Why this Yankee fan is rooting for the Mets
One of my earliest memories is one where I’m watching a Yankees game with my mother. She watched a lot of baseball and I used to love to just sit next to her while she watched. She always had a pen and paper and wrote down the lineup and made little notes next to each player’s name as the game went on. I became a Yankee fan because of her, despite my father’s boisterous cheering on of the Mets. I didn’t understand rivalries when I was young, I don’t even know if there was a great rivalry between the Mets and Yankees and their fans back in the 60s, but I do know my parents never, ever agreed on baseball.
I think I gravitated to the Yankees over the Mets because of my mother and grandfather’s history with the team; the way they talked about their team made them seem like royalty. The Mets, born the same year as me, had little history behind them. They were the new kid on the block and certainly not the stuff of legends like the Yankees.
So we became a house divided. My middle sister went the way of my father and chose the Mets. My youngest sister wisely followed in my footsteps and became a Yankee fan. Baseball season was always fun, the way gently sparring with your family can be. The older we got, the more biting the commentary between us became, verbal punches being thrown where we once just made a few disparaging jokes toward each other. But it was all in fun, right?
I grew to hate the Mets. Maybe it was my father’s fault. Maybe his hurled insults and bitterness served to put a huge, baseball shaped wedge between us during the spring and summer months. Maybe he drove me to Mets hatred. But it was the Mets themselves during the 1986 season that really drove home my intense hatred toward that team and its fans. There was certainly a rivalry then and it played out every night at the dinner table. My father was fond of telling me I was out of the will for being a Yankee fan. My middle sister would laugh, knowing that she would always be my father’s favorite because she wore the blue and orange. When the Mets won the World Series, my father was relentless. I took to avoiding him for most of November. He’s a terrible sports fan. I attribute that to him having the poor fortune of rooting for the Mets and Jets, but that’s really no excuse.
The baseball rivalry between my parents was pretty intense at times. When the teams faced each other in the World Series in 2000, my father used some duct tape and ingenuity to divide the roof of the house in half; one side had a Yankees logo that said “hers” and the other side had a Mets logo that said “his.” And never the twain shall meet, as it were. Then there was the year he put this in the front yard.
I took that rivalry to heart for a long time. It was an inherent part of sports for me. Hating the Mets and Met fans was as natural to me as loving the Yankees. And that was all fun while it lasted. Rooting against teams can sometimes be as fulfilling as rooting for teams. Basking in the loss of a team you hate can be as satisfying as basking in your own team’s win. But there came a time — very recently — when I felt my hatred of the Mets waning. Maybe I was getting soft with age, I don’t know. But I just couldn’t work up that intensity anymore. I’d watch a Mets game with my father and found myself rooting for them on occassion. I know, it surprised me, too. But I’ve adopted a “can’t we all just get along” attitude toward life that has transcended life in general and worked its way into my sports fandom.
So here we are in 2015 and the Mets are vying for a spot in the World Series, after a season that saw me rooting for their lively, fun team more and more as my Yankees left me feeling uninspired and kind of let down. I’m not turning into a Mets fan by any means, but I’m rooting for them to win this thing.
This has nothing to do with the Mets being winners as it does with my father. Despite his being a sore loser and a bad winner, despite his insults and bad sports jokes and house-dividing, I want them to win it for him. I want my dad to feel that joy one feels when their beloved sports team wins a championship. I want him to experience something he hasn’t experienced in almost 30 years. Because even though he’s a fan of a rival team, even though he wrote me out of the will the day I declared myself a Yankees fan, I want this for him.
So I’m rooting for the Mets. Does that make me a bad Yankee fan? Perhaps. I’ll deal with that. Sometimes you just want to see other people happy, keep them from the dejection that every sports fan knows all too well. And although my dad might be a grump and say something like “we don’t need you to root for us” I will, because he’s my father and what more do we all want but to see our loved ones smile. I mean, as long as it’s not at the expense of our own team.
Let’s go Mets.