New York Mets fans are annually filled with hope and doubt, painfully aware of the soul-crushing letdowns, but shackled to the Amazins through an unbreakable bond.
Being a New York Mets fan is an emotional roller-coaster. It’s filled with manic highs and enervating lows. It’s beautiful, terrible, exciting and ugly all at the same time. It’s where “wait ‘til next year” is a religious harmony. Where there’s a fine line between paltry and proficient. Where perpetual overshadowing created New York’s underdogs. But have we become too pessimistic?
To answer this question, we need to get back to the roots of our fandom. We need to look at the lifespan of a Mets fan. Where did we come from? What did we go through? And how did we get here?
Chances are you didn’t choose this life. Instead, it chose you. It’s hereditary. We’re born into it. I’ve accepted my deep connection with the franchise exists on a level beyond any realm of choice. I’m tethered to the blue and orange in a way that’s impermeable to any rationale of cost and benefit. Any effort at deducing why we come back year after year is fruitless. It’s a part of who we are.
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So, we hasp on to this feeling while we’re young, and it propagates over time, fueled by the boundless love a child is capable of, as we hope for the best, unbeknownst to the precariousness that awaits. The signs are there, but we ignore them and toss up the increasing trepidation as folly.
Perhaps you were lucky enough to get a taste of success in the mid-1980s, capped off by the world championship in ’86. Or maybe you often reminisce of the 2000 and 2015 NL Pennants.
So yes, we’ve experienced some success. Over their history, the Mets have managed to sandwich spurts of competence between droughts of disappointment.
Not so bad so far, right? But then we get to the epic collapses (1987-1988, 2007-2008.) The disastrous big money spending (Bay, Jason; Bonilla, Bobby.) The generations of injuries to some of the franchise’s most talented. The defamation of beloved stars. And some of the more incredulous ways to lose a baseball game. But hope is a fickle virtue, and we’re always sucked back in saying, “wait ‘til next year.” Filled with hope and doubt.
But just twice have the Mets gone to playoffs in two straight seasons. Beloved Mr. Met flipped off a fan. They batted out of order. More former Mets have thrown no-hitters than the franchise itself. Crippling back injuries stole the career away from our captain and greatest home-grown bat. Heartbreak is a numbingly comfortable reality for New York Mets fans.
Big market teams can hope eventually their money will allow them to compete consistently. Smaller markets can take comfort in their financial hamstrings. But the Mets are inaptly neither, having been conned by the biggest white-collar criminal ever.
But perhaps amid all the chaos, the unusual and the inherent pessimism, is a deep-rooted passion strangely harbored through all the futility. So, when the tide does turn, and the sun does shine in Queens, it’s fresh and exciting; it’s new and engulfing. And frankly, it’s kind of a big deal.
Casey Stengel famously said in 1962, “You look up and down the bench and you have to say to yourself, ‘Can’t anybody here play this game?” Despite the good times, Casey’s words will always live with us.
So that’s how we got here. Not the depressed pessimists some will have you believe, but the hardened and cautiously aware, unwavering fans who have experienced a bit of everything.
As long as the Mets take the field we’ll all be hoping – praying – for the best, but ultimately prepared for the worst. Our scarred past ensures that. But you’ll be hard-pressed to come across a more passionate and die-hard fan base who loves their team more than Mets fans love the New York Mets.
We may not pay to show up in the ugly times, but we’re always watching and following, even from afar. And does that secretly make us all optimists? That’s not for me to say, and you’ll probably find a split within the fanbase.
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But one thing is for certain. None of us are going anywhere.