I was in on the ground floor on this website. In a former incarnation, I used to be called Peteyfan45. ( a lesson in not basing a username on your favorite player.) In ancient times on this website, when you put the mouse on a username, it would show a number, and mine was pretty low. So what, you ask? Follow along, I'm going somewhere with this.
I became a Mets fan in 86, at age 6, when my favorite player was Tim Teufel, from my hometown, who went to St. Mary's with my mom and dad's sisters, and shook his butt every time he stepped up to the plate (hilarious to 7 year olds.)
I was old enough to be crushed when they lost in 88, and it took me 11 years to forgive Orel Hershiser. I remember going to St. Mary's to meet Teufel, Gary Carter, David Cone and Mookie Wilson, who were signing autographs in the gym, and years later when I worked at a summer camp that was held there I had that picture in my head every time I walked into that room.
Teufel's career ended, Mookie and Keith, Carter, Doc and the Straw all moved on, the team fell off, and I grew up. In middle school I was more into playing bass than baseball, and in high school I cared more about bong hits than hits on the baseball diamond.
But I never went away completely, and then in 96 the other team in town won the Series, and I started to notice guys who'd been with me in 86 suddenly coming out for the other team. It wasn't for me, but I could see where they were coming from - after all, they had Doc and Coney and Darryl. Little did I know what was in store for the next 15 years...
The Mets got good again just in time, as baseball was coming back. In the era of McGwire and Sosa they added some star power of their own, and with Bobby V at the helm (another local product) they were a real team again. I spent a lot of time at Shea those summers, and I have a lot of great memories:
jumping down to the orange seats to see Kenny Rogers close out the Astros in 99, getting stuck in traffic and showing up at the stadium after Orel already gave up 5 runs in the 1st in a must-win against the braves, (was that the day Chipper told us to get our Yankees gear?,) watching the first innings of a double header against the Cards on TV and hopping in the car to go catch the end of game 1 and 2 (and giving my buddy hell for cheering McGwire,) Edgardo hitting a homer to help clinch the playoffs in 2000, and so on and so on.
My story is not remarkable, and I thank anyone who has stuck with it so far. Most of you probably could say something similar. The point is, I'm not someone who just showed up. For 28 years I've been watching this team, and although I cherish all my memories, in the end it's a long and tragic story of futility and heartbreak.
And for all of my adult life, since I was 17, the other team in town has enjoyed unprecedented success. The only time my team was any good, they won 4 of 5 titles. Even though they finally lost in an historic collapse to the hated Red Sox in '04, I couldn't take much joy in it. The Mets had been mired in the Art Howe years and were still working on a turnaround (still waiting...) They got Pedro, they got Beltran, they had Reyes and Wright, but still no rings, and then no playoffs, and then losing, and more losing, and Madoff, and now they're a punchline. (again)
But the worst moment, the most insufferable part of the whole history, was what happened in 2000. I had to sit there and watch as that other team, one whose name I don't even care to write, beat my team on our field, and celebrated the World Series at Shea, evidently with thousands of their fans in our seats. And it all started with a home run.
And now the guy who hit that home run is retiring, years after all the Mets heroes of those days. And all of baseball will bend the knee and kiss the rings, and celebrate his Hall of Fame career.
So now after all the crap I've had to deal with from this team, especially in the last 5 years, I have to consider the prospect of watching them throw a party for the other team's guy, send him off with a nice set of golf clubs, thanks so much for beating us in the World Series on our field, and making us look so swell all these years?
Well for me that's the last straw. I'm used to this ownership being out of touch with the temperature of the fanbase, but this would be more than I can suffer. I know he's the ballplayer's ballplayer, and plays the game the right way, and any fan would want him on their team, and in no way is he a phony, overrated jerk whose two signature plays wouldn't stand in this era of replay, but I don't care about that. He's another team's player. He's THE other team's player, the one guy on the one team that my team should never celebrate. And if (when) that happens, I'm done with these current owners.
I realize I may be overreacting. None of the people I've asked seem to be as outraged as I am at the idea. And it hasn't even happened yet. But I can see it coming, and I just hope that I'm wrong. The team will always be in my heart, but this one misstep would be the last straw for me.