Friday, June 26, 2009

Of Death and Mets

Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett, and Michael Jackson died this week. (As if you hadn't heard.) Those are three major icons, and I suppose I have thoughts about all three.

My strongest feelings are certainly around Michael Jackson, but the coverage has been so overwhelming, I'm not going to bother to enter the fray. But yes, I've been listening to Thriller and Off The Wall for the past couple of days.

I think I was just a year or two too young to go through a major Farrah phase. It was Farrah's replacement Cheryl Ladd that I thought was the real looker, and that they thought they could replace her with Shelley Hack... well, that's just insulting.

Ed McMahon... I mean, he's Ed McMahon. It's a little weird to me that two of the three announcers in those New York Lottery commercials are now dead. Look out Jeopardy guy, if these things do in fact happen in threes.

I was avoiding thinking about these three dead icons this morning and instead put my focus on this weekend's Subway Series. And as I put on my Mets cap, I got to thinking (again) about why I'm a Mets fan. I very much had a choice in the matter. I didn't grow up rooting for the Mets.

As I've mentioned before, I was a massive baseball fan in grade school, got distracted by girls and theater in high school, decided I was too cool for sports in college, and realized that I missed the hell out of baseball once I was an independent adult.

I was in a city with two teams. The Yankees were about to go on a run of four World Series Championships in five years. The Yanks were experiencing a renaissance. The Mets were not. Their best player was Todd Hundley, for crying out loud. It was a hard time to be a Mets fan. And the Mets broke my 1986 heart, when they unexpectedly beat my beloved Houston Astros. The cards were stacked against the Mets.

Visits to both stadiums really should've put the Yankees over the top. Yankee Stadium (the old one - haven't yet seen the new one) was a stellar place for baseball. You were close to the action; you could eat the history.

Shea was Shea. Holy crap that was a fucking terrible stadium in which to see a baseball game. You were far from the action; you felt like you were sitting in a giant mistake.

But at Yankee Stadium, I always felt surrounded by entitlement. Wall Street pricks got jacked up on coke and came to the game to take that edge off with several dozen beers. The combination was lethal. They suffered from massively inflated egos, and were aggressive to everyone around them, even their friends.

On the other hand, my god, Shea felt like home. Mets fans felt like a family, actually. They were lovable losers. These were my lovable losers. I too was a lovable loser. However long we'd been alive, we'd taken a drubbing for the duration. We woke up every day and had to live with ourselves, in a world where we worked too fucking hard for too fucking little pay.

Obviously, that is a simplification beyond simplification. I've come across some massively dickheaded Mets fans. And clearly not every Yankees fan fits the Wall Street stereotype. Most of the guys who work at the bagel store near my office are Yankees fans, and a nicer bunch of baseball fans you won't meet.

But instead of celebrity death this is what I was thinking about on the subway this morning, as I took the 7 train (this weekend's subway line in the Subway Series) on my way to work.

And there he was: the purest embodiment of the Mets fan. A portly, somewhat disheveled fellow wearing a Mets cap and t-shirt. His mouth hung open just a bit. The AC in the train car dripped every so often. It was landing on his thigh and sometimes on the hand he rested on his thigh.

Did he move? No. Did he wipe the water off his hand? No. He sat there and took it. It was everything he deserved. Just like that team from Queens. It's all he deserves. The meltdowns. The heartbreak. The leaky air-conditioning.

We take it. We were born to take it. We love these guys some call the Mets.

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At 7:19 AM , Anonymous blondandeffective said...

This almost makes me love the Mets. Almost...

At 10:43 AM , Blogger Lori said...

Who is blondandeffective? :)

Now that I am permanently bald, what can my name be?

Also sometime remind me and I'll tell you the story of why I am a Yankees fan. I also had choice in the matter. It's also back in my Caring Bridge posts, and I probably could find it for you.


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