And I knew even going into it that it was just a fling.
A flirtation, really.
But it felt wrong anyway.
Every time I put on that Colorado Rockies cap, it felt just like the betrayal that I knew deep down it was.
I know it is never acceptable to use the excuse, "Well, everyone else is doing it," but I’d like to mention that my usually Mets-faithful husband was involved in his own post-season dalliance with the Boston Red Sox. Unlike me, however, he seemed to suffer no self-condemnation because of it, claiming that (1) he has always like the BoSox, (2) his late mother was a big fan of the team, and (3) as a big-time Yankee-hater, cheering on the Red Sox–especially with the Mets out of contention–is his patriotic duty.
But back to my own transgressions.
The strange thing is, I had actually assumed I would have no interest in post-season baseball.
What I found, though, was that with the miserable and seemingly sudden way that the Mets’ season ended, watching post-season baseball filled a void.
What started as an antidote to the bad taste the Mets had left in my mouth at the end of their fatal season, however, did not come without an unpredictable consequence: I found myself unable to watch baseball–even without the Mets involved–dispassionately.
I guess I should have realized that it would be impossible to remain a respectful distance and "just be friends" with the Rockies.
I tried to justify my indiscretion by telling myself such things as, "Well, the Mets are out of it anyway," and "I’m just rooting for the National League team in the World Series."
I tried to assuage my guilt over my philandering by telling myself that it was like rooting for a "home team" of sorts since one of the Rockies’ farm teams–the AA Tulsa Drillers–play 70 miles from my hometown.
Having been aware of the tragedy that befell the Drillers’ this season followed by the chivalrous act of the Rockies players voting playoff shares to the Coolbaugh family, plus seeing the image of Mike Coolbaugh’s young sons throwing out the first pitch for Game 3 of the NLDS at Coors Field, my post-season love-in with the Rockies didn’t seem nearly so reprehensible.
Not only did this team have this sympathetic secondary story, but the fans were so into it. Here you were, smack dab in the heart of football country in the middle of football season, and these folks had baseball fever! They even went as far as filing applications to the U.S. Patent and Trade Office for exclusive rights to trademark the expression "Rocktober."
Not only was I impressed with the fans’ tremendous support for their team and excitement for its surprise playoff run, but I became increasingly irritated the more I read online and in papers and heard on television about how this World Series’ television ratings would be, in so many sportscasters’ and sportswriters’ opinions–if it ended up being a match between the two Midwest teams of Cleveland and Denver–even lower than last year’s ratings (which, I guess, set some all-time low.)
In other words, "Could some East or West Coast team please get into the World Series so that there could be a modicum of interest in signing on advertisers?" God, I hate when television and advertising runs sports…which is like, all the time, I know. I don’t try to to kid myself. It’s just that it is more obvious at some times than at others. But I digress…
So, there was this coming-together-after-tragedy feel-good subplot going on, the Midwestern fans not expecting a post-season and terribly excited about having one for the very first time ever and big, bad Fox Sports hoping not to have to broadcast from Middle America. I should’ve realized at this point that the situation was setting the stage for my complete loss of self-control.
I found myself getting more and more involved. I was thinking about my crush constantly. I spent hours reading about the Rockies on the Internet. I replaced desktop space on my computer formerly occupied by Mets players with an image of–yes, I confess–Matt Holliday. I even pulled out my old John Denver records, singing along to the strains of "Rocky Mountain High".
The team itself couldn’t have been more attractive to any dejected baseball fan with a wandering eye: young, hungry, excited. These guys were on a roll, and there was no stopping them. Rather than seeming to pose an obstacle, their lack of post-season experience appeared more a reflection of the team’s youthful naivete and exuberance.
Admittedly, watching these young, limber players was something of a cheap thrill, but after an entire season of hearing about and witnessing all of the various middle-aged Mets players’ maladies keeping them on the DL and from doing their best playing all season, can you blame a gal for looking?!
Okay, I admit it: I was playing around with a younger team.
I definitely knew the flirtation had escalated to something more along the lines of an affair when I ordered Rockies caps for myself and my daughter on MLB.com. Now, don’t judge my daughter harshly on this one. She is innocent.
First of all, she’s all of ten years old. Secondly, she did not become nearly as wrapped up in all of this as I did. And, thirdly purple happens to be her favorite color; I think that’s the primary reason she donned this cap, actually.
I wore the cap to work during the NLCS and the World Series, and my colleagues–knowing me to be the die-hard Mets fan that I am–looked at me incredulously. I sheepishly offered that I was just wearing the cap during the post season, but the looks on their faces said it all.
Even before the end of the baseball season, true remorse had set in.
Having a team to root for in the post season is sort of like having a date for the prom, I guess: it’s the big event at the end of the year, and you really don’t want to miss it. But if you can’t go with your sweetheart, you might as well stay at home. It’s just not the same going with your brother’s best friend, no matter how much you tell yourself that it will be all right.
I should’ve sat this one out.
Having a team to root for in the post season–even a young, promising, hungry team–was not worth the life of lies and deception I had been living. And that would’ve been true no matter the outcome of the Series. Honestly.
So, as many major league players–and their agents–are wondering at this time of year which team’s cap they will don in Spring Training, let this serve as my confession and announcement that I will, from here on out, remain forever faithful to the Mets. I know that that may make for some very lonely Octobers with no "dates" for the World Series or even the post season. But since I’m in this relationship for the long haul, I’m prepared to live with that, and my eyes will not wander again. I promise.
If somebody exciting, new, and hot comes along and tries to "sweep" me off my feet again–even with something as sexy as twenty wins in a row–I’ll know just what to say,
"No thanks. I’m taken: by the New York Mets!"