I'm 23 years old, and along with my family, friends, and a handful of great girls, sports have been one of the loves of my life. I grew up gazing in awe at a gliding Michael Jordan, wanting to mash homers like Ken Griffey Jr., and wondering why every running back couldn't reverse fields like Barry Sanders. (Of course now I realize how unique Barry was). And as I watched the superstars do their thing for other teams, I had my own personal favorites to worry about: the Mets, Jets, and Islanders. Maybe you know where this one is going...
As a kid, I always had hope. Faith that one of my teams would become the Bulls, Cowboys, or Yankees of its sport, that my relentless and undying support would somehow propel them to The Promised Land. Year after year my expectations grew, and my painstaking level of disappointment followed suit. My passion for my teams was so strong, even up to a couple of years ago, but now...my sports soul is dying.
How can I revive it?
It started in 2006 when my Mets were arguably the best team in baseball, and I honestly believed it was their season to fulfill the dream. They swept the Dodgers in the NLDS, and I was at Shea Stadium for Game six of the NLCS when we pushed the Cardinals to a decisive Game seven.
Game seven. At home. Against a team that many believed was the weakest to reach the postseason that year. Imagine the gut-wrenching highs and lows, beginning with Endy Chavez's timeless homerun-saving catch in left field, and ending with Yadier Molina's unlikely and utterly devastating two-run homer off Aaron Heilman. The emotional hangover lasted for months.
Fast forward to today. The Mets' regular season was one of the saddest and most pathetic in the history of professional baseball, the Knicks are 3-11, the Nets are 0-14, and the Jets went from 3-0 to 4-6. The Islanders were so bad the past few seasons—last place, last place, second-to-last—that I never thought I'd get to the point where they would be the most watchable team of my favorites. And yet, they are. Let's clap for their 9-8 record.
But my point is not that my teams are losers, my point is that the way my teams have fallen has been nearly impossible to take. Last season the Jets beat an undefeated Titans' team on the road, went to an impressive 8-3, and eventually found a way to miss the playoffs. Everyone knows about the Mets' collapses of '07 and '08. The Knicks and Nets have down-spiraled into a level of completely unwatchable basketball. And oh yeah, I was a student at UConn and devoted fan of the basketball team when they were bounced from the NCAA Tournament by George Mason . George Mason .
So fellow members of The Bleacher Report, how do I get out of this rut? With the Nets and Knicks sacrificing their seasons for free agent pipe dreams, the Jets suffering through the expected-but-painful rookie quarterback woes, and the Mets talking about Russell Branyan and Joel Pineiro instead of Matt Holliday and Roy Halladay...how can I remain positive about my teams?
Have they given me a reason to?
(John Frascella is the author of "Theo-logy: How a Boy Wonder Led the Red Sox to the Promised Land," the first and only book centered on Boston's popular GM Theo Epstein. "Theo-logy" can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Borders. Follow John on Twitter @RedSoxAuthor.)