It has come to my attention that some people do not understand the way sports teams work here in New York. Sports are big money here, and drama abounds almost wherever money abounds. (I’m pretty sure this can be confirmed by watching Real Housewives of… wherever.)
I’m a chick. That means, growing up I was only expected to be mildly knowledgable about sports. I generally paid attention only to my teams. Despite having read “The Blind Side”, what I actually know about football could fit on the head of a pin. (And if Michael Lewis wasn’t awesome, I wouldn’t even know that much.) Nonetheless when my teams do well, I’ll start getting into things. When I was little, I remember going through a Tigers phase as well as a Pistons phase. Both teams peaked when I was pretty young, and then were mediocre/not that great for many years. And the Lions were always terrible. So long before I became a Mets/Jets fan, I knew about pain and suffering. Luckily, we had the Red Wings, and my grandfather used to get boxed seats for free. (There was always a lot of graft in Detroit, and we were the proud recipients of said graft.)
Other than the Wings, I really didn’t watch a lot of sports until I started dating my husband. However, that was also 2000, also known as the year of the Subway Series. This was my first introduction to just how seriously people take their sports rivalries here in New York. For those not born and raised in New York, I will explain. You are born into a family, and that family already has an allegiance. If your father and his father are Mets fans, YOU are a Mets fan. If your father and his father are Jets fans, YOU are a Jets fan. You may decide to change your name. You may change your sexual orientation. You are encouraged to change your underwear, but you do not change your baseball/football affiliations. If you do, you are a turncoat, and your dead grandfather disowns you. (In my husband’s case, it would be probably be his grandmother*, but never mind that.) As Vito Corleone would say, “You don’t go against the family.”
To be clear, it is acceptable to be a Yankees fan, provided you are not a traitor and don’t act like a douchgrommet about the whole thing. Let’s face it, it’s not that hard to root for a winning team. It’s being loyal during bad times that counts, not during the endless “Honeymoon Phase” that Yankees fans seem to experience.
If you are female, there is a good deal more flexibility. You’re not really expected to care to begin with. So, you’re allowed to switch teams due to a relationship/marriage/divorce, or simply by virtue of being female. (The fact that people expect you to change your mind a lot is actually one of the nice things about being a chick. Shhh.) I think you’re also allowed to change your mind if the team colors don’t look good on you, but I’m a little bit fuzzy on this…
Anyway, when I first moved here in 2003 and started going to Mets games, they were still pretty good. Every year, they never quite reached the level of their hype, but they weren’t embarrassing. And then there was 2009. I was pregnant with my daughter that year, and my father-in-law had season tickets. Sometimes my in-laws would go, but a lot of times they would give the tickets to us. I would lug my large, clumsy (hungry) self into Queens to cheer them on, but they would lose every single game. It would always seem like they were going to win, but then bam! Right with all the bases loaded and the game tied, He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named would strike out. Anyway, thankfully, I’ve always had a weakness for junk food. Otherwise trekking it into Queens on a weeknight to watch the Mets lose to the Phillies in the eleventh inning, and waiting for trains at 1 a.m., might just sound ridiculous. Eventually, we came to our senses and realized that heavily pregnant ladies (don’t worry, I use that term quite loosely) should NOT go to baseball games. After all, I can watch the Mets
lose quite comfortably from my own home, and the line for the bathroom is a lot shorter.
So, we have been rooting for the Mets from our living room couch for the last three years. And we have recently recruited our sons. Sometimes, it’s a little bit painful for them since they have to go to school with Yankees fans, but they are learning. It’s the loyalty that counts. And someday all of their pain will be made worthwhile… or not… but at least we won’t have to shoot them for being traitors. They are supposed to go to Citifield for the first time this summer, so we shall see how that goes. I suspect they will be like me, enjoying the cured meats, but crying on the inside.
How about you? Does your sports team make you cry? Don’t worry, if you’re male, I will assume you only cry one single (and therefore manly) tear…
*Did I mention that I married into an Italian family, and that my husband’s feisty/slightly crazy Sicilian grandmother could strike fear into the heart of anyone?
- Power aside, Mets lost series to Yankees due to bullpen, or lack thereof (dynamets.mlblogs.com)