After Lawrence Tynes converted the game-winning 31-yard field goal that sent the New York Giants to Super Bowl XLVI against the New England Patriots, a small subsection of Metsopotamia presumably breathed a sigh of relief. I say that as a Big Blue Supporter whose perfectly fine with basking in the glow of postseason progress in a lesser sport while the Mets' Hot Stove season continues to prove lukewarm at best.
The Giants' recent success has made the last 36 hours easy for me, but the same likely can't be said for those Mets fans who find themselves grouped with Gang Green. With their big game aspirations dashed for one more season and the Mets doing little to ease that reality by going broke and being outbid in their tepid pursuit of Cody Ross, Jets fans must be miserable at the moment. No one would blame you for counting down to pitchers and catchers reporting a little louder than usual (though I'd hope the negative feelings directed at Foxborough far outweigh those directed across MetLife Stadium).
Still, it's interesting how fandom can shake out in New York. The rule of thumb is that Giants fans tend to be drawn to the Yankees while the Jets fans go to the Mets. I've never seen a study confirming it, or suspect it's as wide a gap as folks might presume. But that's the rule of thumb -- and one that can probably be blamed on Shea.
It's not so stark a division for the other New York sports teams. NHL allegiances tend to fall regionally, with the Devils currying favor in New Jersey, the Islanders for those few who are still aware of a team claiming to play NHL home games on Long Island, and the Rangers taking all the vast expanses in between. The NBA is simple -- it's the Knicks or an out of town club, since only masochists would stick with the Nets before their move to Brooklyn.
The Giants and Jets? They play in the same building and have done so since 1984, but the lines still feel drawn based on where each football team used to play their home games. The Giants called the Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium home and are older, leaving them around longer to court the heart and minds of the Bleacher Creatures. The Jets formed two years prior to the Mets, followed the Amazin's from the Polo Grounds to Shea, and followed the 1969 World Series run with an upset win in Super Bowl III. The timing matters, as does the geography.
And yet, it's the Mets/Jets fan whose miserable with his lot in life these days and can't help but blame being born into the suffering. The New York Post's Mike Vaccaro captured that essence perfectly when speaking to a Mets/Jets fan about their suffering back in 2009:
"I wish someone would have told me that about 30 years ago," Gary Kelly said with a laugh yesterday. "All I know is, when I was growing up in Kew Gardens, you were a Mets fan in the summer and a Jets fan in the fall. The rest was easy, because everyone rooted for the Knicks and the Rangers. But if a kid showed up on my block wearing a Yankees jacket or a Giants stocking cap . . . well, it was like wearing the wrong kind of gang colors."
That allegiance still sticks to this day for many, and The Times Herald-Record's Tom Broas recalled in Shea's waning days how the regional sentiment went away for some Mets/Jets fans when the latter team fled Shea in 1984:
"I have only been to one Jets game since they moved to Giants Stadium in 1984 because it doesn't have the same feeling as watching a football game at Shea Stadium, but I do plan on checking out Citi Field," Slutsky says.
I always feel pangs of remorse for those Mets fans who aren't completely along for the ride as the Giants filled in the dead spots of the Hot Stove season with their recent postseason run. I haven't had to feel that way with the Rangers since 1994 (and still contend it wouldn't feel as weird), while it's never come up with the Knicks. But as I watched the Giants celebrate on Sunday, I knew I was glad I wasn't a Jets fan. That would've been too much for my heart to handle.
Then again, I absolutely know that I'm in no position to complain.
Perhaps that guilty conscience comes from the wait I've had for the Mets to come around. It was great when the Rangers won in 1994. Fantastic when the Giants won in 1991 and four years ago. Unbelievable when Syracuse won the NCAA men's basketball national championship while I was a senior in 2003. But none of them are the Mets. None of them are the one sports team that keeps my entire sporting calendar on its axis. The Giants, Rangers, even the Red Bulls... all distractions while waiting for the Mets to get it together again.
Still, I have to ask -- Where do your rooting interests lie when your interest in the Mets has laid down for a long winter's rest?