An MMO Fan Shot by Christina Jones.
I am an international baseball fan.
Baseball is a beloved sport in many countries, it’s watched worldwide and adored by millions.
But my experience of being a baseball fan in England has been a pretty lonely one.
“How did you get into baseball?” “How did you become a Mets fan?” – Two questions I’m asked frequently and unfortunately the answer I have is pretty typical.
The truth is, they were the losing team in the first baseball game I ever watched. I saw a game years ago, it was the Mets and the Phillies. I’m not sure what the finishing score was, but Jayson Werth homered early on in the game and I just took a disliking to him and decided to root for the other team. There is nothing springing to mind as to why I disliked Werth, he wasn’t as caveman-ish back then as he is now, I just didn’t like him.
Maybe, I had a premonition about him and realized eventually he was going to play for the Nats and have some weird aversion to hairbrushes and showers and… just generally looking like he washed? But I do wonder if it was anyone else that homered and not Werth in that moment. Would I be sitting here writing this as a Phillies fan? God, I hope not.
I can’t sit here and say I remember every moment, every play and every hit – because I don’t.
Neither can I say that I was aware at the time, that the unassisted triple play that ended the game was extremely rare. And it was only the second unassisted triple play to end a game, and the 15th unassisted triple play in baseball history.
I can say I do remember watching the game and thoroughly enjoying it though. I also remember my eldest nephew only being weeks old at the time and my very exhausted sister interrupting me halfway through so I could give him a bottle, which I did.
The game was on TV, I was in the living room with my dad and his father and we watched it in silence, they didn’t particularly love it, but they didn’t hate it.
I absolutely loved it.
I’m pretty certain the only reason my Dad left it on the television was because we had exhausted every other channel looking for something to watch and nothing else seemed worthwhile. So we gave up looking and settled on the game, which looking back is a little bit shocking as the only sport my dad was willing to give a second of his time to was Rugby and if it wasn’t the New Zealand All Blacks playing, he wasn’t interested. This wasn’t the only time I watched baseball with Dad, but it was the only time I watched it with my Granddad.
What I take away most from that game was hearing that crack of the bat when it smashed into the ball. That sound is my favorite sound in the world and it has been since that day.
I do remember that for a while afterwards it was extremely hard to watch games here, and even harder to watch a specific team.
Eventually, (after months of begging my mum), I got a subscription to MLB.tv and was able to stream online on our crappy family computer.
But back to what I was saying about it being a lonely experience. For years and years every time I listed baseball as something i loved and when i answered baseball as my favorite sport, it was received with a look from the other person/people like i’d just made up my own language and attempted to communicate with them in it.
I recall one day, I was wearing a Mets jersey whilst out shopping with a friend and hearing these three guys making a comment about how they bet I didn’t even enjoy “basketball” and how i’d probably never seen it. And I wish that I can tell you that I corrected them and put them in their place, but in reality I just sunk into myself and walked away.
For years and years it was something I enjoyed alone, something I never had anyone to talk to about and something that made me feel extremely happy but at the same time extremely alone.
I would sit up alone at night after sneaking back downstairs, switch on my computer and pray our WiFi wouldn’t be completely crap and would allow me to watch the Mets in peace and then I’d sneak back upstairs either extremely happy or extremely pissed off depending on how the game went and sleep for a few hours before reluctantly getting myself up a few hours later.
In school, we didn’t have baseball as part of our PE curriculum, we had something called rounders which in reality is a piss-poor watered down version that isn’t even half as much of the fun. A rounders PE lesson was basically the whole class in a line waiting to bat, with the exception of four people “fielding” about 200 feet away, and the teacher pitching/throwing the ball at the person batting. No strike system, you either hit it or you didn’t. If you did hit the ball, you’d run the bases which consisted of three poles that were unassisted, and you’d have to keep your bat on you the whole time you ran. And if you had to stop at a pole/base, the bat needed to keep contact with it the whole time. You can google the rest, I’m not really sure of the rest of the “rules.” It was crap though. And if you didn’t hit the ball you’d just join the end of the line again.
So I would watch the games and for a long while, not really understand terms as it wasn’t taught to me and I’d spend a lot of the time trying to piece things together and search on Wikipedia what things meant and re-read the rules. It was one of the reasons I was reluctant to reach out and find other baseball fans as I felt kind of stupid when I’d have to Google a term, even after just watching a player do it.
And it’s actually only in the last few seasons that I’ve actually communicated with fellow baseball fans, most are in the USA, but a handful of them are here in England as well. I have followed the Mets on Twitter since I made my account, but it’s actually only the last three seasons that I’ve reached out to Mets fans and made a few friends in the process.
But even after watching baseball for almost 10 years and now actually having people to speak to and discuss games with, I still feel like I need to remain silent and despite the fact I know what i’m saying is correct, I second guess myself and tend to remain silent and keep my opinions to myself.
And it stems from a fear that maybe i’ll mispronounce something or make a small mistake because this isn’t second nature for me, and I see how articulate so many of you are and how all of this comes to you so easily because this game has been a part of your lives since day one, that I fear that I’ll be made fun of or my love for the Mets will be doubted because of this.
But one thing I have been able to share is my love for the players, the team and my happiness/sadness when we’ve welcomed and said goodbye to new players. And the joy I’ve felt when my favorite players have had success and the sadness when they haven’t.
Now I’m going take a few moments to just write about some of those players that helped me fall in love with the game.
The first Met who I classed as a favourite was Ángel Pagán. As I said previously, it wasn’t easy to manage to watch games here especially before my subscription to MLB.tv but I really enjoyed watching him play. He probably doesn’t deserve to be listed as No. 1, and the only reason he’s here is because he was the first player who’s name I remembered. Probably because of his homer in the first game I saw. But still I enjoyed watching him, even years later as a Giant.
The second and probably the most important player was the one I grew to love and appreciate the most, and this name will come to no surprise to any of you. David Wright. I don’t think I could possibly write about his talent, the joy, and love for the game he exuded with enough justice. The sheer joy and excitement I would experience when it was his time to step up to bat was electric and throughout the years that feeling grew stronger and stronger. And through the latter part of his career, I felt the agony and crushing devastation that came with his health problems along with every other Mets fan on this planet. One of the things I love the most about being a Mets fan is feeling that sense of pride when someone speaks about Our Captain and feeling so proud to have watched him play and supporting him.
Thirdly, Jacob deGrom. Honestly I don’t have the capacity to tell you how badly I want to see him pitch live, and nothing makes me feel luckier knowing we have his talent on our team. Y’all don’t need me to tell you all that he is a phenomenal pitcher, but I will say that there is no better feeling than watching deGrom pitch. Every pitch he throws is a piece of beauty. I adore this man, and appreciate everything he does for this team.
I’m just going to throw in a few more names of players I loved/love and have made me very happy whilst/while currently in blue and orange:
Lucas Duda, Ike Davis, R.A. Dickey, Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Carlos Beltrán, Luis Castillo, Daniel Murphy, Addison Reed, Dillon Gee, Rubèn Tejada, Justin Turner, Travis d’Arnaud, Juan Lagares, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz, Michael Conforto and many many more.
In the UK, I have noticed particularly over the past two seasons that this is a steadily growing number of new fans of the sport, and next year we will have our first ever MLB games played here in the England in the London Stadium – a series between the Yankees and the Red Sox.
A MLB series being played here has been something rumored for a long while, and every time the rumors have crept back out, I have very loudly wished it would be the Mets playing on English soil, so i’m sure you could imagine the disappointment I felt reading it was their crosstown rivals.
But it brings me hope nonetheless, it brings me hope that this game will continue to grow in this country, more people who experience the thrill of the game and my fingers are firmly crossed that the series next year will be a success and just as the NFL has a yearly series here that MLB will have the same.
And as the popularity continues to grow, I have hope that the loneliness that has come with being a fan in a small English town will lessen and that one day i’ll be able to share my love of this sport with someone who understands my passion and appreciates the beauty that is the game of baseball.
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This Fan Shot was written and contributed by MMO community member and die-hard Mets fan Christina Jones. Have something you want to say about the Mets? Send your article to GetMetsmerized@aol.com or use this Contact Form. Or ask us about becoming a regular contributor.