For the fan in enemy territory

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Mets Fans: A Nation in Crisis...Again

The New York Mets fans are a proud people. They have to be. Their team has only won two World Series titles in 50 years and they only have one player inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. They don't have as much to hold on to as fans of other franchises. As a Mets fan I can completely understand this logic; Be proud of what you have.

They have had a long history of bad moments. A few years ago they lived the ultimate fan nightmare. Their biggest division rival played their biggest inter-league rival in the World Series. They had a tough choice to make. Support the Phillies? Support the Yankees? Don't watch TV at all for the next three weeks? These fans are acquainted with grief.

They have spent the past several seasons watching both of those teams dominate while they, themselves, have slipped and stumbled into less than mediocrity on the back of a blind-leading-the-blind financial scenario off the field and multiple late season collapses on the field. This would be enough to send any fan on a one-way ticket to the local loony bin, but as they say in the late night infomercials "wait, that's not all!"

The vast majority of these same Mets fans are also New York Jets fans. That means they have sat through all of the aforementioned pain and suffering, yet, have to endure the division rival New England Patriots having success over the past several years. On top of all that, their hated cross-town rival New York Giants have become the toast of the town this season despite the Jets making back to back AFC Championship game appearances.

These fans have fallen victim to the New York/Boston rivalry for years as Mets fans, only seeing the the upside of it in 1986. As Jets fans, they endure even more hardship in this feud as their two most heated rivals meet in the Super Bowl for the second time in four years next week. They had to face this nightmare four years ago when the New York Giants faced the, then, undefeated New England Patriots. That was as bad, if not worse, than the Yankees vs Phillies fiasco.

If the Pats had won, they would have been the only team to win 19 games in a season and be the first undefeated team since the Miami Dolphins in 1972. On the other side, if the Giants halt that feat, they would be able to have bragging rights as the ones that stopped the "greatest team ever" from having their coronation on a world-wide stage. Just like the World Series, either way it was a lose-lose situation.

For Jets fans, one could argue that they had the best case scenario of that dreadful situation. The Giants won that Super Bowl. Now, the monster rears its ugly head once more and the Mets Nation has a decision to make yet again. Support the Giants again? Support the Pats? Don't watch TV for another three weeks until pitchers and catchers report? This all sounds like an impossible list of choices to narrow down.

The answer is not easy. It depends on where you live, I suppose. As a Mets fan, I would never tell someone who to cheer for but as a Giants fan, I sure would like the support of my fellow NY brethren. As someone that lives and writes from the perspective of a South Jersey resident and being in the heart of Philadelphia country, I can tell you the Eagles fans are sparing no expense to go out of their way in booing the Giants next week.

That may be different in other places, though. Still, tough decisions for fans is not isolated to the Queens faithful. Someone in California reading this may be a Giants fan in San Francisco 49ers country with their fans still complaining about why they are not in the big game and cheering for the Pats as a form of revenge.  

Someone in the Midwest may be surrounded by Colts fans lamenting their lost season due to the injury of their franchise QB Peyton Manning. Now they are stuck deciding between Peyton's brother Eli and his Giants or a Pats team that has stood in their way several times over the past few years.

What does this have to do with the Mets? It has to do with family. We're all New Yorkers. When one member of the family does well, the rest of the family needs to be supportive. Maybe not happy, but supportive. As Michael Corleone said to Fredo in the Godfather, "you're my brother and I love you, but never choose sides against the family".

My perception, as someone outside of the city limits, is that we must stick together through thick and thin. As a fan of NY teams, I should not differentiate between logos and names if they all have "New York" on their jersey.

As a Mets fan, in that light, I was happy for the Yankees when they defeated the the Phillies. As a Giants fan I was equally as happy for the success the Jets had experienced. I was ecstatic, of course,  for the Giants when they defeated the Pats a few years ago.

The point to all of this is we must be united under a bigger picture. If we're New York fans, we have to be fans of New York, not just particular sections of that city. Otherwise we will always be a fan nation in peril. Why is it acceptable that if the Yankees win, Mets nation will be in pain? Or if the Jets win, the Giants nation will suffer? Now is a perfect opportunity for unity and solidarity. If not now, when?