The Agony of Sports: Rooting for New York’s B-Teams

 It was October 27, 2015, and my favorite team, the New York Mets, were playing in Game 1 of the World Series. I was beaming with excitement as I walked around campus that brisk fall day, wearing my Mets hat and David Wright jersey. As I passed other Mets fans throughout the day, we couldn’t help but smile, give each other a nod and yell, “Let’s go!” to express our excitement. We were lost in the moment, nervously optimistic about what might unfold over the next week. We were so close, and we could taste it. We were naive. 

That night, Jeurys Familia, the Mets pitcher who had emerged as one of the most automatic closers in baseball that year, proceeded to blow a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the ninth inning. The Mets lost that game 5-4 in 14 innings, and went on to lose the series in five games.  

I should have known. And looking back on that first day, I think part of me did know. This is what my teams do. This is my lot in life as a Mets, Jets and Nets fan. I made my bed when I decided to root for New York’s “B” teams as a child. I’ve been lying in it ever since. 

For those unfamiliar with this story, let me fill you in. Muddled in mediocrity for years at a time, my teams occasionally rise to the cream of the crop. These moments are fleeting, and few and far between: the Mets in 2015, the Jets in 2009-2010 and the Nets in 2002-2003, to name a few. They ascend to the precipice of the mountain top, only to find the most agonizing ways to fall short and come crashing back down to earth. Here they remain for the next handful of years, assuming their rightful place in the world as New York’s second-class franchises. 

In competition, the Mets, Jets and Nets have an inherent knack for finding incredible ways to lose. From the infamous “Butt Fumble” to the first-half no-show in the 2009 AFC Championship game against Pittsburgh, to Timo Perez taking his sweet time on the bases in the 2000 World Series (Oh, Timo). And what Mets fan can forget about Endy Chavez’s over-the-wall catch that made us all feel that, if destiny was a thing, it was on the Mets’ side that night? Well, it wasn’t – they lost that game, too. 

My teams do have championship titles to their names. The 1969 “Miracle Mets” and the 1986 “Bad Boy” Mets got the job done. Broadway Joe called his shot in 1969 heading into Super Bowl III – and delivered. But in the modern era, all I have ever known is losing. My teams are perennial losers – and that can take a toll on a person. 

So why do I keep coming back, season after season after season, only to be inevitably let down? Maybe I’m curious to see the new ways they will find to lose games. Or maybe it’s just habit at this point. But part of me feels – or has to believe – that true fandom is earned, and the agony of rooting for these particular teams will culminate in something magical. One day each of my teams will rise to the summit, and when that day comes, it will become clear why I even cared to begin with. Until then, I will be watching, and I will be rooting. 

Contact Danielle Kliger at [email protected].