BY CHAUNCE HAYDEN
Which is worse: growing accustomed to perennial suckitude, or being shown a taste of the promised land only to have it abruptly ripped away time and time again?
While my young friend Phil Boozeman has made the argument that the Kansas City Royals, with their multiple consecutive losing seasons and general irrelevance, have made their fans suffer through the most brutal of times,
I’d counter that it’s the Mets, who have (occasionally) fielded good teams over the years, even great ones, whose fans have had it the worst. Not only have we been forced to suffer through terrible losing seasons and general irrelevance for years on end, but we’ve also experienced unbearable pain and heartbreak, national headline-grabbing
financial fiascos (and ensuing criminal investigations), and completely in- ept owners. And Bobby Bonilla’s
Let’s start with the losing… and there has been LOTS of losing. The Mets haven’t won a championship
since 1986, a year after the Royals’ prior crown. Sure, they reached the post-season in 1988, 1999, 2000 and
2006, but not without some HORRIBLE seasons in between, like the sad-sack Mets of the early and mid ’90s
(embodied by Anthony Young’s 27-game winless streak), and all those empty seats at newly constructed
Citi Field for years on end until the near past.
And all of those post-season eliminations came in the most heart-wrenching form possible. Like the Braves’ ’99 win in six games, before which Robin Ventura’s infamous “grand slam single” seemed to point to destiny. Or losing to the fucking Yankees, of all teams, in 2000. Or the Cardinals snatching victory from the jaws of defeat with Adam Wainwright’s famous “knee-buckling curve” after what has since come to be known simply as “the catch” (video below), another feat that seemed to call destiny’s name at the time. I was at Shea that night and we KNEW the Mets were going to win after Endy made that catch, there was no doubt. Mets fans still haven’t forgiven Carlos Beltran for not swinging. To the point, the theme of being a Mets fan seems to be feeling destined to have it all, but always being forced to play second fiddle in the most humiliating way possible. Way worse than just being used to sucking all the time, like the Royals.
Further, to be a Mets fan is to be a monkey in a fucking circus, being hopelessly led around the ring with the promise
of a big, fat banana that never seems to materialize. To wit: 1) Mets’ owner Fred Wilpon’s involvement with Bernie Madoff, losing tens of millions of dollars and sinking the team to mediocrity for half a decade, 2) Big contract busts like Mo Vaughn, Jason Bay, Kazuo Matsui, Vince Coleman and the aforementioned Bonilla, who the Mets will literally be paying until 2035. 3) Mike Francesa, 4) The media in general, a spectacle that makes Barnum & Bailey look like a poodle show in comparison, and 5) John Rocker. Just to name a few.
And then there’s the Yankees. The Yankees and their stupid faces, and their dumb, name-less Jerseys
(the audacity!), big, soulless, overpriced stadium and eternally insufferable fans. The late ’90s and early ’00s
were some particularly difficult times, not just because the Yankees were so good but because the Mets also
had some good teams during that era (and some bad ones) but always had to settle. And settling means never hearing the end of it from your cousin/ friend/relative who’s of the insufferable Yankee fan variety; whatever,
he’s probably from Long Island or New Jersey anyway, so the joke’s on him. Plus the Yankees haven’t been
very good the past few years, which has been nice! Annual YED (Yankee Elimination Day) is always a holiday worth celebrating.
Also: Shea Stadium, aka the toilet bowl of all baseball stadiums. Yeah, it was OUR toilet, but it was still a toilet,
and the hot dogs tasted like it too. Good riddance.
So yeah, being a Mets fan is fucking tough. But hey, at leastwe have Mr. and Mrs. Met, baseball’s best mascots, to keep us company and sling oversized t-shirts we’ll never wear into the crowd during both good times and bad.