This isn't the first time I've been an outsider. I spent about half of my life (I'm pushing 30 now, and I was an odd duck for about the first 15 years) as more of a social observer than interactor. So maybe I'm suited to be a fan of the Mets and Jets. Occasionally, I'm invited to the party - make an appearance, have a little fun, go home early. (Jets - 1991, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006; Mets - 1988, 1999, 2000, 2006). Once in a while, I'm the hit of the party - 1986 - but that's when I was 8, and my cute kid-ness covered up the other inadequacies.
Anyway, a look at the past couple of years, playoff-wise, shows that once again, I'm on the outside looking in, while all of the people around me are having a blast:
The toughest part is living in New England, where the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots have had tremendous success, just about from the time when I moved up here until this day. (Really - starting with the Patriots making the Super Bowl in 1996, then lots of Red Sox playoff appearances, then both teams winning multiple championships.) It's bad enough the Jets and Patriots play in the same division - but seeing all of this success right in my own backyard, while I'm always left out - it's rough. The equivalent of this is you make a friend at school, bring him/her home to your neighborhood, and the popular kid next door, who doesn't go to your school, steals your friend and they have a bunch of fun together, and all of a sudden you're a third wheel.
Then there's the other options. I could have been a Yankees fan...or a Giants fan. And then I would be happy - celebrating recent championships or championship game appearances (Giants - 3 Super Bowl appearances in my lifetime [2 wins], Jets - 0...and we all know about Yankees vs. Mets), instead of watching smarter team-pickers than I having more success than me. This group ranges from acquaintances to close friends to members of my own family. So that's just a constant reminder of bad choices...but, in the end, appropriate ones.
Of course, we all know about my second choice. The Packers are a team I've always rooted for when my real team fades. During the 1990's, it was the Packers who were making playoff appearances year after year, while the Jets were going 4-12, 3-13, 1-15, etc. But, they're a second choice - they're not my team. Plus, they weren't even tremendously successful...one championship, one other Super Bowl appearance. I guess that's the friend you kind of have fun with, but you don't see very often, and maybe they don't even consider you a friend. You're like a hanger-on.
Then there's the rivals. The Patriots we've already commented on....but for years the teams the Mets couldn't beat were the ones who stood in their way - the Atlanta Braves for many years, and the Philadelphia Phillies this past, horrid, horrible year. And that's watching the kid you hate, the bully, having fun, getting all the rewards, being Mr. Popular, even though he's a jerk.
And, finally, there's the new blood. I'm sitting here, nearly 30 years old, and the teams I root for (I'll even throw the Rangers in there) have won two championships....one if I take away the Rangers. The playoff appearances I could even count on my fingers...maybe a couple of toes. And then there's the Arizona Diamondbacks, who broke the Mets' record for success out of the gate (1998, created, 2001 championship - the Mets were 1962, 1969), and are back on a successful run again. And the Rockies - who are on the upswing and made the World Series this year. This isn't the strongest argument in the world, but it's fresh in my mind. It's like your younger brother becoming more popular with your own friends, just when you've established some friendships. Not that I'd know.
So here I am, on the outside looking in. Sure looks like a lot of fun. I'm going to go back to watching TV now.