Monday, November 1, 2010

My History with Baseball Fandom, part 1: The Mets, '83-'92

Now that the World Series has drawn to a close and free agency (ie, the Cliff Lee Sweepstakes) has fallen upon us, I thought I'd take the opportunity to reflect on my history as a baseball fan. An excellent postseason (even though the Series itself was kind of a dud, it was still nice to see San Fran finally get a championship) is kind of what drew me back into the game after being away for so long. I've tried many times over the years to get back into it; recently, following the Orioles and Nationals, daily, after moving to northern Virginia. But, what it boils down to is the lack of an emotional resonance with either of these clubs. When I lived in Lancaster, PA I had just as difficult of a time caring about the nearby Phillies, despite watching them night after night. So, the following is merely a blow by blow account of each of the MLB franchises for which I've rooted, starting with the only team I have continually held strong affection:


1983-'92: New York Mets

The Mets are the team I've gone back to again and again. In fact, I can argue that I never really left them. It all started as a very young boy, just discovering baseball, when my grandfather first had cable installed. One of the channels was a local NY City station, WWOR (where I also later discovered then unknown comedian Mario Cantone's Sunday morning kids show "Steampipe Alley"), which carried the majority of the Mets' games. I spent a lot of time at my grandparents' house, particularly during the summer, while my parents were at work, and subsequently watched a lot of Met games. It's how I learned to love the game.

For whatever reason, newly acquired catcher Gary Carter quickly became my favorite player, although I suspect I may have loved Mookie Wilson nearly as much. Basically, after "The Kid" and Mookie, every other player on the team was tied for my second favorite: Keith Hernandez, "Dr. K" Dwight Gooden, Darryl Strawberry, Lenny Dykstra (despite him often pushing Mookie out of the lineup at CF), Wally Backman, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, Howard Johnson--- it all culminated with them winning one of the most exciting World Series of all time, and a young impressionable kid like me was hooked. I fully expected this incredibly talented youthful Mets team to win a few more, and if it weren't for cokeheads Darryl, Keith, and Doc Gooden, maybe they would've.

Anyway, after the brief flirtation with a late season callup of "The Phenom", Gregg Jeffries, and the emergence of David Cone in the 1988 season, that team was swiftly dismantled and soon found itself mired in mediocrity. The "Mackey Sasser Years" of the early '90s weren't all that fun, but I still watched the games in hope that moves such as bringing in Frank Viola, Eddie Murray, and Bobby Bonilla would produce big dividends, but it was never the same. As Chuck Klosterman said about rooting for the Boston Celtics in the '80s, at a certain point you're just rooting for laundry.

Honorable mention: In 1988

Toronto Blue Jays, Pittsburgh Pirates, Atlanta Braves, NY Yankees
Three Rivers Stadium
Buffalo Bisons
Pilot Field

1988-'95: Oakland Athletics

Jose Canseco
Cleveland Indians
Major League
Howard Johnson
Frank Viola

1999-'05: Boston Red Sox

2000 Mets
Chicago Cubs
Wrigley Field

2008-'10: Baltimore Orioles vs. Washington Nationals

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