To The Die-Hards

The baseball season enters its final stage today. Last year, I watched almost every single game of the postseason because I needed the distraction from trying to rebuild my life.

This year, baseball has been exciting for altogether different reasons.

  • I followed baseball’s regular championship season very closely, especially after the All-Star Break. Credit that the subscription is significantly discounted after the All Star Break.
  • I actually attended some games this year, including Opening Day in LA, resumed my annual tradition of going to Flushing for a Dodgers-Mets game, and travelled to Baltimore to join my friend as he visited his thirtieth major league park.
  • The Dodgers had an excellent season. However, the team’s flaws became evident as they faced the Mets, a team that apparently has forgotten how to lose.

Speaking of which, the Mets and the Royals are the last two teams standing. A lot of players will be enacting their childhood dreams tonight as they play in the World Series! It must an absolutely exciting experience for everyone involved, including the fans. Players, managers, coaches, and front-office personnel have spent their entire professional lives for this opportunity, and heaven knows that fans of the Mets and of the Royals have suffered through some pretty terrible teams over the last couple of decades. They’re all due.

But as is common with any winning team, the bandwagon starts to pick up hop-ons. It’s amusing to see many baseball fans, many of whom I’ve seen wear NY Yankees gear, suddenly trade in their slovenly navy-and-white, interlocking “NY” caps for a crisp blue-and-orange one, with a curvier set of letters on the front.

However, I’m excited for the many long-suffering fans who have the warmest seats on their team’s bandwagon. I usually avoid naming people on this site, but I think, in this case, they deserve to be recognized their loyalty. Hopefully, people Googling their names in the future will not be fans of the Yankees or Cardinals…or whoever wins this year’s series.

New York Nationals

  • Michele B. had a ticket package when I first met her, and she was the only one of Sarah’s friends who knew more about baseball than I did. She also initially approved of my going out with Sarah because I “liked the Mets.”
  • Julian C. was a grad-school colleague, and I attended several games with him at Shea Stadium from his family’s Saturday-game plan in the early 2000s. He knows more about baseball than anyone else I’ve ever met, save for the late Robert Sklar.
  • Jill G. and Jake L. are two new friends from the McCarren Park softball world. I can almost see the scars on their bodies from years of disappointing Mets teams. Jill could probably name you every player who has ever batted clean-up for the Mets. For example, she reminded me about Jose Valentin. Jake, on the other hand, is a bit more reserved. I suspect it’s a bit hard for him to conjure up memories of those terrible, terrible teams.
  • Steve L. recently finished his exhausting tour of thirty major league parks. He didn’t finish it in a year, but that’s because he mostly—if not only—went to Mets games. He’s getting married next spring, and if the Mets pull this off, I feel he’ll have the most unreal twelve months of his life. Only a kid and a paid residency at a BBQ joint would make the year better.
  • Eddie and Rich S. are twin brothers I met over a decade ago in McCarren Park playing softball. Eddie recently showed me photos of his Mets memorabilia collection, including his signed Benny Aghbayani jersey. Rich lives in Jersey now so he’s miserable enough to need those kind of tchotchkes.
  • Matt S. is someone I met in grad school and played softball with on our Cinema Studies intramural team. He was always a die-hard Mets fan, and I’m excited that he finally gets to forgive Carlos Beltran for striking out in 2006.
  • Eric S. and I have watched more Mets games together—both on TV and at the park—than any of my other friends. We even had a ticket package at old Shea Stadium in mid-2000s that got us some Opening Day games and a handful of Yankee games. We sometimes sold those at a nice markup.

Kansas City Americans

  • Jonathan M. told me a couple of years ago that he was a Royals fan. I thought he was joking.

As for me, I’m quietly rooting for the New York Nationals. I had followed the Dodgers since Opening Day and, although I had a feeling they would poop the bed in the playoffs, I wanted them to do well. At the same time, I have been a Mets sympathizer but only kinda. Since moving to New York so many years ago I vowed to root for the Mets, but the only times they’ve even made the playoffs since I’ve been here, they’ve faced—and then beaten—the Dodgers. But even now that the Mets have risen to the top of the National League, I’m staying off the bandwagon. I don’t have a right to claim a seat, and after all, I am not big on crowds.

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