As a final indignity to a nightmare 2009 season, Met fans were given the no-win decision between the hated Phillies or the hated Yankees in the World Series. Someone had to win since the chances of the earth splitting open and both teams falling into the crevice were remote. Met fans had to state a preference, the sports fan equivalent of choosing between death by carrot peeler or Slap Chop. I “preferred” the Phillies (Slap Chop).
I got a lot of flak for that. My Yankee friends were incredulous and half-jokingly told me to move to Philly. For them, my hatred of their team had crossed into the irrational territory. I thought my thought process was rational.
True, I hate Yankees. But everyone hates the Yankees except Yankee fans; I’m not unique in that regard. It’s natural to have disdain and envy for a massive, ruthless, successful franchise especially one your team shares a city with. Yankee fans should be used to that by now.
But I also hate the Phillies as well. So more than anything, it came down to geography. If a team I hate is going to win a championship, I’d rather it be far away from my backyard and off my TV save for the occasional ESPN segment. The 48 hours following a Yankee World Series win are insufferable. The constant news segments with sloshed Yankee fans screaming at the camera, being woken up at 2am by honking horns and “FUCKIN’ YANKEEEEEEEEEES!”, the images and headlines plastered on every inch of the newspapers, special pullout sections, everyone wearing Yankee gear, bragging about how order has been restored to the universe and the goddamn parade. Right there, in your city, rubbing your face in it. It sucks. If someone had to win, might as well be the Phillies. At least they’d be leaving.
And if I had any lingering doubt about my miserable choice, the Yankees won and sure enough, 2 in the morning: HONK HONK! “FUCKIN’ YANKEEEEEEEEEES!”
Now due to the salary cap and resulting parity, the divide between the New York football teams isn’t Grand Canyon size like it is for the baseball teams. But one is there and the Giants occupy the alpha dog status while the Jets amid occasional bursts of competence have mostly provided a laugh track. The Jets are amusing, like a drunken Smithers dancing for Mr. Burns. The Giants rivals are the Cowboys and Eagles. The Jets are a non-entity who have never given Giant fans a reason to give a shit about them; much like how the Mets rarely give the Yankee fans reason to give a shit about them.
So I don’t hate the Jets, mainly because I never figured I would have to. Being a Met fan, I empathized with them for than anything else. It was a National Geographic study going to a Jet game with my friend (before Woody Johnson kicked his family and their three decades of attendance to the curb for a $1.8 billion cheese grater). The amount of palpable despair and frustration was very familiar to me, just with four times the amount of people and ten times the amount of alcohol.
So when this team did HBO Hard Knocks, bragged about a championship, talked smack and did everything except record a music video a la the ’86 Mets, I found it cute. I made diary entries about Rex Ryan’s proclamations like Ron Burgundy did about Veronica Corningstone’s desire to be an anchorwoman. Rex told a very funny joke today. The next team having a parade in my backyard would be the Jets?!?! Yeah right. Is this part of the Mayan 2012 apocalypse prediction?
But as the amount of Jets-related news and headlines grows by the day and the Giants sit home after their “outstanding” second straight choke job, the frightening realization hit me.
Wait, I have to take the Jets seriously now?!?!
Last year, with their backdoor entrance to the playoffs and beating paper tigers in the Bengals and Chargers to make the AFC Championship, I didn’t think the Jets had it in them. But this year’s team is really good. It is no fluke where they are right now. What they did in Foxboro, especially after tempting the football gods (who have tortured the Jets) by baiting the seemingly invincible Patriots in the press, was impressive. It was something a team on a special run does. There is no reason they can’t beat Pittsburgh and actually be in Dallas the first Sunday of February.
I have no idea how to feel about this. In the span of six months, the Jets have gone from amusing to irritating to a legitimate threat to the Giants assumed throne as top dog. I am actually contemplating a reality where the Jets are Super Bowl champions. Exciting, entertaining, talented champions. The constant news segments with sloshed Jet fans screaming at the camera, being woken up at 2am by honking horns and “J-E-T-S, JETS JETS JETS!!”, the images and headlines plastered on every inch of the newspapers, special pullout sections, everyone wearing Jet gear, cracking jokes about where Eli is playing golf and the goddamn parade. Right there, in my city, rubbing my face in it……my God.
Is there any chance the Jets could have the parade in Jersey?