I have been a Mets fan my entire life. I grew up in New York City, and was a freshman at Brooklyn Technical High School when they had their big win in 1986. Of course the team you root for is really all about who your parents root for (especially in New York), so growing up, I spent countless hours at Shea Stadium with my mom and stepfather. As a swingin’ single in my twenties, I would go to Shea every other weekend with my best friend, Sue. The “red” seats were $19.95 back then, and as long as we had draft beer and a loge-level sausage for dinner, we were all set. If it was a freebie night, even better.
More recently, I have edited a couple of Mets books for ABRAMS, and I’m extremely excited for our upcoming Mets 50th anniversary book, which I’m putting together with the New York Daily News to pub for fall 2011.
Although the Mets will always be number one in my eyes (if not in the standings), lately a curiosity about the other side has been tugging at me. It’s not so much the Yankees I’ve been interested in – it’s JETER. Almost like a saint, or Obama, or Madonna, a mention of his name brings sighs of appreciation from so many different people. My boss, Leslie Stoker, speaks so lovingly of Jeter that you would think he’s her second son (or second husband). During a recent meeting we had with Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, he praised Jeter as an incredible player, teammate, and humanitarian. Even the New York Times can’t mask the Jeter-love when publishing articles about him. Speaking of which, at ABRAMS we just published Derek Jeter: From the Pages of the New York Times, which features Jeter’s smiling, golden face looking out from the front cover. The publication of that book was the final straw—I decided I had to make a trip to Yankee Stadium to see what all the fuss was about.
Despite being a life-long New Yorker, I have never been to Yankee Stadium (old or new) and I decided to make the trek with my stepfather, an avid baseball fan. (Marc is one of those people who keeps score on a scorecard at every single game he attends—even minor league games—and then he refers to them later.) I have to say that while Citi Field remains my number one baseball destination (not only because of the Mets but because of Shake Shack! Shake Shack! Shake Shack!), I did get a positive feeling from Yankee Stadium. The people seemed nice, and after I settled down with my $9.00 Nathan’s hot dog, I chatted with some of the fans around me. They were all so happy! Gone was the low-grade depression and resignation you sometimes see and feel when watching the Mets. I asked a Jeter jersey-wearing kid in front of me why he loves Jeter so much, and he said “Because he’s the best player on the best baseball team!” Hard to argue with that kind of logic.
It’s not difficult to see how you can get caught up in the Jeter magic. When he came out for his first at-bat, the crowd went absolutely nuts. And while he didn’t set the world on fire during this game (probably because of a recent injury), he played solidly, hitting a single and making a couple of very good defensive plays. (My BFF Cano also played very well.) This particular game was really suspenseful; the Yankees were losing for most of the game until suddenly they weren’t. They ended up beating the Orioles in ten innings, and I’ve never seen this many excited, jumping Jeter-ites at one time. Am I now a die-hard Yankees/Jeter fan? Not at all. I must stick with my lovable-loser Mets and continue to hope that next year will be their year. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter which team you root for – it’s really about the happiness and camaraderie you feel with your fellow fans when your team does well (or tries their best). After all, ya gotta believe.
If you would like to read more about the Mets and the Yankees, check out 101 Reasons to Love the Mets, 101 Reasons to Love the Yankees, Yankee Colors, Remembering Yankee Stadium, Yankees 365, and of course, Jeter.