Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wrong Side Of Town

The problem with this World Series was that the outcome was inevitably going to piss me off. That was how I saw things going in, and that was how it turned out. My plan was to basically pretend it didn't exist. Just shut it off. Why put myself through the misery?

But it's impossible to do that. Not when you're rooting for the team from the wrong side of town, from the perspective of both of the teams present. It was easy to ignore the jeers from Philadelphia. That came from afar. The snibes that come from within eat at you more and more as the games play on. Maybe it's not something that's directed absolutely at you, but it's that sneering, snide arrogance. They thumb their noses at us, and why shouldn't they? We're a laughingstock. We can point at them all we want, but we're on the same field they are, we spend the same money they do, and we try to exploit the same business model they've perfected. But where they can throw their money at the best people imaginable, we throw our money around like we're a 20-something NYU coed walking into H&M.

The end result, of course, is the 2009 season.

Despite my best efforts to ignore it, despite every effort I put in to pretend it wasn't there, I couldn't. The newspaper covers, the radio shows all got to me. By time the series rolled around, I was sure I could avoid it. But there I was, listening on the radio. I couldn't subject myself to it on TV. No way. It's easier to follow when you don't have to actually see anything. And ESPN radio brought me a neutral broadcast from Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. But as that first game progressed, something odd happened. The Phillies were ahead, the Yankees were down. And for some reason, I really enjoyed watching the Yankees lose. So, that was how it had to be. Like most Mets fans, I'm sure. I wouldn't give the Philly fans the satisfaction of saying I was rooting for them. Oh, no. But even though I didn't want the Phillies to win, I wanted the Yankees to lose more. That was my official statement to anyone who asked.

Game 2 was ignored. Game 3, I found myself in the midst of a major Halloween party. Stuck as the head troubleshooter, several parties requested updates of the game for the attending revelers. So, fine. Out comes the BlackBerry to check in periodically. As the night continued and I allowed myself to become as intoxicated as is recommended when one is on the job, I found myself in a private area with a TV. This would be the first I would be seeing of the World Series at all. The Yankees were ahead. Jayson Werth hit a Home Run. As if on cue, I broke into a joyous "JAY-SON WERTH-LESS!" chant. This time, it was supportive. But he was still Jayson Werth-Less. Of course, the Yankees won. Of course, the Yankees ran away with the rest of the series. It seemed somewhat inevitable. Even when many Yankee fans seemed to be going through some sort of bizarre panic between the 5th and 6th games, it was still with that obnoxious "When We Win..." attitude.

Well, they won. Now we're going to have to hear about it all Winter, and probably all the way through next season, too. Should be a treat.

Say what you will about the Phillies, and say what you will about Cole Hamels, who probably ought to think twice before he goes after the Mets again, but they still managed to ride a bullpen that rivaled the 2008 Mets all the way to the World Series (see what happens when your hitters hit?!). Even though they lost and a lot of their players looked bad doing it, they're still by far and away the team to beat in the NL East. The Mets, well, the Mets should be thinking about how the hell they're going to finish higher than 4th place. The Mets certainly have the deep pockets to reinvent themselves the same way the Yankees did. Don't let anyone tell you different. But the question is, are they smart enough? Is the person making the decisions capable of making the right ones? Over the past few seasons, the answer has been a resounding "No," and that's enough to scare the bejesus out of any Mets fan. The Yankees, by winning the World Series, proved that any problem can be fixed if you throw enough money at it. I don't know if the Mets are smart enough to follow suit. Only time will tell.

I've been following this team for over 20 seasons. I was discussing this over the weekend with a fellow Mets fan. I've seen more winning seasons than losing seasons, and it's not even close. These last few years have been bad times for me as a Mets fan. There's no argument on the matter. But during those seasons, the Mets were, at worst, good enough to contend right down to the last day. It just didn't end well. But it's not as though I've suffered through the George Foster years or the Craig Swan era (a fact pointed out to me by my cousin, though the credibility is lacking since he is a Manhasset, NY native who moved to Philadelphia and is now a rabid Phillies fan). The worst I've got is the Bobby Bonilla era or the Art Howe years. Hell, I've even got some pretty sweet Postseason memories of my own. But I was 7 years old in 1986. I'm too young to remember or appreciate it. I've never truly tasted that ultimate victory. I've never really been able to capture that moment and actually be able to say, "Holy Shit, the Mets are World Series Champions!"

Maybe, someday, I will. Until then, I'm just another schmuck rooting for the other team on the Wrong Side of Town.

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