Saturday, July 28, 2001

Metropolitan, Straight Up by John Ross Bowie

The thing about Mets fans, my friend Rob is quick to point out, is that they’re not always sports fans. He’s onto something—I love the Mets, and I was really one of those kinda anti-sports kids. Partly out of an aversion to the machismo and violence inherent in high school athletics, but largely due to a vast lack of coordination on my part (it was like I didn’t know where my arms ended). And I’m not a baseball historian—that’s me in the orange seats asking questions like “Where are the Cardinals from? What does RBI stand for? Since when is Coors Light so expensive?”

But The Mets—that’s something different. I was born in Queens. Me and hip-hop and the Mets. I spent the first three years of my life in Rego Park. Now I live in Astoria, not too far from that Greek place on 34th and Broadway. I know, I know, which Greek place? There’s a also a good Greek place on 31st, under the N train before you get to the Dunkin Donuts on the Boulevard . . . See? You don’t care. That’s my point. Nobody cares about Queens. It has neither the glitz of Manhattan nor the bohemian mystique of Brooklyn (I’ll get to the Bronx in a moment, and I will not waste our time with Staten Island). Queens just is. Queens is your cousin who you don’t have a lot in common with but he’s laid back and totally unpretentious and knows where to get a great souvlaki at 3 AM. And the Mets play in Queens. Out near Flushing Meadows Park, which is where my parents met at the ’64 Worlds Fair. 2 years after the Mets franchise started. The Mets have lasted longer than my parents relationship.

Geography plays a big part – ever live in New York City and then visit some place else? People treat you like you’re either a foreign dignitary or a retard. But the key thing is that you are special, you are from New York City. Not America. However, you’ll notice that most of New York City is an archipelago, and the Bronx (where the Yankees play) is part of the mainland. And might as well be in Nebraska for all I fucking care.

The Yankees are repugnant. I was an English major, I’m a working actor now, and the Yankees make for lousy drama. 25 World Series? 3 in the past 4 years? That’s boring. That’s like a shitty movie where you can guess the outcome by the first plot point. The Yankees date Mariah Carey. The Yankees are very clearly the bad guys, the Goliath, the Grendel without the sympathy vote.

The Mets were, for a period of time during their fascinating 90’s, the only team in Major League Baseball with two Japanese starting pitchers. They currently employ two players from the Dominican Republic and one from Venezuela (Edgardo Alfonzo, who my research tells me, leads the National League in second basing.) They've got the boars tooth toting Turk Wendell. They’ve got the sheer batting ferocity of Benny Agbayani, whose name is Benny Agbayani. They’ve got the wisdom of John Franco who’s actually from New York City!!! And even still lives here!!! They still sort of have Rey Ordonez, a Cuban Refugee who missed most of this season because he fractured something called an ‘ulna’!!! They’ve got Jay Payton, who took a fastball to the head in game 5 against St. Louis and charged the mound, because only a pussy stops to see if he’s really hurt!!! They’ve got Timo Perez, who’s so new his name doesn’t even have a hotlink on the Mets website!!! I’ve done my homework!!! And a few years ago they made baseball and mental health history by putting Pete Harnisch on the Disabled List for DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY!!! How can you not love this team?

The Mets are not my team because they (finger quotes) “win a lot of games” The Mets are my team because they have drama, pathos, diversity and Mike Piazza. And no matter what happens this week in Queens or on the mainland, the Mets have me.

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