Becoming a Yankees Fan
A few nights ago I was beside myself because the Mets had dropped two out of three to the fourth-place Marlins. After some careful self-analysis, it became clear: I’d become a Yankee fan.
Now, that doesn’t mean I’ve started rooting for the Yankees — not by a longshot. But as a result of the Mets’ running away with the NL East last year, and spending all of 2007 in first place, I’ve taken on many of the traits of a typical Yankees fan.
- I fully expect my team to pulverize second-division opponents
- I further expect my team to win every single game
- I don’t understand why my team doesn’t hit more homeruns
- I don’t know the names of most of the pitchers on other teams — nor do I care to know them
- I can’t figure out why my team picked up Luis Castillo instead of that kid second baseman in Cincinnati
- I can’t understand why the Reds wouldn’t have jumped at the chance to give us Brandon Phillips (and maybe thrown in Junior Griffey as well) in return for Steve Schmoll, Chip Ambres, and a bag of balls
- I often think my team’s manager is a do-nothing idiot who sits on his hands all game
- I find myself perturbed to see the other New York team making a valiant comeback to join the pennant race
- I’m further perturbed that the other New York team can bring up rookie after rookie, all seemingly making an impact, while my team’s farm is comparatively barren
- I’m already thinking about which big-name free-agent my team will sign in the offseason
- I listen to the Michael Kay Show, and on a few occasions, considered calling in
The above are serious symptoms, and not sure about the cure. It used to be easy to be a Mets fan. The team would be mired somewhere in the middle of the pack, offer momentary runs of excitement, but be nowhere close to matching up with the mighty Braves. The Mets were expected to lose close to half their games, and anything better was gravy. The 2000 Mets were the consummate team for Mets fans — they finished in second, had a remarkable and dramatic postseason, and wound up in the World Series with a team that had no business getting to the playoffs. It was a no-lose situation — they weren’t supposed to win, so if they didn’t, no big deal. If they did, WOW! In other words, the ultimate underdog.
Last year, even though they ran away with the division, the Mets were still the underdog — mainly because the Braves had won the 14 previous titles. And in October, when Pedro became unavailable, El Duque went down, and we had to rely on two untested young hurlers, the Mets weren’t expected to make it past the Dodgers. So while they made it to within one pitch of a World Series appearance, the Mets were still something of a surprise to make it that far.
In 2007, however, all that changed. Suddenly, the Mets were the favorites — at least, to everyone not named Jimmy Rollins. It’s a very strange position to be in for a Mets fan, a place we haven’t been since 1987. Your perspective changes completely.
So here I am, my team atop the standings since Opening Day, and I feel more frustrated and angry with their performance than I ever did before. I’m scared of teams catching up, rather than excited by gaining ground. A victory over, say, the Pirates doesn’t bring so much joy because they’re “supposed” to beat the Bucs — and beat them handily. In fact, if the Mets don’t sweep the Pirates in Pittsburgh, I’ll consider it a disappointment.
Mostly, I’m happy the Mets are in first place. Sometimes, though, I wonder if I’d be happier if they were currently in second place, and making a bid to topple the team at the top of the hill. There appears to be more enjoyable level of optimism from that vantage point.