; a light at the end of the tunnel... and I have found myself simply obsessed with this year's team, and excited about the future of the club. For this I thank Sandy, Terry, and, yes, Omar... [/EDIT]
To be a Mets fan is to embrace the pain of the human experience.
I have been a Mets fan for as long as I can remember (mom was from Queens), but to be perfectly honest I haven't been paying all that much attention to them since the 2006 NLCS. (Can you blame me? An agonizing loss–albeit slightly tempered, for me, by my longstanding fondness for the Cardinals, who did manage to bring glory to the NL by winning a World Series I couldn't bring myself to watch; the Mets would've taken it too). After the air came rushing out of that balloon faster than Armando Benitez blowing a save in September, the team seemed lost, and in recent seasons this was not the Mets I thought I knew.
I don't mind watching a team lose. But I did not see any passion for the game on that bench whenever I did decide to tune in. At least earlier sucky Mets seasons I had experienced were fun to watch because there was spirit! Ya had to believe– even the suckage was at least entertaining suckage. When Jeromy Burnitz sucked, he had the decency to go all out and suck magnificently, and hit like .111 to keep things interesting and the snark flowing from the announcers' booth. When Mo Vaughn sucked, at least he was a spectacle to behold. But now, after '06 the suck was just a pervasive negativity. It was truly depressing, and even when things looked like they were going well I couldn't get my heart into it, and looking back on those seasons, I'm thankful that I didn't let myself get emotionally invested.
But this season, everything has changed. I can't miss a game. I find myself listening to sports radio all the time. And even though going by the numbers they are having a mediocre run of it that barely achieves "relevancy", I am more optimistic about the Metropolitans than I have been since that soul-crushing 2006 post-season .
The key to all of this is probably evident in the name I've chosen: Terry Freaking Collins, a MOTY shoe-in if those darn Pirates hadn't chosen this season to suddenly be good. Terry and to a lesser extent Sandy have impressed me from Day One. His style almost reminds me of Bobby V, only better, more mature and with a seemingly fierce cunning for the ins and outs of the game. He also forces the team to fight hard for 27 outs and never give up. He has convinced our AAA kids that they have the ability to take over for our inevitably-disabled stars, and the other pleasant shock that's keeping me interested is that they actually DO have the ability! Apparently Omar wasn't a complete fool and our farm system doesn't suck. . . so why was that the popular opinion among the fanbase, not that long ago?
Even if this season nosedives horribly, I will be sticking with the 2011 squad to the bitter end, just to see how they take it. That's how different things feel right now. It's exciting.
In 2004, when I was thirteen, my English teacher assigned us four essays to try our hand at: descriptive, expository, something else, and persuasive. I decided to write a persuasive essay about why you should choose to root for the Mets over the Yankees. Reading this now, the logic I used to make the argument was shoddy, bordering on insane. And my claim that baseball isn't even about winning is debatable to say the least. But I stand by this essay. Really, if you're a good, loving person, being a Mets fan is better for you than being a Yankee fan. It's just that simple. And I believe it more than ever in two-thousand-eleven.
Here is the essay. I'm pretty sure I got an "A".
English 1 Honors
6 January 2004
I was in Florida for a few weeks in the summer a couple years ago when the Mets lost eight games in a row. Of course, none of the local channels showed their games unless they were playing the Marlins (which they weren’t) or they landed on ESPN’s bizarre baseball game rotation (which didn’t happen). So I was in the dark about my team for a while; all I could do was check the scores in the paper the day after the fact. Every day my embarrassed wince grew a little more painful upon seeing the losses pile up. That year the Mets were bad, and the Yankees were good, just like the year before it and the year after and probably this year and, for that matter, every other year in the teams’ histories except for a few freak seasons here and there. Yet, I remain a Mets fan, and I think most people who are moderate baseball fans should realize that they are more fun to root for than the Yankees are.
Yes, it sounds crazy. I just said it myself; the Mets are pretty bad. Understand that it’s okay that they don’t win all the time. I don’t think baseball is about winning. If your team wins consistently, it’s boring, and so are you. Baseball is an inherently dull sport. It involves a lot of waiting for a man to hit a small object with a stick and then run around in circles. If this alone spells excitement, seek help. What the game needs is an interesting team to spice it up. The fact that the Mets are horrible makes them much more interesting than the Yankees. Why would anyone watch the Bronx Bombers all the time? You know they’re just going to win. They have a lot of money, and they use it wisely. Now, the Mets, on the other hand, have a lot of money, but also, seemingly, the Hand of Midas. And I don’t mean that in a positive sense, I mean it in the sense that Midas was cursed. With few exceptions, their newly acquired players fail to meet expectations, or they completely lose their old abilities. So, why would anyone be a Mets fan? Met fans can handle the ridicule and torment for that one rare gem of a game when everything goes perfectly. Every time the Mets win a game in a slow season it feels like they have just won the World Series. Mets fans are excited when their team wins! Yankee fans just nod after nine good innings. They saw it coming. The only series that seems like the World Series for them is, well, the World Series. Fans can either be blandly, continuously content with the monotonous wins of the Yankees, or they can be occasionally elated with the Mets. With baseball, patience is a virtue.
The Mets are also better because their games are more than just a sporting event. The Mets are funny. Met games may not be the father of reality television, but I like to think that they’re at least a second uncle. Some games seem like a soap opera, with the commentators’ very witty banter about the Mets, the away team, the fans, and often totally unrelated subjects like politics and pop culture. Even the team’s name is funny. Who came up with that? Their mascot is enjoyably goofy (Mr. Met, a man with a giant baseball for a head) and their song is catchy ("Meet the Mets, meet the Mets, step right up and greet the Mets…"). Met games can seem more like "The Muppet Show" or an off-Broadway play than a baseball game if you’re in the right mood, regardless of whether the team actually wins or not. The same is hardly true with the Yankees.
I’m not saying everyone should be a Mets fan. People who don’t actually watch baseball frequently and just want a good team to support would do well to choose the Yankees. Plopping one of those arrogant logos on one’s attire is easy to defend ("Hey, the Yankees are good! I have books full of statistics to support this!") and helps the "fans" fit in with the millions of drones just like them. And for sports nuts who take baseball really seriously, the Mets are not a good team to support. They can cause severe emotional and psychological pain for the unwary. But a lot of people are definitely suited for a life of cheering on the Mets. These people are just moderate fans, who certainly don’t care if they miss some or most of the games. They are prepared to deal with a few put-downs. They consider themselves pretty smart, and they like to laugh. They can name the major players on their team, but they couldn’t name you more than a few of the team’s former managers. If this describes you, buy a Mets hat and take the subway to Shea Stadium as soon as the season starts. It’ll be good for you.
My mother was a Mets fan, so she really got me into it, but I like to think I’m a fan by choice. After all, most of my best friends are Yankee fans, but they’ve never been able to convince me to go over to the dark side. It’s not about their record. It’s because being a Mets fan is so rewarding and amusing. They’re the perfect team for the kind of folks I just described. Unfortunately, a lot of them don’t realize that, and so aren’t getting nearly as much out of baseball as they could. It’s time to realize the truth. The Mets are more fun than the Yankees.
( This is my first post here and I have no idea if it'll be of interest to anyone, and it's probably way too long. Feel free to leave me negative comments, just try to make them helpfully negative and not just nasty. ;-) )
[EDIT 2] Well, I didn't expect to get so many interesting responses! Thank you all for your responses and welcoming me. The site lists 'similar posts' and this one by "crazyremy" caught my eye:
This is a great recent post, and I share all the sentiments expressed therein. The only interesting Yankee stories this year are about aging stars, Jeter eking out 3,000 hits while hordes of mouth-breathing fans don't realize that they're writing their captain's eulogy early as they argue with the exasperated Mike Francesa's of the world about where Jeter ranks as a shortstop historically.. And Posada's ego swelling while he dwindles as an athlete... Depressing stuff like that.
Meanwhile the Mets continue to keep things interesting on every level. I'm not sure I would have bothered to post this if that Top 10 list was on the front page when I discovered Amazin' Avenue, since it kind of says what I wanted to and better, but I'm glad I posted this. :) [ / EDIT 2]