The regular baseball season is over…for some of us sooner than later. “Some of us”meaning us Mets fans.
It’s bad enough that our season was so dismal with only 76 wins to date, but to have to watch the New York Yankees head into the post season for the 16th time in 17 years only adds salt to the wound. I am not a big enough person to root for the “other” New York team. Nope! Not Me! I can’t do it! I tried once…it just didn’t work for me. So I remain a die-hard Mets Fan/Yankee Hater. And, no, I’m not proud.
As a lifelong Mets fan I am used to the disappointment that comes with supporting this team. I can handle it. Usually by the All-Star Break I start to prepare for the pathetic ending that awaits me. But this year I was not prepared for the question posed to me by my eight-year-old son “Mommy, why are we Mets fans? Wouldn’t it be easier to like the Yankees? They always win Mommy. Most of the kids at school are Yankees fans.Why aren’t we?”
I feared this day would come. I had been Houdini-like for years in escaping having to answer this very same question posed by my older children. But this little guy of mine was different than his siblings… more persistent, and less distractible. Here I was face-to-face with two big blue eyes staring at me for the answer. So, I did what any parent would do…I lied. “Mommy needs to go potty, sweetie.. I’ll be out in a minute.” I thought this would buy me 3 to 4 minutes, but I heard the pitter patter of little feet running towards the bathroom door. “Mommy are you done? When will you be done? Are you done now? (Pause) How about now?”
I slowly exited the safe confines of my bathroom and decided there was no more skirting the issue. I sat him down for the inevitable “talk” every Mets fan has with their children.
I began the conversation explaining that being a Mets fan builds character. I went on to add that a true Mets fan embodies specific characteristics including but not limited to, strength, devotion, optimism, passion, short term memory, thick skin, and a strong stomach. He looked confused.
I added my own nostalgic story of how I became a Mets fan, which I blamed squarely on my older brother. It’s his fault I became a fan and that I passed this trait on to my children. Apparently my brother was at impressionable ages in 1969 and 1973 when the Mets were actually very good and exciting to watch. So inevitably, and because I had no other choice, I became a die-hard Mets fan too. This answer didn’t quench my son’s appetite for more concrete reasoning.
I promised him that as the cold of winter would fade, so would his memories of the previous season. I went as far as quoting Alexander Pope. “Hope springs eternal,” I blurted out. This I told the boy was a critical lesson to learn if he were to remain a Mets fan. I was so caught up in my clever quotations and story telling that I lost sight that I was talking to an eight-year-old. “What’s eternal mean? Was Alexander a Pope? Did he play for the Mets? How many home runs did he hit?”
Plan B…To the video
Okay, so I’m failing miserably and he knows it. Kids have an innate sense of when a parent is losing ground. I was losing ground quickly. And then it hits me… TIVO… yes TIVO (in my opinion the best invention ever). I had recorded SNY’s replay of the 1986 World Series and I’d forgotten all about it. I quickly hit “MY DVR” and begin scrolling past the 3000 Harry Potter movies, 18 million Cake Boss episodes, and finally Oprah’s last show before I get to it. A sigh of relief exudes from my body…. “Whew”! I say no more, and hit the “play button”. Silence takes over and he’s as riveted as I am. His eyes grow as the replay of Game 6 vs. the Boston Red Sox gets exciting. I ask him to predict the ending. “I think they are going to lose” he says. I say nothing and he remains glued to the TV.
By the 9th inning his nails are bitten off and he’s jumping up and down. He’s screaming at Bill Buckner to boot the ball (which he actually did) and he goes nuts when the winning run scores. I don’t even have to forward to Game 7 where the Mets win and become World Champions. He gets it! He’s resigned to be a Mets fan forever and so am I. More than anything, we shared a bonding experience over a moment in sports that occurred 25 years ago.
I lay next to him as he was drifting off to sleep that same night. It was a long day. We were both exhausted. Then I heard a meek little voice “Mommy, Mikey said the Mets played the Yankees in the World Series, too. Is that true Mommy? Mommy? Mommy you sleeping? Who won Mommy? Mommy can you hear me? Did the Mets beat the Yankees?”