With the lull on the campaign trail on all fronts (there are no primaries between now and April 24), I thought I would do another baseball interlude. I have mentioned I am a die-hard Mets fan since 1968. I saw both the 1969 and 1986 world championships, as well as their post-season years short of the getting into the World Series or winning it.
The Mets opened the season against the Braves and played a three-game series and won all three games. The Yankees opened against the Rays in Tampa and lost all three games. Granted, this is for the most part a 72 – 90 ball club in a division where 82 – 80 could very well be the cellar, and in the aftermath of the Wilpon’s faux-pas with Madolf investing and the subsequent litigation, we will probably have to wait for the team to come alive near the end of the decade and the early to mid 2020s for the next world championship—in spite of winning in court, they still have to refinance before they can do much with the team on the field. So why gloat with 158 games to play and most-likely conclude with that 72 – 90 I mentioned? Because for the time being, I don’t have to listen to the braggadocio egos of the Yankee fans who feel they have a God-given right to participate in the Fall Classic.
I went to work yesterday morning (Monday, April 9) punched-in, went to my office on the second floor, booted up my computer, got my faculties in order, and took a morning stroll downstairs to say good morning to the warehouse workers. Usually adorning the white interlocking NY on dark navy blue headwear and screaming “Go Yankees!” at the top of their lungs and reminding me the difference between Citi Field beer and Yankee Stadium beer is that the latter is still flowing in October. On this fine temperate spring morning in the Springdale section of Stamford, Connecticut, it was like walking into a church. Many of the navy blue caps turned backwards so as not to show it simultaneously with their countenances and thumbs up as I walked by knowing this was not a day to be proud of being a Yankee fan. Reality will soon rear its ugly head as the season progresses, but yesterday I epitomized Carpe Diem (Latin for cease the day).
Born into a family with a history of devotion to Dem Bums (the Brooklyn Dodgers, 1901 – 1957, prior to breaking the hearts of the Flatbush Faithful, taking Horace Greely’s advice, and taking L.A.), I could never be a Yankee fan. For the first generation of Met fans (expansion National League team in 1962), the Mets were the Dodgers’ replacement (even more so than the baseball Giants, who departed to San Francisco the same year, but the Giants were drawing very poorly at the Polo Grounds while the Brooklyn Dodgers were the only sports franchise of that period in history more affluent than the Yankees. I never understood that; after all, the Giants had Willie Mays, the greatest ball player of all time, or at least of my contemporaries). You must understand anyone can be a Yankee fan. The Yankees are the top of MLBs pyramid and you can look forward to perennial appearances in the postseason (almost). To be a Met fan, however, is not for the fainthearted. You have to expect more per capita losing seasons than winning seasons and you have to have the patience for home-grown talent through their farm system. Sure, you get Doc and Darryl (Strawberry and Gooden) every now and then, and the one hall-of-famer they nurtured, Tom “Terrific” Seaver, but you also have to sift through the John Milners, Mike Vails, Tim Learys, Walt Terrels, Bill Pulsifers; not to mention the trade disasters like Mel Rojas, Steve Henderson and Dan Norman (Seaver trade to Cincinnati June 15, 1977), and of course Jim Fregosi (the man they traded Nolan Ryan to acquire). It takes a stomach of iron and nerves of steel to be a Met fan. Yankee fans travel that secondary road that shows its age, as Jimmy Buffet sings about (The Bob Robertson Society Band), Met fans take the road less taken, paved eons ago, yet nary a pothole, bump, or crack. Fellow Met fans, you are in the elite company of Scott Schonehaus’s honor group, communicated via The 7 Train.