For a blowout game that meant nothing in the standings, Saturday night’s game at RFK Stadium had New York Mets fans in an uproar.
Mets fans, some of whom were GW students, came out by the thousands to cheer on their team, which has the best record in baseball, and they had a lot to cheer about during their team’s 13-0 victory over the Washington Nationals. Chants of “Let’s Go Mets!” were only weakly challenged by boo’s before Nationals fans succumbed.
Sophomore Greg Rosen, a lifelong Mets fan from Wantagh, N.Y., attended the game with fellow sophomore and fan Danielle Montag. The two met last year at a Nationals/Rockies game, which they went to with a mutual friend.
Rosen was decked out in blue and orange Mets attire, wearing a hat and shirt with the team’s logo. Rosen was eager to talk about the team, but did not let his commentary get in the way of his cheering.
In the middle of a stream of thought, Rosen stood up and screamed.
“Julio Franco is my God!” Rosen said after the 48-year old first basemen hit an RBI single. Seconds later, after hearing that pitcher Pedro Martinez may miss eight months of action after rotator cuff surgery, Rosen collapsed back into his chair, put his hand on his forehead and screamed “Oh, my God!” To their fans, Mets games, however meaningless, are religious experiences.
Since their inception in 1962, the Mets have had to fight for space in the hearts of New Yorkers, whose loyaltyies already lay with the dominant Yankees. While the Yankees constantly won, the Mets’ success came in short spurts. As a result – Mets fans hypothesize – Yankees fans think that their team will win and they deserve to win.
“Yankees fans feel like the world owes them something because of their grace and beauty,” Rosen said. “Their sense of entitlement is incredible.”
Historically, Mets teams have consisted of grind-it-out, blue-collar ballplayers who appeal to many in the Queens community where Shea Stadium is located. This Mets team is likeable for a different reason: they enjoy playing baseball, and it shows.
“It’s not even the fact that they’re good that makes this team special,” Montag said. “I think it’s their personalities. They have so much energy – if you look at (third basemen) David Wright and (shortstop) Jose Reyes, they’re always smiling and seem really personable.”
Mets fans are not always so jovial. At the game, one heavily-accented fan dressed head to toe in Mets merchandise got into an only half-playful argument with a pre-teenage boy in the concourse over whose team was better, which ended with the man saying matter-of -factly, “That’s why we’re winning … and you’re losing.”
Mets fans had a reason to celebrate recently when the Mets won their division for the first time since 1988. As soon as the last out was recorded in the division-clinching win, Mets fans spilled into GW’s streets to celebrate.
“After they clinched the NL East, we had all our Mets paraphernalia on and random people on the street would be giving you high fives,” Rosen said. “It was so energetic. The amount of support you see in D.C. is incredible.”
With success comes the inevitable groundswell of fair-weather fans wearing their Mets hat for the first time in years. Sophomore Jason Lewis, who attended the game with his girlfriend, University of Maryland sophomore Marla Weintraub, said that he has seen far more Mets “fans” in D.C. recently than he has in the past.
“A lot of Yankee fans are front-runners, but now that the Mets are good we have a lot of them too,” Lewis said. “I’ve been walking on campus and seeing Mets hat popping up everywhere.”
Mets fans in the District are not hard to find. The Nationals, who have compiled two seemingly mediocre seasons, haven’t shored up a significant fan base.
With the playoffs coming up, many Mets fans cannot help but look towards the World Series, and a potential Subway Series match-up against the Yankees, who have the second-best record in baseball. After losing in the first Subway Series in 2000, another loss would be devastating to Mets Nation.
“We realize the consequence of losing to the Yankees,” Rosen said. “If a Subway Series happens and the Yankees win, it will be a huge heartbreak. But I don’t think they’ll lose.”