By Mike Steffanos
A lot has been made, given the respective fates of the Mets and the Yankees this past Saturday, over which team now owns New York. One side will tell you that the Mets have taken over by outlasting the Yankees in the post-season. The other side insists that the Yankees regain their hold on the Big Apple by dominating the back pages with speculation over the fate of Joe Torre and Alex Rodriguez. To me, the whole issue is irrelevant -- I'm a Mets fan, always have been, always will be. What do I care whose bandwagon the indifferent masses are jumping on? If you want to put A-Rod on the back page, knock yourself out. If WFAN wants to spend more time on the Yankees' soap opera than the Mets story, so be it. There isn't much of value that comes over those airwaves, anyway. For myself, and those of you reading these words, this has always been our town. Sometimes the rest of New York realizes it, sometimes they don't.
I know that many, if not most, of my readers have more hard feelings toward the Yankees and their fans than I do, and I'm not going to try to talk you out of anything. Many of you spend much more time among them than I do. To me, I've had too many years of the level of debate that runs along the lines of, "your team sucks." "No, your team sucks." "No, your team sucks." It just gives me a headache. Frankly, it doesn't matter all that much to me what Yankee fans, or the vast majority of trend-jumping casual fans feel about my team. I guess there was a time that I did, but one of the few benefits of getting older is getting some perspective on what's important and what's not.
Don't get me wrong here. I do appreciate the irony of the situation. I remember when the Mets first signed Willie Randolph to be manager back when I still listened to Mike and the Mad Dog every day. Mike Francesa repeated a joke that Billy Crystal made at some Yankees fan function to the effect that Willie leaving the Yankees for the Mets was like going to bed with Pamela Anderson and waking up with Louis Anderson. Francesa thought the line was so witty he must have brought it up about a dozen times. Maybe that's why it popped into my mind Saturday night that Louis was looking pretty damned good all of a sudden. I'm not above feeling a little sense of revenge.
For most of the local media, it will continue to be about the Yankees, and that's honestly fine with me. We Mets fans have had it jammed down our throats for so long that our team isn't the Yankees, I can't help but find it insincere and even hypocritical when one of the local columnists sings the praises of the Mets -- especially the ones who have had their nose buried so deeply into Yankees posteriors for so long. It's not as if you receive any more wins when you earn the dubious love of the pundits -- if you don't believe that, ask the Dodgers.
The bottom line is that I don't waste much of my time being hung up on the Yankees, and frankly, that's something I'm proud of. It wasn't always this way, I remember back in my twenties I had much more loathing for that corporation in the Bronx. A funny memory, although it didn't seem quite as hilarious at the time, was the somewhat clueless girlfriend that gave me a t-shirt as a gift to honor my fondness for a team that played baseball in New York. Unfortunately, she had purchased a navy blue shirt with the white Yankees NY logo on it. I freely admit that I was rather outraged at first, but I was smart enough to appreciate the thought behind the gift and realize that she meant well. Patiently, I explained the difference between the Yankees and the Mets. Her take was that, since the Yankees were better at that time, I should switch my allegiance and keep the shirt. I just smiled, decided to be an adult and let the thing go, not arguing with her any further. I was proud of my new-found maturity. Later on to celebrate, I ate her liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.
This maturity level has only grown over the years, to the point which you don't find me gloating about the Yankees in this space. I'm just as happy to let all of the silly controversies pass me by. Next spring, if the Yankees closer wants to come into games playing the music that Billy Wagner has been using for much longer than he has, so be it. Live and let live, that's my motto.
Faith and Fear in Flushing: More Mets and Yankees
I enjoyed Greg's thoughtful piece from yesterday on the whole Mets fan/Yankees fan thing.
New York Times: Oliver Perez
If you missed it yesterday, I thought Murray Chass' story on Perez was terrific in both informing us on the kid himself and the manner in which Rick Peterson works with pitchers.