Mets fans’ heads are exploding now that the Yankees and Phillies have pounded their way into the World Series. I, however, won’t have trouble deciding who to root for:
A few weeks ago I expressed the same intention and was dubbed the anti-Christ by one charming commentor and another questioned my Met blogging legitimacy. Knowing full well I’ll be in for a similar blog-flogging with this full-fledged declaration, I nonetheless intend to make my case.
First, even though it galls me no end, I feel I need to establish my Met fan bonafides.
I have been a Mets season ticket holder since 1984. I have not missed an opening day in that time. I keep score at every game I attend. My keychain pendant is a souvenir 1986 World Series medallion given fans Opening Day 1987. The side of my refrigerator is covered with magnetic Mets schedules, much to my wife’s chagrin. I have every Mets yearbook sinceâ€¦well, every yearbook, and every media guide since 1988. I have a Mets seat pillow (really, a pillow, not one of those flimsy foam cushions), a dozen or so fitted Mets caps (including one with the Chinese character for “Mets”), souvenir cups from nearly every season and a can of Mets grapefruit soda from Japan. I have ticket stubs from every playoff game the Mets have played in the last 25 years save two (don’t ask), and playoff tickets bought for playoff games never played (e.g. 1987). I also bought my Loge reserved seats from Shea.
I will match my Mets fandomness with anyone decrying my rooting for the Yankees.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to the heart of the matter.
I am not just rooting for the Yankees this year. I root for them whenever they are not playing the Mets. I was even a season ticket holder at Yankee Stadium in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but had to give them up â€“ I couldn’t afford seats at both Shea and Yankee Stadium. Obviously I chose the Mets.
How can I root for both the Mets and Yankees?
Let me answer a question with a question for all you Yankee haters.
Why is it necessary to HATE the Yankees in order to root for the Mets? To me, this is like hating apple pie to justify liking cherry pie â€“ and I’m presented with that choice far more frequently than the half dozen times I root for the Mets over the Yankees. I don’t have to hate red in order to like blue, I don’t have to hate John Wayne westerns in order to like Clint Eastwood westerns, I don’t have to hate Windows to like Mac, I don’t to hate anything in order to like something else.
Here are some of the reasons I hear on why people hate the Yankees:
1. The Yankees buy championships. Yes, the Yankees are a rich organization. But the Mets’ payroll has been second only to the Yankees the last few years. Where did that spending get us? The Yankees have not won a World Series since 2000, so where did all that spending get them? No, you cannot win simply by buying talent. It helps, but you need more than money to be a winner. And it’s hard to yell they buy championships when the Mets spend nearly as much â€“ just not as well.
But that’s besides the point. The core of the current Yankee dynasty is Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera, all home grown players, all there since 1996. The Mets don’t have a single player on its roster from its last NL pennant winner just nine years ago.
2. Yankee fans are arrogant/cocky. It’s called swagger. You remember swagger, Met fans, don’t you? The 1986 Mets? Hell, I was obnoxious that year. Fans of winning New York teams get to be obnoxious. It’s damned annoying when it’s not the team you’re rooting for, but all New York sports fans suffer from it and Yankee fans just seem to have a corner on it since they win more often. I can’t blame them, though. Shoe on the other foot, I’d be cocky, too.
3. The Yankees win too often. I also hear this from people rooting against Tiger Woods. This just baffles me. Since when is consistant high-level success something to root against? Accomplishment and winning at the highest level are reasons to admire, not hate. And using this logic, you’d hate the Mets if they won too often? Me, I’d risk it.
4. George Steinbrenner. I’m sorry, what position does he play? Oh, right, he doesn’t. Steinbrenner may be many things, but he wants to win and has done everything he can â€“ good and bad â€“ to make that happen. As a Met fan I find it hard not to want to the same attitude from the Wilpons.
So, to get back to the original question: Why do I root for the Yankees?
I am a baseball fan. The Yankees are baseball’s foremost, most storied and most winning franchise. The Yankees are baseball’s ambassador to the world. Everywhere I’ve traveled around the world I’ve seen kids wearing Yankee hats. American is synonymous with Yankee. A baseball fan who hates the Yankees is like a film buff hating Alfred Hitchcock, a literature fan hating Shakespeare, a nature lover hating the Grand Canyon.
Most of all, I’m a proud New Yorker, proud of my city and proud of its rich baseball heritage. My city has two baseball teams. I see no reason why I should not exult in the achievements of both since their objectives conflict only six days a year. That leaves me free to root for both the other 359.
The Yankees are inexorably entwined with being a baseball fan and a New Yorker. How one can claim to be a baseball fan and a New Yorker and at least have some grudging respect for what the Yankees mean to the sport and to this city.
Here’s what really baffles me: how a real baseball fan can also be a football fan. But perhaps that’s best left to either George Carlin or another post.