May 09, 2008

Point/Counter-Point- "Why Be A Met's Fan"

Again, with an eye towards "equal-time", Jeff Kagan, former Californian and current Floridian, takes umbrage with New Yorkers, whether current or former residents, who think that Shea Stadium and the Mets, in particular, are the center of the baseball universe. However, since this IS a METS-based blog, I offer a counterpoint to Jeff's post immediately after.

Finally, in spite of those who criticize bloggers, including XM's Charlie Steiner today (who had another expletive-laden tirade from one Buzz Bissinger on his show), some of the best musings about this game we love comes to us via onward we go!!!

Shea is NOT the Center of the Universe…

An opposing view
by Jeff Kagan

I once had the opportunity to ask two different girls out for a date. I didn’t know it at the time, but one of the girls was a “sure thing” and the other was, well as far from it as possible. To paraphrase the old knight guarding the Holy Grail in the Indiana Jones movie, I chose poorly.

I was reminded of this frustrating experience when looking at the upcoming weekend series between the Yankees and the Mets. You have two teams in your city to root for, and you Mets fans have chosen poorly. And it’s not just a couple of you, like Clippers fans in Los Angeles. There are millions of you! It’s true that misery loves company.

Let’s look at the facts:

The Mets came into existence in 1962. They have won exactly two World Series, or one every 23 years. During that time, the Yankees have won seven. The Mets have won four pennants since their inception (the other years being 1973 and 2000), while the Yanks have won eleven. ANDI won’t even mention the 2000 World Series (oops, I just did!).

You know what team has won as many championships as the Mets? The Florida Marlins! Even with them purging their payroll like they were teen models after a meal, they still put together enough talent to win the series twice within the last 12 years. And they weren’t even in existence when the Mets won their last championship!!!

As a Mets' fan, you must know what it’s like to be Tommy Aaron, Hank Aaron’s little brother. How about being second in line to the throne of England? Or even the second guy who stepped on the moon? It’s nice and all, but you don’t really matter much.

You try to fool yourself by saying that it’s not all that bad because you've still have had a pretty good team during your existence. I’ll let you live in your delusional world. It’s got to hurt being in the Yankees shadow all these years, and with the impatience of Hank Steinbrenner, looks like you'd better continue to be used to it.

But I ask you why would you choose to be Mets fans when you have the Yankees to root for? It’s like dating Jessica Alba’s little sister. Yeah, she’s probably cute and all, but you have to look across the thanksgiving table at Jessica’s face every year and wonder how the other half lives!

The Mets have won more World Series than a lot of teams have, so at least you’ve got that going for you (I'm talking to YOU, Expos' fans- oh wait- they're not around anymore, huh? Okay- Nationals fans!!!). But remember, in the past 21.25 seasons, the Mets have won as many championships as the Devil Rays, excuse me, Rays - or whatever they call themselves these days, have won... Hey, maybe your team should move to Tampa and then perhaps you Mets fans can say you chose wisely…good luck against the Yanks- you'll need it!!!!

Why I Am A Mets' Fan
By David Rubin

Very simply, Jeff, I respect your opinion...and now that your body has been buried in a garbage bag, heaved into the trunk of a wrecked car and smashed at one of the auto junkyards near Shea, let's face brass tacks- I am a Mets' fan because I was born into it, and rather than take the "cowardly way out" and root for the Yankees' simply because they have won more, I have chosen to stand by my team, in good times and (mostly) bad. Mets' fans are NOTHING if not LOYAL!!! Let's see why...

It's not just that my dad rooted for's WHY he rooted for them!! In 1958, when the Dodgers and (his beloved) Giants moved out west, to YOUR old stomping grounds (and hey- if you love Los Angeles so much, why exactly DID you move to Florida- it certainly wasn't for the weather!), my dad's heart was broken. He'd been rooting for the Giants since 1934, although he lived in Brooklyn, in Brownsville, and had given his heart and soul to that team!!! He hated the Yankees, because he lived in a National League city, Brooklyn, but his first hero was a Giant, so that's where his first loyalties went! Immigrants, which my grandfather was (both of them, actually), had come to this country seeking a better life, and baseball represented freedom to them; a kids' game which adults played and everyone could root for on an equal plane, regardless of how much time you had lived in the country, your sex, color, religion or age, and it was the biggest game there was! Into that culture, my dad was born, and his family were nothing if not loyal!!! My dad loved the Giants because his dad gave him money to attend games at the Polo Grounds, which was an adventure to get to in comparison to Ebbet's Field, a much shorter ride, and second, because the player that my dad first fell in love, as previously mentioned, was one Mel Ott, future hall-of-famer and the NL's answer to Babe Ruth at the time.

Willie Mays served in the army at the same time as my dad did, and his bond to his favorite team only grew in 1951 with the "shot heard 'round the world" and the World Championship that it opened the gate to. By 1958, as my dad had settled into a comfortable life, the Giants, both baseball and football, were a huge part of his identity, as it was for many, many children of immigrants in New York. He didn't care if either team had a bad season; well, let me rephrase that- he DID care, if yelling, screaming, and having season's tickets amounts to anything, but win or lose, he remained a loyal fan to the end. When Horace Stoneham let the Giants leave town on the heals of your beloved Dodgers, his heart was broken...

Loving the National League, my dad was ecstatic when the Mets were announced in 1961, and in the interim he had met my mom and got married, inheriting my grandfather, who lived in the Bronx but loved the Giants - yes, there's definitely a trend here...and in spite of having one of the worst teams of all time (okay, the WORST team of all-time) there was fun again in NY, as my dad had said, for rooting for the Yankees would be like, for him, rooting for IBM!

Shea Stadium and I are exactly the same age, and I'd like to think that I am going to FAR outlive my first baseball home!!! My first live game came in 1968 as a four year old who was just happy to be with his two favorite people, his father and grandfather, and they explained everything to me about the game, from how the game was played to why certain players were better than others to how going to a double-header was the BEST thing of all!!! (More hot dogs, more soda, more cracker jack, more baseball!) I received my first baseball hat, my first pin (a simple Mets' logo) and my first yearbook - and nothing would ever be the same in my life again!!! Everywhere I went, if there was ANYTHING that said "Mets" on it, I wanted it!! That's why my god-sister and god-brother lost all of their Mets' yearbooks and scorecards over the years...sorry, Reed, sorry, Lisa!!! And yes, I still have most of them!!!!

Over the years, the Mets came to represent all things to me; good, like 1973, when we got to the Series; bad, when we lost to the A's in 7 games; truly amazing, like our World Series victory in 1969; utter frustration, as in the years between 1974 and 1984; incredible joy, like the dominance and then magic that was created in 1986; disgust, as in the Al Harazin years; heartbreak, as in 2000; and finally, hope, like we have this year, and the past few years, hoping that we'll finally put a team together that will make it 3 World Series victories!!!!

Every day that I work from home, I am surrounded by memories of my team, both good and bad- and my favorite possession is a ball signed by a bunch of mid-level and lower-level players, the likes of Len Randle, Joel Youngblood, Doug Flynn, Nino Esponosa, Roy Foster, Ron Hodges, John Stearns, etc...because I got every one of those autographs myself, worked for it, and it didn't matter who signed it, it was MY ball representing MY team - and that, my friend, is something that money won't ever buy!!! Having my friend, Seth, ask me repeatedly to give him 1972 Gil Hodges' Mets baseball cards, after Gil had died, because he loved him and wanted to horde them; going to a game with my friend, Steve, once we were licensed to drive, and feeling the freedom of purchasing our own tickets, our own hot dogs, on our own; heading to the Diamond Club with the son of former Newsday columist, Steve Jacobsen, meeting every Met as they came out of the clubhouse; going to the game on my birthday, the ultimate present every year; teaching the game to my brother, as we grew up together, and watching him grow into adulthood only to see his fanaticism rival my own; meeting Jon Matlack, Jerry Koosman and Tom Seaver in Lum's Chinese Restaurant; blogging about our favorite team with Jonathan, although we are 3,000 miles away from each other; these are the things that I will have with me forever- my memories, and, in light of my dad's recent passing, those are something that I value more than anything else in my life right now!!!! So, what do the Mets' represent to me? A microcosm of everything that life is - at once good, bad, trying, satisfying, fun, tedious and everything in-between. But the other thing that the Mets represent to me is loyalty, something that means a heck of a lot, in light of the times that we live in!

Loyalty is something to be commended in this life, whether it's to a spouse, your family, your relationship with the creator or your team (and I'm NOT putting them on an equal plane, as we ALL know that your TEAM always COMES FIRST - LOL!!!). Jeff, I'm not going to abandon my team simply because there is another team in town that is constantly better, just like I wouldn't abandon my son or daughter if my neighbor's child was a better student or a nicer child. We may be called a "disposable society" but I, for one, think that there is nothing "disposable" about my team or my loyalties. I live in Los Angeles, and have for the past 15 years. It would be easy, in theory, for me to simply become a Dodgers or Angels fan, and to have given up on my beloved orange and blue; but easy is not the way that I play it, and, I bet, neither would the majority of our readers nor the majority of the real, hardcore fans of this team!!! It's ironic, Jeff, that you chose to pick on the Mets, when, yourself being a Dodgers' fan, could simply change loyalties and fall in love with the Angels- you know, the team that actually WON a World Series since I've lived out here!!!! Furthermore, since you live in Florida, you might actually be a Marlins' fan right now- and wouldn't THAT be the convenient thing to do?! So either you continue to root for a team that hasn't won a World Series since 1988 AND, although it's been in existence since before the turn of the 20th century, as the old "Trolley-Dodgers", 1883 to be exact, your beloved Dodgers have only won 6 World Series, 1 in Brooklyn in over 70 years, and 5 in Los Angeles in 50 years, and, again, none in 20 years. Should every Dodger fan become an Angels' fan because the Angels have a better team? Should all Angels' fans become Dodgers fans because the Dodgers have won more World Series over the course of their history? Should Angels fans drop their team because they've only won ONE World Series in their existence, which, by the way, came in 1962- does THAT year sound familiar???? If you are a Marlins fan, should you now change your loyalties because the Rays are a better team right now and have better long-term prospects? Perhaps you should root for the Braves, as they're not so far away from Florida, their games had long been broadcast on TBS and they were certainly better, over the long haul, then the Marlins, even though the "fish" won one more World Series than Los Bravos?

It's great that you want to put Mets' fans down because of our loyalty - so the next time a team wins the World Series, or the Super Bowl, or the Stanley Cup, or the NBA Championship, should I wonder if you will be jumping on their bandwagon, giving a hard time to the fans of the losing team? Gee, before the Spurs won their first NBA Championship in 1999, they had been around in the NBA for 23 years, and another 9 years in the ABA (as the Chaparrals and the Spurs). They've been dominant for a number of years now, and the Mets, finally, are in position to emulate them and become dominant (I hope) for many years to come, on the heals of their financial commitment, their new stadium and the core of their roster.

Finally, you never said "which" of the two girls you chose to date; I have chosen to date the one that I have to put work into, and, in the long haul, will receive much more joy from, along with the pratfalls, making that joy all the more wonderful when it happens...I am a Mets fan, our readers are Mets' fans, and we'll remain so, regardless of our record - because we will rise again, and we WILL be rewarded for our love, one that will never be "unrequited" just might be a bit slow...

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