Now that the kerfluffle over who to root for in the World Series has (hopefully) subsided and we have entered the cabin fever-inducing "who to sign/trade/trade for" hot stove kerfuffle, I've had a chance to ponder the vehemence over my and everyone else's post-season rooting interests. Forgive me as I briefly wax philosophic. My rooting rumination was reinforced re-reading a book I wrote in 1995, Bums No More! The Championship Season of the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers
, in preparation for a Kindle (and other e-book) edition (this is not a plug â€“ the book's long out of print). While researching the book, I spoke to three dozen fans who attended Dodger games during the 1955 season. Reacting to the World Series and especially the Yankees in 1955, I found it startling how opposing fans' opinions about the U.S. Steel of baseball hasn't changed in 50-plus years. Consider this opinion from a 1950's Brooklyn rooter: Yankee fans have an arrogant, pompous way about them, you know, like they're the greatest and nobody's better. They keep calling on all these statistics as if they really have some meaning. They never believed that the Yankees could ever lose.
And consider how a Dodger fan named Larry Zeiger â€“ now better known as CNN talk show host Larry King â€“ explained his love/hate relationship with their Bums, and how his optimistic pessimism parallels our own mixed emotions about the Mets: Once the Dodgers got good, I always expected them to win. We also expected to lose as well. If we were ahead by three games, we'd figure out how to lose three in a row, and if we were behind three games to nothing, there was still hope. We expected to win, we expected to lose.
Sound familiar?While re-reading these half-century old opinions, I got to thinking: What made these fans, and us, so rabid about their teams, then and now? After all, we aren't any more or less enthusiastic about the Mets as, say, Cubs fans or Red Sox fans â€“ even Yankee fans â€“ are about their teams. Why did we â€“ and you â€“ become a Met fan? Is it mere geography or heredity, or is there something more? I'm actually a Mets convert. I was a huge Sandy Koufax fan growing up, getting to see him pitch only on NBC's Saturday Game of the Week or when they played the Mets or during the 1963, 1965 and 1966 World Series. By extension, I rooted for the Rams (Roman Gabriel, Deacon Jones) and the Lakers (Jerry West and Wilt Chamberlain) as well. My Dodger dedication was constantly tested. With no Internet or ESPN, it was really hard getting late night Dodger box scores and stats in New Jersey. In 1969, I was infected by what I thought was a temporary fever for the Amazins and kept a newspaper scrapbook of the season and Series, pictured above.I continued to root for the Dodgers and all L.A. teams until one late summer afternoon in 1983. I and a companion went to a Dodger-Mets game at Shea. We sat in nosebleed seats, the back row of the upper deck, and watched Fernando Valenzuela face off against Tom Seaver (I think â€“ I can't find the program). I started out consciously rooting for the Dodgers, but after a couple of innings something strange happened. While shouting encouragement to Fernando, I felt my gut pulling for the Mets. I was startled by this betrayal by my innards. I fought it for an inning or two, but I finally succumbed. The fever I caught in 1969 lay dormant until my trip to the upper deck 14 years later. I moved into Manhattan the following year and became a Mets' season ticket holder and a devoted Mets fan.While I accept my Amazin affection, I can't for the life of me figure out why the Mets are so important to me or why I was so bothered when my Met allegiance was challenged by Yankee haters on this blog who branded me a traitor for rooting for the New York American League team during the recently concluded playoffs. Why should I â€“ and do I â€“ care about and spend so much on a bunch of game-playing, pajama-wearing multi-millionaires?So take your mind off John Lackey and Matt Holliday for a moment and share with us a reflective story about how you became a Met fan and why this team â€“ and rooting to begin with â€“ is so important to you.