“WHY DON’T YOU go Nets and complete the set? Mets, Jets, Nets…” said my Yankees girlfriend, goading me.
She was still coming to terms with the fact that I had come out of the closet as a New York Mets fan.
I had come out wearing blue and orange. I had come out with little or no aspirations in life. And I had come out claiming Jackie Robinson as one of my own.
Two summers ago, she took me to the old Yankee Stadium. The indoctrination didn’t work but publicly I veered between curiosity and aloofness before eventually feigning joy when they won the 2009 World Series.
But behind her back, I was sneaking up to Queens every time I visited New York (ostensibly to see her). Ok, I felt bad but we operated a policy of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’.
Their rugged pitcher RA Dickey could rock my world with a perfect game but after the bottom of the ninth, the joy in my heart would have to be kept right there, in my heart, locked away. For shame!
The Mets are hard to love, it’s true. They’re heartbreakers without any of the excitement that should go hand-in-hand with that.
And if there’s never a good time to finally come out and bat for New York’s other team, then this big-spending off-season is a very bad time.
The 1986 World Series-winning Mets (now they were bad) are a distant memory. Since then they’ve had to contend with an era which had seen their National League East Division mostly dominated by the Atlanta Braves and, lately, the Philadelphia Phillies.
This five-team division is cut-throat and permanently so. Such is the nature of baseball that a team could have the great fortune of a wide open division each season or be stuck in the American League East with the biggest spenders in the sport: the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.
To sum up, it has been a dog’s life for the Mets of late, they even have a new manager who hasn’t led a team in a decade or so. And all this while they can only sit on their hands and watch aghast as the Phillies add Cliff Lee to a pitching rotation that many see as the most potent of all time.
The Mets, meanwhile, must patiently wait for some heavy contracts to reach their sell-by date at the end of 2011 before they can start fresh in 2012.
But there’s hope for those teams living in the shadows and on the periphery of what is perceived to be ‘normal’ baseball society. If MLB commissioner Bud Selig gets his wish, then a new, more accepting world may be upon us.
Selig has long held the view that a second wild card should be given to each league, American and National. As it stands, each league sends its three divisional winners and its next best team (the wild card) to the play-offs. If Selig has his way, the Mets might arrive in 2012, safe in the knowledge that third place in the NL East won’t be so torturous any more.
Who knows, maybe some day Mets fans might even be allowed to marry. In the meantime, when the Nets move to the more tolerant, failure-friendly Brooklyn, I just might follow them.
You can read his previous columns for thescore here.