Matthew Cerrone, Lead Writer
It’s weird, but, despite their respective records, I often feel like Mets fans are actually happier being Mets fans than Yankees fans are being Yankees fans. Of course, there isn’t a Mets fan I know who wouldn’t take losing in the NCLS over finishing in fourth place, 14 games under .500 and miles from October. The thing is, Yankees fans will boast about their expectations and lofty goals and tell me failure (like the Mets, for instance) is not an option in the Bronx, which is evident by these ridiculous newspaper headlines. And so, because they’ve set such unrealistic and narrow goals for their team, which they talk about incessantly, it’s like they’ve made the experience of being a Yankees fan one dimensional. They’ve boxed themselves in so far in to a corner, which is only about winning and nothing else, that they look more foolish and seem to feel worse about losing in the ALCS than the Mets do finishing fourth.
According to their standards, 11 of their last 12 seasons have been utter failures, which is only one better than the Mets. It’s all relative, of course, but that’s the point. In their world, the opportunities to enjoy themselves during a six month season seem to only occur within a few days during late October, which has only happened once in 12 years… Basically, because of their ‘goals,’ just one of their last 4,000 days have been fun… and that must really suck.
Look, don’t get me wrong, I hope to again celebrate a Mets championship with my friends one day. But, I also know we’re capable of simply celebrating “baseball,” from a no hitter to a 20th win to just a nice day away from the office in April. I don’t know, maybe they’re right, maybe I’m just so used to losing I’ve tricked myself in to enjoying other aspects of the game. But, I don’t think that’s it, because when the season is over it’s not obsessing over one win that I miss. Instead, while the standings quickly leave my mind, I continue to miss the routine of the season; I miss the community of Mets fans I’ve come to know (online and offline); I miss the news cycle and the debate; and I miss the actual game – not the last out, but the proceeding 26 and all the strategy, second-guessing and ups and downs that come with them.
I mean, still, my favorite season as a fan is 1999, a year the Mets finished second and lost to the Braves in the NLCS. I loved that year, the dramatic games, the trips back and forth to Shea with my friend Johnny, the swings between hopelessness and over confidence, and nearly getting ejected from a game for yelling at John Rocker in the bullpen. Sure, that last loss still stings, but the 172 games before that trump it all, especially the Grand Slam Single, which is still the best game I’ve even been to. I don’t think a Yankees fan would make such a statement about a season that didn’t end with a ring. Worse, even if they felt that way, they’ve put themselves in a position to be unable to admit it. That’s a crappy way to experience baseball. I actually feel bad for them… kind of.