We are all born into this world with certain indisputable and uncontrollable characteristics: dad’s blue eyes, grandma’s fascination with guilt and Uncle Jerry’s inability to keep any semblance of hair from falling off the top of his head. It’s these workings that make us who we are and that ground us in the context of our family’s past.
I was born a Mets fan. A fate written, sealed and handed down to me by my mother-a Jew raised on rubber bouncy balls and fading cement stoops in Brooklyn. The life of a Mets fan is defined by pain, with excessive summer nights of darkness and the occasional glimmer of consciousness to keep your attention.
This past weekend was no different as Tom Glavine capped the September avalanche early in the first inning last Sunday. Glavine choked on irony and gave up in runs the same number of games by which we led the Phillies in the National League East just two weeks ago: seven. And as Jose Reyes put away his glove, Paul Lo Duca packed his Band-Aids and Carlos Beltran threw away his extra tampons, I began to think.
I thought of the little boy in Shea Stadium with a paper bag over his head, holes for eyes and ears cut with scissors, trying to hide from embarrassment. I thought of the record books and how yet again we would go down in history as failures. Yet, most of all I thought of our president and how similar being a Mets fan is to George W. Bush’s presidency.
The comparison is fair, considering Bush’s short-lived history with the game as partial owner of the Texas Rangers. Like all things Bush, it involved money changing hands under the table, eventual campaign contributions and, of course, Daddy’s friends in Texas. But what does this have to do with the Mets fan still lying in bed, sobbing under his Mr. Met blanket?
George Bush is the epitome of disaster, disappointment and frustration-attributes that fit like puzzle pieces in describing the life of a Mets fan. They both are incredibly difficult to watch. As Americans and Mets fans we cover our eyes and look through the crease between our fingers when he takes the podium or they take the field. We grind our teeth and wait until they inevitably trip over themselves in complete and utter failure. Zealously, they mangle words, groundballs, civil rights and at-bats. In everything they set out to do, be it to beat the Marlins at home or read a book to Ms. Johnson’s third-grade class, they travel towards inevitable destruction. They have rewritten the history books, both responsible for the greatest collapse in world and sports histories (except for that little four-game Sox comeback against the Yankees). Bush has seen to the demise of the once iconic status of America on the national stage, and the Mets have ushered in the destruction of their champion status atop the National League.
Yet for all the Mets’ flaws (as numerous as they may seem), we as fans were born to love them; we have no other choice. Bushies, however, do have a choice: They were not born with a foam hand that reads “Evildoer” along the outstretched pointer finger. And for us Mets fans, we will forever have that one celestial phrase of hope to curl our arms around in the bitter days of October: There’s always next year. For Bush, beautifully, that truth is about to run out. So keep your heads up Mets fans. We’re in this together.