My dad always says that his biggest regret as a parent is that he raised his kids to be Mets and Jets fans.
And on the surface, yes, it really does seem like he dropped the proverbial parenting ball on that one. It's very hard not to question the decision to willingly raise and encourage your children to be fans of teams that consistently make them want to gauge their eyes out with a spork.
It's a strange misstep for him -- on all other fatherly duties, he totally knocks it out of the park. His music taste? Impeccable. He essentially made sure my brother and I memorized the entire Beatles catalogue before we even knew the alphabet. He taught us to be kind and caring and compassionate and open-minded and all those things that are really important but actually seem to be the least important things on the planet when you're watching Mark Sanchez throw interception No. 742,358,921 and Luis-freaking-Castillo drop a pop up that I could have caught as a 7-year old on my Little League team with my eyes closed.
It's undeniable: Being a fan of the Mets and Jets should be a terrible, miserable, depressing, fun-sucking act of despair.
So then it must be a testament to that guy who raised me that somehow, because I watch those terrible, miserable, depressing, games with him, they actually become anything but terrible, miserable and depressing. You have to have a certain kind of personality to be able to root for such bad teams for such a long period of time, besides just masochistic. When I was in second grade, I deemed my dad "The King Of Funny." He's held on to that title despite -- and I think in large part because of -- all the unfunny things the Mets and Jets have thrown his way over the years.
He's able to translate the sports misery into comedy, and so he’s turned this whole tortured sports fan thing for my brother and I into a tolerable, hilarious experience.
(Which, I guess is really his responsibility anyway since he got us into this Jets-Mets mess in the first place).
I do sometimes wonder what it would be like if I was raised a Yankees fan instead.
And while I have no concrete proof of the following because I’ve never rooted for a successful team in my entire existence, I truly do believe that rooting for good teams would actually be a lot less fun. I mean, it would be fun in the traditional meaning of the word "fun," in that you get to celebrate and be happy and you're not trying to consistently impale yourself with a spork. But if the Mets won every year, would I receive emails like this from my dad?
Me: Can you update me on the Mets score?
Dad: METS UPDATE -- Mike Pelfrey is licking his hand.
(Two minutes later)
Dad: METS UPDATE PART 2 --Mike Pelfrey is still licking his hand.
Or texts like this?
Me: "….WHAT?? WHAT WAS THAT?!?!?"
Dad: Man, he was tokin' on some serious wacky weed during that play."
If we rooted for teams that were good, that took up all our time with winning streaks and perfect games, would we still have bizzarely screeched the Batman theme song in a high-pitched Scuttle The Seagull-esque voice every time Robin Ventura came up to bat in the late '90s? Would we still have made up our own cheers during games that were hilarious to no one else besides us, like replacing the word charge with frogs for no discernible reason whatsoever and laughing our heads off like it was the funniest thing anyone had ever done?
We undoubtedly would have found other things to crack ourselves up over if we were Yankees fans, because when you put my dad and I together, we always end up laughing. But when you're a fan of bad teams, you're in a little bit more of a dire need of something to smile about. And so, we find every excuse to laugh together, and those small, insignificant moments have become memories and jokes between the two of us that I wouldn't trade for anything -- not even a winning season.
And sometimes, every once in a long while, the Jets and the Mets will surprise you, and for a few minutes, all that suffering seems to pay off. Like when I got to watch my dad experience his first no-hitter in Mets history last year. And when the Jets made it to the AFC championship game by beating the Patriots and I called my dad from college and screamed my lungs off straight into the phone for a solid half hour, probably seriously rupturing his eardrum in the process.
Moments like that are what makes all the miserable parts of being a fan worthwhile. Knowing that one day, just maybe, one of these hapless teams will turn it around and win a championship, and I’ll be able to celebrate it with the one person who’s continued to make me laugh and enjoy these games more than any team or player could ever do.
Until then, Dad, there's no one I'd rather laugh the misery away with.
P.S. Thanks for never letting me actually spork my eyes out. Happy Father's Day.