During the World Series player introductions Wednesday night, I wanted to figuratively shoot everybody (figuratively, of course, because I'm not nearly as violent as my baseball tendencies of late would indicate). By the ninth inning, however, I had consolidated my hatred.
This wasn't hard. This was sort of easy. These were the Not The Yankees in Phillies uniforms, and Not The Yankees has always been my favorite team in whatever game the Yankees are playing.
That's all I saw after a while: Not The Yankees. My personal Foxwoods Resort & Casino Turning Point of the Game was the play at the plate in the ninth, when Shane Victorino was unnecessarily trying to score a seventh run (who sent him, Razor Shines?) and I instinctively rooted for a collision that would send his head flying toward the Hard Rock Cafe. Oh wait, I thought, I'm going to need this unappealing person to annoy the Yankees some more before this thing is over. I can't wish him well, but I can hope whatever problems he encounters come while sanding his deck in December.
Or taking a champagne bottle up his rectum in a few days.
Sorry to blow the Mets Fan's Worst Nightmare scenario, but it no longer is…not this Mets fan's anyway. Maybe it will be when the cauldron of crimson hatred reopens for bitterness this weekend and the sight of 45,000 Victorinos reawakens my double-sided animus, but not at the moment. I don't like the Phillies; I'm not rooting for the Phillies; I haven't adopted the Phillies in that way I like to find a positive cause for the duration of a postseason when the Mets aren't there (e.g. long-suffering White Sox fans in 2005). But their victory equals Yankee defeat, simple as that. Yankee defeat is the cause which I always support when it's on the table.
Somebody has to pull the trigger. The Phillies have the only weapons left.
Besides surprising myself by deciding it was all right that Shane Victorino's head stayed attached to his neck and such, I also found myself feeling a tad proprietary about those Phillies. Not in the fleeting “my guys” sense I got from the Rays in '08 or Rox in '07 (can I pick a winner or what?), but from a recognition standpoint. We play them approximately a hundred times a year. They're familiar. They're from the neighborhood, if you will — the National League East neighborhood. Despite the Yankees technically receiving their mail in New York, I don't see them much in the course of a season. I avoided YES from April to early October because it aggravated me no end to watch its content, whereas I couldn't help but watch the Phillies prance across 2009 since they interacted with the Mets so often. Hence, last night, when I saw red-trimmed gray uniforms and a blue fence in the background (with no pinstripes clouding my field of vision), it felt less horrific than it should have. At stray moments, I found myself musing that could have been the Phillies playing the Mets at Shea.
I knew that assessment was waaaay skewed from reality, but the familiarity made the whole thing moderately more palatable than I'd anticipated. After all the “who will those downtrodden Mets fans root for?” whinging of the past week (mine no less whingey than anyone else's), I figured we must be involved here somewhere. Therefore, I decided what I'm watching is not a World Series between our two most despised counterparts but rather an MLB company picnic softball tournament. It's round-robin, and it just happens to be these squads' turn to play. Let's say the Phils are the trolls from IT and the Yankees are from the branch office in Hell.
The Mets? They're off getting some barbecue. Probably spilling it all over themselves, too.