The cruelest thing my parents ever did was take me to Shea Stadium. Child services should’ve taken me away right there.
It was May 17, 2005 – a typical spring day in that area, the temperature somewhere in the 60s and not a cloud in the sky. I was 6 years old, just wrapping up my first year at Harrison Elementary School and my first season of tee-ball in northern New Jersey. For whatever reason, that was the night my parents decided to change my life.
They dressed my brother and I in matching Mets shirts and drove us to Queens. I remember being in awe of the cavernous old ballpark; I had never seen so much green grass or anything as colorful as that scoreboard in my whole life.
The Mets beat the Cincinnati Reds that night 2-1, courtesy of a two-run homer in the seventh inning from Kaz Matsui. I was in love.
Unfortunately, that love affair continues to this day.
I (somewhat obsessively) root for one of the most dysfunctional organizations in sports. It’s not just that the Mets are a bad team (two seasons above .500 since 2008) – it’s that they are, for lack of a better word, a circus. Some highlights from this year alone:
In an unprecedented move, they hired an agent as their GM. He promptly traded some of the organization’s best prospects for 36-year-old Robinson Canó ($120 million over five years remaining on his contract, .250 average) and closer Edwin Díaz (4.81 ERA). Star player Yoenis Céspedes, who was already injured, broke his ankle falling in a hole at his Florida ranch and is out for the season. Manager Mickey Callaway and pitcher Jason Vargas were fined for cursing out a reporter. Two living people were included in a memorial video for deceased members of the 1969 team.
I love the Mets, but they’ve (for the most part) never loved me back. That’s OK.
At this point, they’re just a part of who I am. Suffering is part of being a sports fan. It builds character. It makes the great moments (like the Mets’ run to the 2015 World Series) even sweeter. If the Mets were like the Yankees (i.e., successful) I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
A lot of things have changed in my life since that night in 2005. I don’t have any of the same friends. I don’t live in the same place. I really don’t care about any of the things I cared about then.
The one constant has been Mets baseball. No matter how I’m feeling, what’s going on in my life, I can count on them to be there every day for six months of the year. That’s what makes being a baseball fan special.
Follow Sam Campisano on Twitter @samcampisano and contact him at [email protected].