If you’re going to root for an awful baseball team, they might as well be interesting.
The New York Mets have been synonymous with losing my entire life. If the Yankees represent New York City’s extravagance and excess, the Mets represent its misery—down on their luck, perpetual failures with ever-so fleeting moments of success (remember 2015, anyone?).
And this season, the Mets’ incompetence off the field has matched their ineptitude on it.
Their rookie manager is in over his head. Their biggest star is currently suffering from a virus that sounds like it’s reserved for children and Eastern European horse farmers. All their other players (except for Jacob deGrom) are old, hurt or just plain not very good at baseball. They’re 16 games under .500 and just gave up 25 runs in a single game to their biggest rival.
They’re awful. And I couldn’t be more riveted.
Unlike some Mets fans, I don’t consider my fanhood virtuous. There’s no nobility in rooting for a perennial loser. I’m not watching the Mets to build character through failure or learn lessons from losing. And I admit, if the Mets were just plain-old bad, I would’ve checked out weeks ago.
But this Mets season is anything but plain. It’s a runaway train barreling into a car fire. There are no positive aspects to it. It’s pure unadulterated misery, and it’s entertaining as hell.
Can you think of another team who’s manager would learn of a player’s season-ending injury after the media had already reported it? How about a franchise whose billionaire owners would brand themselves as victims of Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff when they actually made money from Madoff and are quietly helping to pay off his actual victims? Or an organization that has the balls to tell its fans, after generations of inadequacy, that “ya gotta believe”?
I follow the Mets for the same reason I watch Game of Thrones—I only know the names of like five characters and I have no idea what’s going to happen, but things will probably be bad. Will their coaching staff forget the rules? Will they bring on a fan to pitch the eighth inning? Will a player drop a fly ball because of a UFO? With the Mets, anything is possible.
Sure, it’d be nice if the Mets won more often. But if they did, we’d never fully understand this this kind of impotence. We’d have no one to reference, no team to point to as the bastion of professional sports futility. Besides, if your team wins too much, you run the risk of becoming self-entitled schmuck with a superiority complex based around who your dad rooted for when you were a kid. In other words, a Yankee fan.
The Mets’ current misery level has me locked in through the end of September. But I think we can make things even bleaker. Close the restaurants in center field. Force fans to park in Manhattan. Mr Met could have a #MeToo moment. The Mets have taught me that even when you’ve hit rock bottom, there’s always another way down.