So, New Springfield's looking pretty good now, isn't it, with our ample parking and daily Who concerts.
—Mayor Homer Simpson
Probably no need to stoke these fires, but it's a long way from here to Wednesday at 8:20 PM, so what the hell?
I was listening to the FAN all through the overnight, a program devoted to Yankee grumbling, not Met exuding. As Jason said, fine with me. Let 'em gripe to high heavens, let 'em insist their truck must be backed up, let 'em beseech their PTB to switch drivers, let 'em bury those 35 homers and 121 ribbies they got from their third baseman. Let 'em get it out of their systems 'cause that's all they've got now. We've got games coming up.
But one thing, I think, bears noting. I heard a surprising plurality of the callers exclaim, “I'm embarrassed to be a Yankees fan.”
As well as you should be. But not because your team lost a playoff series.
This seems as good a moment as any to play the moral superiority card, so let's do it.
You're embarrassed to be a fan of your team? Then what the fuck kind of fan are you? Because as long as I've been a fan of the team I'm a fan of, I have never been embarrassed to be that fan.
Disgusted by my team's performance? Sure.
Annoyed by my team's decisions? Repeatedly.
Humiliated by my team's actions? Occasionally.
Depressed by my team's failures? Sometimes for years on end.
But embarrassed? Never. That's my team and I'm their fan. That's it. That's how it works. One devastating postseason series loss does not embarrass the fan out of you. Even if you've watched your team be eliminated…oh…six consecutive years, you do not become embarrassed by them. They suck? You suck…it up. It's part of the social contract.
If it's not for you, then it's not for you, in which case there's no law saying you have to stick with it. That's not an altogether dishonorable option. If your values system operates in a manner that tells you that a string of defeats at the worst possible instant is making your life more miserable than you can imagine the hypothetical down-the-road payoff being wonderful, then quit. If you can't view a few bad breaks now as a small price to pay for everything excellent you received then, give it up. You don't have to be a fan. There are other things to do with your life. Go do them. Enjoy.
But if you're going to stick with it, stick with it. Be mad, be sad, but don't be “embarrassed” by what or who you are. You called radio stations to crow and strutted down the street in your garb and probably haughted it over a few people who didn't share your particular fandom when it was all going swimmingly. Now that it's not, you can't be “embarrassed” to be that same fan. Don that cap, wrap yourself in that jacket and tell the world you still root for that team of yours, win or — this will shock you — lose.
Otherwise, you're the fraud we always suspected you were.
On the flip side, I heard a few Yankees fans mutter congratulations to the Mets and wish us luck (the good kind) in winning the World Series. They're New Yorkers, they said. Willie deserves it, they said. At least the Mets know how to play the game, they said. Whether they meant it or not, it was fairly gracious. It's more than I ever managed in 1996 when it was de rigueur in some quarters to act that way in the other direction. At the end of that year's October, the Mets took out an ad in one of the papers congratulating the Yankees. I hung it on my office door. If Fred and Nelson could tip their cap, so could I…for about two hours until I got ahold of myself and tore it down.
Now that was embarrassing.
My partner in this blog is an insightful guy. We were at one of the Subway Series games in May when I noticed how little attention our slice of Shea, regardless of affiliation, was paying to this rubber match, the one that was reportedly such a hot ticket, the one all of New York was said to be atwitter over. How, I asked him, can everybody not be glued to their seats — or at least standing in front of them — when so much is riding on this?
“I hate to break it to you,” he answered, “but not everybody is a fan the way you are and I am.”
There really are such animals as casual fans and bandwagon fans and fans whose interest ebbs and flows. There are people who simply like to get caught up in a phenomenon and people whose curiosity draws them to a crowd and people who have the means to attend Events and buy their way in because it's the thing to do. There are people who can take it or leave it depending on the quality of what it is. There are even people who think it's neat when a team, any team, that plays where they live is successful. Those same people didn't care before and they will drift away soon after.
Mind-boggling, I know, but they're apparently out there. As long as they're pleasant and relatively sincere, I don't mind their participation. Being a part of something bigger than yourself is what a bandwagon is all about, whether you were on the bandwagon when there were plenty of good seats available or whether you're cramming your way onto the last open car (step behind the yellow line — there's another one right behind it approaching the station!).
I'm not going to worry too much about what those who weren't Mets fans before 2006 — especially before Holy Saturday, October 7, 2006 — are thinking as long as I've got the Mets versus the Cardinals or the Mets versus the Padres to worry about. The more the merrier, et al, though I'd certainly prefer some heretofore apathetic ass not be glued to a mezzanine seat that by all rights belongs under one of our orange and blue bottoms. Should what comes next proceed well, we're the ones who will revel the deepest. Should it not, we know the drill. We might be disgusted, annoyed, humiliated or depressed. We might be all of that at once. But we'll never be embarrassed to be Mets fans.
I'd be ashamed of us if we were.