(Today is "Smile Power Day." On a Monday? You've got to be joking. It's time for Cardboard Appreciation. This is the 35th in a series):
There isn't any major league team that I feel more conflicted over than the New York Mets.
I have mentioned before that my grandfather was a Mets fan. Once a week we would go to my grandparents' house, sit on the floor, eat chocolate ice cream and drink orange soda, listen to "Meet the Mets," and watch the team squander away another win (this was the late 1970s).
So, when I think of the Mets that way, I have great affection for them. But there is another side to the Mets.
There is the 1986 Mets side. Lenny Dykstra, Gary Carter, Darryl Strawberry. Bleech. There is the 1988 Mets. I wanted that team to DIE. There is Jose Reyes, Lastings Milledge. The 2006 Mets. I wanted that team to lose as painfully as possible. Yadier Molina, let me buy you a drink.
A lot of people want to make the Mets lovable or cuddly. Like they're the Cubs. But I have a hard time envisioning any team from New York City as lovable or cuddly.
And, it's been that way for years. Decades removed from my grandparents' living room, the Mets sank to bottom of my list of 30 teams. Year after year it was that way. And when Mets fans lamented their teams' fate, I'd say, "Are you kidding? You had Tom Seaver. You had Dwight Gooden. You had Keith Hernandez. You ripped away the first World Series championship a team had won in 68 years in 1986. What are you talking about?"
Well, after this past week, I think I know what they were talking about. Two painful extra-inning losses to the Phillies. A dropped pop fly by Luis Castillo on Friday, an annihilation by the Yankees on Sunday. And let's not forget two recent September collapses.
And then I look at a card like the card up top, No. 2 in the '92 Donruss Coca-Cola Nolan Ryan set (this is the only one I have. I must've gotten it out of a Coca-Cola product because it was the only way you could get them unless you sent away for the whole set). And I realize that the Mets did trade away Nolan Ryan. They did finish dead last those three years I was watching the Mets at my grandparents. Anthony Young did lose 27 straight games for the Mets in the early '90s. They did have to suffer through Anna Benson, and Lastings Milledge's rap song.
And now this past week.
So, you see I am conflicted. I think I like the Mets now more than I ever have since I watched the games with grandpa. Lovable? Don't make a Cubs fan laugh (not to mention a Phillies, Braves or Cardinals fan). But, yeah, the Mets have gone through their share of trauma. They have a bit of the spirit of the Brooklyn Dodgers in them.
See? Doug Flynn tells the story here. It's not easy being a Met all the time.