Major League Baseball’s 111th World Series is set to start soon, with the blue-and-orange New York Mets taking on the blue-and-white Kansas City Royals. It’s the Royals’ second consecutive trip to the World Series (which they lost to the San Francisco Giants), so naturally I have to root for them because it was so sad to see them lose last year. I think it’s my first time picking an American League team since the Minnesota Twins went to the “big dance” in 1991 (and won it by beating the Atlanta Braves). I was a huge Kirby Puckett fan, and seeing him do so well in the World Series was one of the highlights of my baseball fan-hood. This year I’m a big fan of… let’s see… no one really; but I have to root for the Royals because I just can’t get myself to cheer for the other team.
What’s wrong with the Mets? Don’t they have a Gold Glove-winning outfielder in Juan Lagares (who stole the award from the Nationals’ Denard Span in 2014)? How about that guy Yoenis Céspedes (who killed the Nationals in the last regular-season series they played against each other)? And don’t they have that good relief pitcher, Tyler Clippard (former National)? Yeah – I’m a little bitter about the Mets making it this far while the Nationals didn’t even clinch a Wild Card spot in the playoffs. Still licking my wounds a little bit.
The funny thing is that I used to be a die-hard Mets fan in the late 80s. I can still recite their regular lineup (Dykstra, Teufel, Hernandez/Magadan, Strawberry, McReynolds, HoJo, Carter, and Elster – and I swear I didn’t get Google’s help!), and I remember their starting pitchers in 1989 being Ron Darling, Dwight Gooden, Sid Fernandez, David Cone, and Bob Ojeda (I believe Frank Viola came in halfway through the season). I had the shirts, pennants, yearbooks, and even got a media guide from them after having sent them some sort of fan mail. Darling and Elster were the cute ones, and the Mets still have the biggest section in my baseball card collection.
But alas, the Washington Nationals came to town in 2005, and I had to jump on the bandwagon. I had not been able to embrace the Baltimore Orioles in the few years I had lived in Maryland, mainly because they were an American League team and because my first husband was not supportive of my baseball habit (lesson learned: Don’t marry someone who doesn’t share your hobbies!). After our separation in 2005, I decided to embrace the new team in town and have not looked back as a Nationals fan since.
Part of being a loyal fan is sticking by your team regardless of how well or how sucky they play (spell check says “sucky” isn’t a word, but I’m using it!). And believe me – those first few seasons as a Nationals fan were pretty brutal. Before the days of Strasburg and Harper, the team played in a crappy stadium, struggled to build their fan base, and went through several managers and staff changes. And while they’ve come a long way in just ten years, some people think they haven’t lived up to the hype and the high payroll. Yes, it would have been nice if the Nationals had made it this far (the red and white would have complimented the Royals’ colors nicely) – but I have not had a problem going to bed at my usual 10:00 time during a playoff game’s 6th or 7th inning. If the Nationals had made the playoffs, I would have been sleep-deprived, stressed out, and impossible to live with (and that’s not my husband or kids talking – I think I know myself pretty well!).
So for all you fans of the other 28 teams that did not make it to the World Series: Enjoy some good baseball, have fun checking out the cute players (Eric Hosmer for the Royals and Matt Harvey for the Mets), and feel free to go to bed before a game is over (unless it’s game seven or any other deciding game). I predict that the Royals will win in six games (so they can win at home, which is always nice), but if the Mets end up winning, I will just shrug and wait for Bryce Harper to be announced as the NL MVP in November without having lost much sleep. See how easy and laid-back it is when you don’t have anything vested in either of the two teams? Let’s hope for some good clean baseball and let’s go Royals (I guess)!