Underdogs and the Story of a Season

For some reason, I really respond to this idea of my favorite team being an underdog and having their backs against the wall. It’s what has always drawn me to being a Mets fan. It’s probably why I am a Jets fan, and why I enjoyed rooting for the Heat when they had Seikaly, Sherman, Zo and Hardaway, but why I tuned the Heat out (and the NBA as a whole) after Shaq and Wade got there. I mean, even in 1986, when the Mets dominated all summer, they still found themselves fighting for their lives at multiple points in the post season, which is what ended up being most memorable about that season for me and other fans. This is clearly why may favorite Mets teams are from 1999 and 2000.

I’ve written about this before, but I genuinely enjoy the story arc of each individual baseball season (and how that story fits in with the overall story of the franchise and specific eras). It’s the reason I follow sports. I also think this is why I can tolerate adversity, or these issues with Ownership, or monumental trades, action and inaction, because it’s all part of the story. I see myself as a spectator, as a viewer and a loyal fan of the show, watching and waiting to see how it all ends.

In either case, for me, the story of a season is always more fun and compelling when a team comes from no place to surprise than it is when a team wins and dominates like it’s expected to. In fact, I am more likely to get wrapped up in another team’s success (like the Rays in 2008) when they come out of no place to surprise, as well. Inversely, I will never understand how some Yankees fan, who barely check in on baseball from April through August, then only watch in September and October, are happy when their team wins. To each his own I guess, and I try not to judge, but, to me, that would be like tuning in to the last five minutes of a movie and cheering when Luke takes down Vadar. At that point, I’d rather not watch at all. I mean, how can you really appreciate the accomplishment and be truly happy for the people on field if you have no real idea about what went in to getting there?

My Yankees, Phillies and football Giants friends tell me I am simply lowering my expectations and making excuses for my favorite teams. They say, if the Mets made the playoffs each of the next five years, I would quickly change my mind about being the underdog and I’d begin to see sports like they do. Maybe. Maybe not. Frankly, I’d love to have that problem and find out. For now, all I know is that I love cheering for the underdog, which is probably why I am so excited for the 2012 Mets.