Thursday, October 19, 2006


I know I'm probably a little premature in writing this -- and I'll probably catch hell from those of you for whom knocking on wood has bearing on anything -- but it looks like the pendulum of New York baseball fandom is swinging back in the direction of Flushing, Queens. I've only been calling this one for ten years or so now, but it'’s happening again, and there'’s nothing I can do about it. This time, I'm not even gonna try. I'’ll just sit back and enjoy this one for as long as it keeps rolling.

Nouveau fandom doesn't matter to me much until I think about tickets, and what it takes to score a pair for Game 7 of the NLCS, or, dare I say it, for any home game of a potential World Series. I think about the hoops I'm going to have to jump through to get them because of all the Johnny-come-lately motherfucking bandwagon jumpers who'’ve suddenly figured out how to get to Shea Stadium after all these years.

Let me ask you a few things, though. The things I want to ask you will be difficult to answer, but they'll be along the same lines of the stumpers I ask every asshole I see walking around New York with a Yankees hat on:

"“Who played shortstop for the Yankees before Derek Jeter?" I'’ll ask them. "Name the three managers who came before Joe Torre. What the fuck is a Stump Merrill, and why did he ever set foot in the Bronx? Name one fucking Yankee besides Don Mattingly who was on the team before 1996."

So here we go again with the bitterness. It happens every time a team I like starts winning, because I'm the type who tends to stick with things. I've stuck with my Giants through Ray Handley and Dan Reeves. I was with the Knicks before Pat Riley came and saved the franchise, and I'’m still here to watch Isiah Thomas and the Dolans run it into the ground. Hell, I waited years to see Mark Messier carry the Stanley Cup around in '94, and I'm still here, waiting with my John Vanbiesbrouck jersey on, thinking maybe Jagr and Shanahan --– two of my contemporaries, for chrissakes --– might get to show me the same thing one of these days.

And I'm not even gonna start with the "You never played the game" argument I break out when people start crowing about their football teams. Trust me on this one, though. You people don'’t even know what the fuck you're watching. But that's another fight for another day.

Here'’s the thing: Where's Roger Clinton at these days? Still sitting courtside flashing gang signs at Larry Johnson? Still getting thrown out of playoff games at the Garden for fighting in the stands? Doubt it, but you get my point, don'’t you? Show a little something like the Mets did tonight -- I'm on the train home from watching the game in Manhattan as we speak -- and the bandwagon's wide open for all the jumpers to just pile the fuck on. Don't worry --– there's plenty of room. I'm looking at you, but I'm watching with a smile and a nod. Gracious, just this once.

Hubie Brooks? Who the fuck is he? Vince Coleman? Firecrackers? Bret Saberhagen? Bleach? What the fuck am I talking about? Jeff Torborg? Dallas Green? Art Motherfucking Howe? Are you serious?

You'’ll go to the games in your Pedro Martinez jersey, or you'’ll go to the bar, and your girlfriend will wear a little pink Mets visor and you'’ll get drunk and jump and scream and act like this means something to you. Good for you. That's good shit, you know? That's what we're here for. Have fun. Have a blast. Make as much noise as you can, because you're helping. Lord knows the Mets need that kind of advantage for Game 7, right? I still don't know who the fuck'’s gonna pitch, but that's not important right now. Oliver Perez? Not my problem right now. Not yours, either. Not on the way home.

I want you to think about something in the aftermath tomorrow (tonight), though, no matter what happens. Win, lose or draw, you're going to have to decide where to go from here. You'll need to make some choices. I'’ll give you some unsolicited advice to help you along -- some words of "wisdom" from nearly thirty years of uninterrupted fandom:

Sports are a lifetime thing. When you're in this for real, your team'’s picked out as a kid -- it usually goes by the first game you ever attend -- and that'’s who you roll with for the rest of your life, for the good and for the bad. You want to take on one of my teams after you move to New York? After you'’re a fully developed adult who'’s discovered what our Dads showed us decades ago --– that going to games is cool and fun? More power to you, but you don'’t have dominion over my type when it comes to how much this means to you. To me, it's an uninterrupted string. For you, a blip on your radar.

They're cyclical, sports are. Things will turn, and you won'’t like it, and you'’ll want to bail out. You'’ll find the next pink hat to buy -- the next bobblehead to put on your desk -- and the logo on the front won't match the one I'm wearing for a while. Don'’t worry about it, though. It'’s all good.

We'’ll still be here when you get back.