Mets Fans of Tomorrow
There’s an old episode of The Simpsons you may have seen where Bart and Milhouse are squaring off against each other on the diamond when Bart says, “Look at me! I’m Tomokazu Ohka of the Montreal Expos!” and Milhouse retorts with “Well, I’m Esteban Yan of The Tampa Bay Devil Rays!” It’s as funny now as it was when it first aired, given the unlikelihood of kids finding attributes worth emulating in obscure sub-superstars at the pro level. As we lurch toward another post-season we’ll have no part of, you have to wonder how we keep the children interested. Didn’t Whitney Houston tell us she believed they are our future? Sweeping a double-header from the Fish is all well and good, but if you’re staring up at a fourteen-plus game lead for the wild card heading into September you need some heroes on the team, that is, if you’re going to get anybody with 2.5 kids at home filling out the seats in the Promenade Reserved section.
With all the various setbacks this year we’ve still been lucky enough to see Reyes’ batting average stay stellar while he leads the league in triples, but do the little sluggers get as caught up in the numbers as their supposedly adult counterparts rearranging their fantasy teams? Are these individual accomplishments what young fans find particularly heroic? Maybe he’ll win the National League batting title. That would be something.
Otherwise, who else can these kids look up to? Duda? This year’s only other Met all-star plays for another team. And Wright, the other face of the franchise, leads the team in homers with eleven; that lists him as #122 in the majors in the category. That’s not enough pop to make elementary schoolers beg for a t-shirt, is it? Maybe Nick Evans can keep it going until season’s end and inspire a Little Leaguer or two. I don’t think most organized youth teams have Triple-A affiliates, though. Not yet anyway.
Granted, I don’t have kids and usually feel a whole heck of a lot better when they’re not around, so maybe I shouldn’t worry that by 2025 I’ll be part of a dwindling group of graybeards who actually care what the starting lineup is in Queens. By then, people like my fifth-grade nephew will be in their twenties; he lives in Florida and is a rabid Mets-hating Marlins fan who, considering his team affiliation of choice, may have bigger problems later in his life, too. Then again, he’ll have that fancy new stadium to sit in with all the air conditioning his nostrils can take.
But family aside, I’m concerned with Mets children. Beyond feeling pity for their weeping parents or the chance to knock a Baltimore chop on Mr. Met’s Kiddie Field, the team’s been offering them little incentive to keep them interested these days.
I suppose I managed to stay a Mets fan through a childhood punctuated with consecutive losing records and a disinterested father who regularly took us to Shea with a thousand-page hardcover spy novel from the library. At least I had Rusty Staub.
That McFadden’s Gameday Ticket Package with the unlimited hour of drinks sounds pretty good right about now. Since it’s illegal for kids to have alcohol, it won’t help them out, though. Laws. Not only that, school starts in a few days. Forget about hot classrooms and homework, they’ll have to eat lunch with Yankees, Red Sox, and maybe Phillies fans who have reasons outside of Halloween to look forward to October. I don’t envy these kids one bit.