He had never been jealous of me for a second. Now I knew that there never was and never could have been any rivalry between us. I was not of the same quality as he. I couldn’t stand this. … Holding firmly to the trunk, I took a step toward him, and then my knees bent and I jounced the limb. Finny, his balance gone, swung his head around to look at me for an instant with extreme interest, and then he tumbled sideways, broke through the little branches below and hit the bank with a sickening, unnatural thud. It was the first clumsy physical action I had ever seen him make. With unthinking sureness I moved out on the limb and jumped into the river, every trace of my fear of this forgotten.
—Excerpt from A Separate Peace, by John Knowles.
These occasions are a precious few, my fellow Yankees haters.
The Bombers are, well, being bombed by the Texas Rangers and now face elimination from the postseason by virtue of a 3-1 ALCS deficit. And what makes this especially sweet is the manner in which the Yanks have crashed and burned—or shall we say crashed and Burnetted after Tuesday night’s deflating defeat?
But as a fully indoctrinated self-loathing Mets fan and devout Yankees hater, I must offer this mea culpa: The Yankees’ impending defeat (famous last words) is bittersweet in a way you can’t fully understand unless you’ve consigned yourself to a lifetime of jealousy and bitterness (i.e. Mets fandom). Because, although I’m not shedding any tears for the suddenly bumbling Bombers, their sloppy play may well hasten their exit, and with it any especially strong rooting interest for me in these playoffs.
Which is to say, I need the Yankees to win so I can keep rooting against them, and frankly, that’s a sad indictment of what it means to be a Mets fan in 2010.
But here I am, and if I may appropriate a tried-and-true Sports Guy analogy, my rooting against these vile Yankees has become creepily similar to a dysfunctional relationship: I know it’s utterly unhealthy and unproductive, but I can’t walk away from it. I want nothing more than to see these Yanks flail—for their fans to be embarrassed the way I have been so frequently during the course of an average 162-game Mets season—and yet, when I imagine the emptiness and dissatisfaction I’ll feel should the Rangers put them out of their misery, I retreat. I bargain. I make up so that I can wallow in another day of poisonous vitriol.
I know. It’s twisted.
The missteps in this ALCS have been so bountiful that I’ve actually felt twinges of sympathy for the Yankees at times, a sure sign of the apocalypse. If you’re a Yankees fan, I know the last thing you want right now from the perverse logic of a Mets fan is sympathy, but here I am.
When the Bombers held a 3-2 lead briefly on Tuesday in Game 4, I had that creeping suspicion that it wasn’t going to last. I don’t know, maybe that’s on account of having endured one blown lead after another over the years with the Mets.
Sure enough, A.J. Burnett again reminded us of why he’s quickly become the Yanks’ Oliver Perez, coughing up a gopher ball to the pesky Bengie Molina. I swear, Molina is not a good player by any stretch of the imagination, but he somehow manages to convince people otherwise with well-timed hits. I assure you, good reader, those are the only hits Molina ever gets.
Joe Girardi, bless his heart, is looking quite the hapless hangdog these days. Recall, if you will, that Willie Randolph had that disposition frequently during his tenure with the Mets. Anyway, Girardi compounded the mistake of allowing Burnett to pitch the sixth inning by intentionally walking David Murphy in front of Molina. With Burnett’s penchant for implosion, it was a matter of playing with fire, and unfortunately for the Yanks and Girardi, they got burned.
Girardi, by the way, just looks tired. I know that he’s dealing with the pressures of working on the final year of his contract, not to mention his dad’s ever-looming illness, but the golden touch he had a year ago seems to have evaporated. The pie-chart guy for whom everything went so swimmingly en route to the 2009 World Series title seemingly outwitted himself on Tuesday night.
And then, the kicker: Mark Teixeira’s hamstring injury. Now, mind you, for all my Yankees hatred, I don’t root for anyone to get injured. There’s a fine line between passionate, healthy hatred and sadism, one that I’m proud to tell you that I respect.
That said, sometimes it’s your time, and sometimes it’s just not. So when Teixeira went down and the already bleak prospect of a Yankees series comeback became even unlikelier, I certainly didn’t mind. I mean, it’s just a hamstring strain, right? He’ll be back in prime shape for spring training!
The Yankees face elimination in Game 5 this afternoon. Shall I root for them to clean out their lockers today? Perhaps it would be more painful for their fans if the series were extended to a sixth game? Then again, there’s always Cliff Lee looming in a potential Game 7.