- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Give That Team a Nat Sherman Cigar

Fine Sunday night for Cousin Harvey’s favorite football team [1]. Satisfying retribution exacted against San Francisco [2] for kidnaping New York’s first National League baseball team. Intriguing thought crossing my mind as I dare to dream that the forthcoming Giants-Patriots Super Bowl works out as well as the last one [3]:

If the Giants win a fourth Super Bowl, how on earth does a Giants fan complain about anything? Anything Giants-related, at any rate. The rest of your life remains up for grabs, but if your team unfurls a fourth championship banner in generally living memory — particularly if they’re spread out one per decade for the last four decades (’80s, ’90s, ’00s, ’10s) as these would be — how could you say “boo” to anything about your team?

Ever? Or if not ever, then for a very long time?

I suppose it doesn’t work that way, but how would I know for sure? My primary rooting interest is in a Mets franchise that won championships twice, seventeen years apart, and hasn’t won one in the 25 going on 26 years since. Having lived through The Years After (1970 and 1987), I know the complaining reignites quickly enough after the glitter fades. Why do you think that with so much other crap that’s come along across two millennia that we still bitch/moan about Terry Pendleton? Letdown is the seamy underside of triumph.

Though all sporting enterprises are also-rans in my angst-ridden affection when compared to my Mets attachment, I’ve managed to revel in tastes of ultimate success elsewhere — and stew over the acrid aftertaste of their inevitable letdown. It happened with the Giants in 1987 and 1991 and 2008. It happened with the early ’70s NBA champion Knicks I loved as a child; the mid-’70s ABA Nets I loved as a slightly older child, too (in their case the letdown was precipitated by the opening of the trapdoor that purported to welcome them into the NBA). The Islanders dynasty of 1980-1983 fell apart nearly thirty years ago and has yet to remotely reassemble.

But there’s something different going on here if the Giants win again. One championship now and then (more then than now where the Mets are concerned) represents a healthy cyclicality. A spate of them in proximity to one another is great fortune. But to have a couple here and then a couple there? Two relatively golden ages that don’t overlap but almost abut (when you consider 1991 through 2006 produced six additional playoff berths and another Super Bowl appearance)? If the Giants achieve that…well, you literally can’t complain.

If you’re a Giants fan of a vintage old enough to recall Super Bowl XXI, then you’ve been blessed three times already, even if in between Lombardi presentations there were some frustrating downward spirals. If you’re XXX years of age or younger, you haven’t had it so bad, because you have Super Bowl XLII in the very recent past. You’re not the football equivalent of the younger Mets fans I come across who don’t exactly cherish 1969 and 1986 because unlike them, you’ve experienced the highest of highs directly as opposed to historically. Now, if XLVI is colored the most desirable shade of blue, then everybody with an overarching Giant allegiance should be very happy.

I mean so happy that you have nothing to complain about.

You can’t complain about a potential letdown because shut up, you just won two Super Bowls in five seasons.

You can’t complain about getting knocked out of the playoffs because shut up, you just won two Super Bowls in five seasons…and you did it before.

You can’t complain about not making the playoffs because shut up, you have four Super Bowls that span just over a quarter-century, do you have any frigging idea how lucky you are?

It may not be a dynasty in the Steelers of the ’70s or Niners of the ’80s sense, but it may be better. It means your “suffering” (in the Giants’ case, the interminable wait for pre-XXI salvation and then the XVII years between XXV and XLII) has been ameliorated twice.  You win again and the letdown period after XLII has been wiped out as well. There’s no longer any backlash to invoking the good old days the way there can be for the Mets since for some (even those who lived through them), the good days can serve as a bitter reminder that they aren’t being matched by particularly good new days. If you win in two weeks, you root for a team that won its league title in 1986, 1990, 2007 and, as the NFL calendar continues to call it, 2011.

The Giants do all that for you, you really can’t complain.

And if you’re a sports fan, what fun is that?