I remember being a Mets fan since age three, which was 1973, the year they somehow went to the World Series with an 82-80 record and a lineup so meek they’d have trouble scoring runs in a Sunday softball church league.
Since then I’ve followed them loyally through thick and thin, trying to get excited about guys like Doug Flynn, Pat Zachry, and Terry Leach, and occasionally being rewarded with years such as 1985, 1986, 1999 and 2000. In the other years, I suffered the constant taunting and ridicule of Yankee fans, responding with a “wait till next year!”, knowing full well that my Mets would most likely disappoint me yet again.
Such it is to be a Mets fan. To be a Mets fan is to endure the trading away of future stars — Nolan Ryan, Amos Otis, Lenny Dykstra, Jeff Kent, Mike Scott, Carl Everett, Jason Isringhausen, to name just a few — so that they can blossom with other teams. To be a Mets fan is to hang high hopes on great stars who come in to save the franchise: Willie Mays, Carlos Baerga, Roberto Alomar, Bobby Bonilla, George Foster, Mo Vaughn, Juan Samuel — only to watch them falter miserably and be run out of New York. Perennially, the Mets’ front office is a day late and a dollar short, whether it’s refusing to pay $25M annually for A-Rod, refusing to offer Vlad Guerrero more than a one-year deal, or picking up guys like Tom Glavine and Richard Hidalgo just as their careers took a serious downturn. Perhaps as frustrating is watching stars come in with great credentials, flop, then go elsewhere and become stars again (Jeromy Burnitz, Bobby Bonilla, Pete Harnisch, Dave Kingman).
While I’m sure every team goes through the same frustrations, I find it hard to believe any team has witnessed the amount of ineptitude surrounding the Mets. Shea Stadium is something of a black hole, seemingly sucking the talent and confidence out of otherwise brilliant ballplayers. Maybe it’s a curse, or the airplanes flying over Flushing, or the water supplied at Shea, that turns great ballplayers into has-beens and chases young stars to other cities.
Yet the Flushing faithful remain loyal to their beloved Mets, because as Tug McGraw (why did we ever trade him for Del Unser and Mac Scarce?) said: “Ya Gotta Believe!”.
UPDATE: April 2007
The previous was written before the 2006 season. We had a great ride in ’06, watching one of the most enjoyable Met teams in recent memory. Still, a true Mets fan has a constant pang of pessimism. It may be summed up succinctly by a car I saw on the road recently. The back window was blacked out, with a huge NY Mets decal in the center. But what made it more obvious that the owner of the car was a diehard Mets fan was the the license plate, a New York issued vanity / personalized plate that stated “CYN1CAL”.
Here’s hoping — with guarded optimism — that the 2007 Mets can build on their ’06 success.
UPDATE: April 2008
So much for the collapse … meh … once again I’ll watch with guarded optimism.
By the way if you want to know more about me, check out this nice article on Bronx Banter.