In elementary school, I was one of three Mets fans in my 60-person class. By the time I was in fourth grade, I knew that Mets stood for “My Entire Team Sucks” and that the Yankees had won 26 World Championships compared to the Mets’ two. The Yankees now have 27. The Mets still have two. To the casual Yankee fan with a faded Derek Jeter t-shirt and a tendency to use something arbitrary like a successful local sports team to make themselves feel better than their peers, nothing else mattered. These fans may not have been able to name more than four players on the field or rattle off statistics, recent results and upcoming schedules, but that’s okay. The Yankees weren’t just the best, they were explicitly better than you. Whatever. I’m not bitter.
Last season, things changed. After years of choking and slipping into an embarrassing puddle of mediocrity, the New York Mets reached the World Series. Their season was one for the ages. The team started off hot but was plagued by injuries as it treaded water throughout the summer. The young pitching was electric, but the offense was dead. After a dramatic trade deadline, the Mets miraculously were four wins away from a World Series. Of course they “Mets’ed it up” as their hero became the goat with two critical errors, but the Mets were young and star-studded.
The Yankees were just the opposite. The team’s general manager, Brian Cashman (yes his last name is literally “cash man”) must have missed the memo when signing players like Carlos Beltran and Ichiro several years ago. I don’t need to pay 30 bucks to watch a washed-up 37-year-old former All-Star rot in the outfield. Just kidding! I couldn’t go to a Yankees game for 30 bucks. Hell, I probably couldn’t even buy a hot dog.
It’s 2016, not 2008. The steroid era is over. The baseball landscape is changing. You can’t just buy another championship. The Yankees of the 1990s had plenty of home-grown talent. Buying superstars every year only led to one championship (2009) and nobody outside of New York cared. Now, no one inside the City seems to care.
This year, the Yankees have the worst offense in baseball. They’re old, washed up and boring. And this criticism doesn’t even address the cold, classist sentiments of their ownership.
This isn’t to say that Mets’ ownership is stellar by any means. The Coupons… *cough* *cough* I mean Wilpons got wrapped up in Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme a few years back. They’ve been afraid to spend money for years and according to some fans, have effectively held the team hostage as they refuse to sell. But at least they don’t say things like “And quite frankly, the fan might be someone who has ever sat in a premium location. So that’s a frustration to our existing fan base” (SB Nation, “The Yankees don’t want their richest fans to have to sit next to poorer fans,” 02.18.2016). This statement was in response to why the Yankees organization stopped letting fans purchase tickets off of Stubhub. Because, you know, they don’t want their wealthy (ideal) fans sitting next to some gross poor people at games. That would just be frustrating and uncomfortable.
After a slow start that gave me John Mayberry Jr. flashbacks, the Mets have been red hot. And they’re not even firing on all cylinders yet. Their rockstar pitching staff has been slowed by a sluggish Matt Harvey, Jacob DeGrom’s sore lat and paternity leave, as well as Zack Wheeler’s extended rehab from Tommy John Surgery.
Still they have a 6’6” 23-year-old nicknamed Thor with long blonde locks, a 100-mph fastball and a 97-mph slider, one of the best upcoming hitters in baseball, and an Instagram account where their right fielder Curtis Granderson consistently trolls their starting first baseman Lucas Duda. They’re not just good, they are fun. The Yankees are about as much fun as a soggy waffle. The Mets are hip like it’s 1986 again. They may inevitably crash down to earth while the Yankees climb their mountain of money back up to the top but these moments will always make being a Mets fan worth it. I’ve always thought this was a “what have you done for me lately” kind of town anyway.