Why you should root for the Mets

By John Giuffo

Published October 27, 2000 7:52AM (EDT)

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I read with great interest Giuffo's latest "editorial" on Salon.com, hoping to gain the haughty bunch of chuckles I so dearly enjoyed in his last outing vs. everyone west of Riverside Avenue. How disappointed I was to learn my orange-and-blue-caped working-class crusader offered up as much of the predictable drool, jokes included, one hears most out of the Cult of Piazza. He didn't once mention the baseball games.

What bothers me about him and his Mets fans is "Soxism" -- the belief every time their team loses by means of a gunshot wound to the foot it's due to this ever-present cloud of baseball oppression. Bill Buckner didn't seem like oppression to me, it seemed like tripping over a suitcase that happened to contain $10 million in unmarked, non-sequential bills. As though the Braves of last year were miraculously awarded a three-games-to-none series lead to open the pennant by means of a rigged coin toss. While we're at it, I forget, did the Braves win a game after they took you out last year? And wait a minute, how are you in this Series to begin with, you true New Yorkers, when your team couldn't take out that team, you know, the one with the guy with crossed-eyes, spooky twitch and the greatest declaration of war since 1941? Choked on that dick, didn't you? Good thing they weren't around this year.

It's about the "real" characters behind Giuffo's farce? We have Joe Torre, the consummate quiet, hard-working, skillful pro who knows his resolve and believes in his vets. You got Bobby Valentine, that clever, resourceful, "Man, that Groucho Marx get-up sure fooled them" twit who was basically one horribly judged managerial decision (leaving Bordick in to bat in Game 3) from being ridiculed as his team was swept aside. Looky, Benitez got a save! And he didn't even have to hit anyone in the back to do it. What a guy. At least Roger missed with the broken bat. And don't even pull that doing-it-for-the-dad shit on us, our guys had more dead dads last year than yours do. Like everything else, we did that one first and left you the sloppy seconds.

I rooted for the Yankees when I worked in publishing and made 20 grand a year, now I'm one of Giuffo's "dot-com bobo rubes" who helps to give flippant rantings such as his a broader audience. Maybe I should have traded in my Masons badge for golf club membership. Fuck you, Giuffo, I still root for the Yankees. Have you ever been to the John Franco batting cages in Brooklyn? I have. They suck. Maybe you're sad because our superstar Jeter has outplayed your icon Piazza so much so that the dick-choking to which you earlier referred sounds like so much penis-envy now. How pathetic it is you'll resort to playing the socioeconomic card about your new-merchandising-opportunity-black-jerseyed Mets. If you would sit in the House That $5.50 Beers Built you'd see, aside from the despicable suits, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, and for that matter, the Koreans who told you to shut the fuck up. In Shea, you all look kinda white to me. The emblems of hard work you venerate are all white. Piazza and Franco and Leiter. There's a cross-section of working class New York for you (sorry, Fonzie, didn't mean to offend, you're one hell of a ballplayer). Real champions of the underdogs, those pieces of a $90 million-plus payroll. I'd bet my hard-earned money right now Bob Sheppard would kick the shit out of you. Don't even try to backhandedly argue the Mets are the Dodgers reincarnate -- they're not. They're in Queens, for Chrissakes, and Zimmer is on our side now. Enough said.

Well, like a true Yankee fan, I sure have enjoyed listening to myself talk. I'm pretty damn proud of myself for never once having to mention the 25 world championships. Or should I just dot the i's and say 26, you bitchy little bitch?

-- Mark Chelius
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Lemme get this straight. The Yanks are fueled by cash and run by robber barons. And the Mets are a socialist kibbutz that millionaires Nelson Doubleday and Fred Wilpon run out in Queens? Right. The Mets are cooler than the Yankees? What is this, junior high school? Who cares what team Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins root for? Hell, they're rooting for Ralph Nader in his quest to make George W. Bush the next president. Bush, by the way, seems awfully buddy-buddy with Mets manager Bobby Valentine. Pretty cool, huh?

Every time the Mets lose, their fans trot out some tired moral superiority argument. Sounds like Jerry Falwell to me. The game is won on the field, John. I'm a Yankee fan who respects the Mets. Why? Last night's 3-6-1 double play is one reason: They come to play. Too bad for you that they keep losing.

-- Rodd McLeod

I've decided the Yankees are the Republicans and the Mets are the Democrats. The Yankees have more money than any other team, the Yankees play dirty (e.g., Clemens' throwing of the bat shard), and I'm pretty sure Steinbrenner is a huge GOP fundraiser. Pataki and Giuliani endorse the Yankees, and both the Mets and the Democrats (from the Kennedy era onward) are eternal underdogs.

Watching the Yankees' overwhelming talent and money defeat the Mets gives me a new, personal level of insight into why smaller countries hate America so much and refer to us as "Yankees" and find us so arrogant.

-- Brett Forman

Bravo John Giuffo! He's right about the comparative moral value of the two teams, and his tone is thoroughly appropriate to the subject ("Satan's little butterball" -- gotta love that), but I have to say that he didn't go far enough in delineating just what is so very loathsome about the current Yankee franchise and their success-junkie fans.

Mets fans sneer that the Yankees are "the best team money can buy." But Yankee fans of my acquaintance accept that denigration calmly. They don't even bother to make the thoroughly plausible counter-argument that, through hard work and determination, these pinstriped rich kids have become something more than an agglomeration of superstars and even shown signs of what we used to call "team spirit."

Their fans don't bring that up because they don't care, because to them what matters is that the YANKS ARE NUMBER ONE! Yankees fans are Yankee fans not because the team has any character to go along with their power (like the fractious Billy Martin/Reggie Jackson Yankees), but merely because they are powerful. They're on top, and they're gonna stay that way, baby.

When I was a boy, the '69 Miracle Mets were loved because they had battled adversity -- till the year before they won the Series, they'd never even had a winning season. When I was a young man, the '86 Mets were loved, not because they had the best record in baseball, but because in the playoffs they were always on the verge of losing it all, and always battled back on the strength of unlikely heroes like Wally Backman and Tim Teufel.

New Yorkers used to love underdogs. What happened? My guess is, part of it is the steroidization of everything -- the stock market, technology, entertainment, ballplayers, everything. And part of it is the fact that New York is now a transient town -- people don't live whole lifetimes here as they once did, and so new arrivals strongly affect the tone. Understandably, the most impoverished immigrants need some attachment to power to keep their sanity, and the Yanks offer easy access to that. But New York has another immigrant group that arguably has a stronger effect on the city's culture: college kids and go-getter professionals, the folks who wouldn't have moved to New York if it hadn't been sanitized in recent years to increasingly resemble Nutley, N.J., with bigger buildings and better nightlife. The experiences and ethos of these people are largely suburban -- and we know how dreamers, madcaps and underdogs fare in suburbia.

The Poor Little Match Girl, the Crippled Little Newsie and the Amazin' Mets were once figures of our folklore -- now, they're just LOOOOOOsers. Let Giuliani sweep them off the streets, the new New York howls, and let the Yanks sweep those pathetic Mets out of the Series.

Rooting for the Mets is a way of saying no to all that. It's a way of saying that come-from-behind is noble, and we-rule is not noble. In fact, it says there is such a thing as nobility. As an old Met (and Yankee) once said, you could look it up.

-- Roy Edroso

Thank you for clarifying the difference between the two World Series teams. I'm not a New Yorker, and various friends have been trying to convince me which team is the "right" team. Knowing that my beloved Jon Stewart pulls for the Mets, I clearly have no choice but to join him.

However, I have lived in Chicago for 15 years and I can assure you wholeheartedly that Cubs fans are not the coolest people in the world. They're drunk, barfy, loud, rude, don't watch the game and don't give a shit if their team wins or loses. Every newcomer to this fine city wants nothing more than to skip work and get wasted at Wrigley.

Cubs = Yankees, just with a different win-loss record. If you want to pull for a gritty team, take up the poor neglected White Sox -- in spite of Reinsdorf.

-- Nora Mavrelis

I loved your article and agree with you completely. I wish the Mets would win, I have had enough of the Yankees. If someone gave me $130 million, I could have a winning club as well. They should just give them the trophy and put the rest of us out of our misery. I do have to say the guy in charge of tickets at Shea is an idiot, they put the tickets on sale over the phone and Mets fans could not get through. They should remember who came to the games all year. The next time they complain that there were all Yankee fans there, they should blame the guys who work for them.

-- Leah Levit

During the off-season, for reasons still unknown, government computers deep inside an unnamed mountain mixed together the rosters of every Major League Baseball team and redistributed them in a completely random assortment of rookies and veterans, sluggers and bunters, speed merchants and barges, heroes and goats, the humble and the arrogant, those with sideburns and those without, cancer survivors and lifelong paragons of health, teetotalers and methamphetamine addicts, urbanites and rednecks, Ivy Leaguers and troglodytes, dedicated husbands and prolific chasers of skirt.

So complete was this reshuffling, each team retained only two recognizable features from the previous season: a large stadium and a collection of massive salaries.

Nevertheless, it is being reported that after an initial period of confusion, fans have warmly embraced their newly stocked teams, and ancient hatreds of other ball clubs are stirring once again.

-- Anthony Jaffe

By Salon Staff

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