I have invited one of my co-workers, Peter Allen, to write a piece on the New York Mets. We share many of the same opinions when it comes to issues involving the Mets and the antics of the Yankees.
Many people think of the Yankees as New York’s baseball team. After all, the Yankees are known worldwide, and their logo can be seen on shirts and hats wherever you go, from South Africa to Siberia. Most of these people in other countries don’t know who the Yankees really are, but wear the logo anyway because of the universal symbol of status that it represents. When people anywhere think of New York baseball, they think of the Yankees. The Mets are a mere afterthought. The Mets, however, should not be considered the “little brother” or “alternative” New York baseball team to the Yankees. The Mets are different, unique and in many ways embody more of a New York spirit than the Yankees do, and I believe represent the city more deeply.
Many people assume that the Yankees have been around forever and have always been New York’s primary baseball team. Although the Yankees did start playing in New York in 1903, they were not the city’s first team. When they arrived on the scene, the Brooklyn Dodgers (established in 1883) and New York Giants (established in 1885) had been around for years and were the two main baseball teams in the city at the time. They were far more popular than the Yankees, who were considered the newcomers in town. However, in 1957, The Dodgers and Giants left New York for California, leaving the Yankees as New York’s only baseball team. As a result, the New York Metropolitans (Mets) were created 5 years later in 1962 to take the place of the Dodgers and Giants, and quickly became the quirky team from Queens. They adopted the colors of their predecessors; the blue from the Dodgers and the orange from the Giants. Many of the old-time Dodgers and Giants fans quickly adopted the Mets as their new team. While everyone thinks of the Yankees as timeless and synonymous with “New York”, it is really the Mets who harbor the history of a previous century of the city in their blue and orange veins.
It is not just history that supports the Mets as a more “New York” team than the Yankees. The Mets also embody more of the spirit of the city than their cross-town rivals, which is evident today if you attend games for each team. It is no secret that the Yankees spend ridiculous amounts of money to purchase the contracts of as many of the best players that they can buy. In 2008, they Yankees spent over $209 million on their players, while the Florida Marlins spent $21 million, about one tenth of what the Yankees spent. In fact, A-Rod, the Yankees third baseman was paid $25 million that year, more than all the players on the Marlins combined. As a result, year after year, the Yankees are expected to win, if for anything through the sheer ability to buy the best players. This type of team draws a particular type of fan, one who cares more about winning at any cost than for the game itself. It is no surprise then, that at a Yankees game, you will find yourself sitting in a sterile environment next to someone working in the financial industry, whose pricey tickets were purchased by their company. Chances are, they aren’t even from New York.
The Mets, who are known for being the “lovable losers” draw a different sort of crowd. When you’re at a Mets game, you’re more likely to sit next to someone with an accent. The atmosphere is edgier and yet more laid back than the stuffy confines of Yankee stadium. While the Yankees are known for their “rich history,” of 27 World Series championships, the highlights of the Mets’ history is different. In addition to winning the 1969 and 1986 World Series, Mets fans will recall the fan who parachuted into Shea stadium in 1986 and was subsequently arrested or the players’ “encounters” with female fans during games. If watching at home, perhaps you’ll catch the Mets announce Keith Hernandez falling asleep during games. It is this environment that embodies the boldness and uniqueness that Makes New York, New York.