For Love Of The Game

Yesterday I spent the day at a friend’s house during the Mets/Phillies game. This friend just recently had a son, the first child in our group of friends. You know as I was hanging out outside, I’d check in on the game in the living room, we both watched the final outs and once the game was over we went back to the party.

It got me thinking about all of the negative stuff going on within this fan base lately. To me, it seems the negative Mets fan has lost their way a little bit. They’ve forgotten that 25 guys are dressing up in a uniform, playing the game we love…but that their success or failures shouldn’t shape our lives.

I mean, the most laughable thing to me is when fans say the Wilpon’s don’t spend money. If I buy my wife a Christmas gift that costs $150, and she says I didn’t spend any money on her gift, how would I take that? They do spend $, and yet we blame them for having a budget solely because the Yankees do not? The Red Sox don’t compare their budget to the Yankees, why do we?

Simply because we play in the same city? If you’re a Mets fan and think the Mets are on the same level as an organization as the Yankees then you my friend are living dazed and confused.

Cubs, Brewers, Astros, Padres, Orioles, Cleveland, Detroit, Royals, Seattle, Texas, Washington, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh, Colorado, San Francisco, and of course the NY Mets. 

53% of Major League Baseball fan bases have not seen a World Series Championship since 1986. Of those 16 teams, only FIVE have been to a World Series since the Mets went in 2000. (SFG, HOU, DET, COL, TBY). If you want to use 1986 as your measuring stick, then you’d just add Cleveland and San Diego to the list of World Series losers since 1986.

So have times been tough lately? Sure… but I haven’t heard Cubs, Mariners, Rangers, or Giants fans complaining and boycotting. Have you? 

This all got me thinking why am I a Mets fan? Am I a Mets fan to b*tch and complain about every single move they make or don’t make? Am I a Mets fan to “protest” the brand new gorgeous stadium that my home team has opened up? I mean look, I’m not saying the team can’t or shouldn’t frustrate you at times. There’s just this sense of entitlement with Mets fans lately that I’ve grown tired of. 

I’m a Mets fan because my younger sister was born on October 22, 1985 and on Saturday, October 25, 1986 my family held her 1st birthday party. 

I was just 4 years old at the time, and couldn’t have told you what baseball was. What I did know was that I had two older brothers, and 3 older cousins all turned my sister’s 1st birthday party into a “Let’s Go Mets” home video. 

To be honest, I have absolutely no idea if we or anybody in that house watched the game. Anybody who tells you they remember details of a night when they were 4 years old has to be lying right? 

You probably have a tradition where you watch A Christmas Story or for me National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation every holiday season. For us, we watched that video almost every October when we were kids. 

We got our own copies of the Mets Year to Remember VHS, where the details of their season were captured on video. Every day you spend home from school sick until you graduate high school, you watched that tape. 

We now all own it on DVD. “Swung on, that’s the ballgame… into deep left field, that ball is gone! A Grand Slam Homerun! Timmy Teufel and the New York Mets win it 8-4!” 

I was a Wally Backman fan. I remember putting my glove over my mouth spitting into it like I always saw him do. My mother had a hobby of sewing during those days, and we each got our own full-Mets uniform made. They were pretty B.A. I was Backman, my brothers were Lenny & Gary. (Way cooler than the days when we pretended to be the Ghostbusters. Nobody ever wanted to be Egon.) 

I fell into some rough times with baseball in the early 90’s. What young Mets fan didn’t? I used to write teams letters, and probably some poor intern had the job of writing me back. Sending me bumper stickers, and baseball cards. The Padres were a team that always wrote me back, the Braves too actually. 

It’s funny, I was into the Braves dynasty in their early years but once they got good I jumped off the bandwagon. I mean god forbid I root for a team that’s successful right?  I always came back to the Mets and as I got older, into middle school, I stuck with the Mets. Just in time for the Yankees dynasty, great. 

My love for the sport has grown into an appreciation for stats, sabermetrics (although I’m no expert), and the business of baseball. I worked as an intern for the AA Twins affiliate when Joe Mauer was a part of the team. I worked for 4 years with the Hudson Valley Renegades, Class A for Tampa Bay. I saw guys like Longoria, Hamilton, Wade Davis filter through the system. (Hamilton was there in 1999 when I worked as a High School student)

I moved on from there, and I work for a non-profit now. I found working in minor league baseball was taking time away from my love of the game. I got to meet a lot of great and interesting people, and I’ve got stories that will last me a lifetime for sure. 

Now, I write for MetsMerizedOnline. My first article here was defending Omar Minaya from a backlash of quick judgments and I wanted to offer a different perspective.

 I’ve been through a lot in the past two years. My cousin who just turned 30 has been battling ovarian cancer for 2 years, my wife’s mother has just finished her treatment for breast cancer and now we are expecting our 1st child in January. 

I think all of this among other things has helped me mature as a baseball fan. I am sure at one time I would’ve gotten so incredibly angry over yesterday’s game. My life would’ve depended on Omar Minaya making a big trade, or Jerry Manuel being fired. 

Now, I’ve figured out it’s just a game. The day the NY Mets win the World Series will be an amazing day in my life, but it won’t be any better than the day a Doctor tells my mother in law or my cousin that they are cancer free. It won’t be better than the day my 1st child is delivered healthy. 

That’s why I’m a Mets fan. That’s why I don’t look for the negative when watching the Mets. If they stink, they stink. It happens. I don’t need to boycott going to a stadium until people lose their jobs simply because I don’t like losing. There are not many things greater than going to a baseball stadium. The Mets could be a 50 win team this year, I’m still going. Heck, I live 2.5 hours away and I went 4 times last summer, and they were dreadful.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t be frustrated or you shouldn’t want the Mets to make changes and turn things around. I am saying sometimes you gotta look at your own life, and then remember why you became a Mets fan. Remember that when you stick with the 2010 Mets, you’re sticking with Josh Thole, Ike Davis, Jose Reyes, David Wright, and Ruben Tejada. A potential all homegrown infield with an average of age of what? 24?

Not every year is a championship year. For the most part this team was very exciting to watch, and had some of you saying we were “1 move away from a World Series,” now that they have sunk, we’re ready to jump off?

The greatest phrase in sports is “There’s always next year,” and the greatest day in sports is Opening Day. 

One of the greatest accomplishments of any sports fan is when their team has great success and they can say they stuck with their team through the tough times. Imagine the look on a Cubs fan’s face if the Mets win the World Series in 2013 and you tell them that you boycotted the team in 2010 and 2011?

I love writing about the Mets and about the sport of baseball. I know I’m mostly the guy people think is being an apologist for a franchise. I’m not sure why it matters? I like to look at things through a different light. I don’t need to always focus on the negatives, and I don’t think every single argument is a clear cut case of you’re right and the Mets are wrong.

Sure, sometimes I get frustrated but I’ll always remember it’s just a game.  

Why are you a Mets fan?

About Michael Branda 267 Articles
Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.