Love hurts, as Mets fans know only too well -- for a half-century now.

It's a love born of frustration, when the Dodgers and the Giants fled to the West Coast in 1957, leaving New York without a National League team.

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The 1962 Mets played in the Polo Grounds, the misshapen, abandoned home of the Giants. Their caps featured Giants orange and Dodgers blue, and former Dodgers greats like Gil Hodges and a Giants legend, Willie Mays, played their final games in those colors.

The 1962 Mets were epochally bad, losing 120 games -- a modern-era record. But the fans loved them anyway.

They loved the zany Mets, like Marv Throneberry, who turned a triple into an out by failing to touch not one but two bases, and later Jimmy Piersall, who touched them all after a home run, but ran it out facing backward.

In time, they loved the young, overachieving Mets, like Tom Seaver and Bud Harrelson, who led them to World Series glory in 1969. They loved the wayward Mets, like Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, key players in the only other Mets championship, in 1986. And they love today's promising young players, like Ike Davis and Lucas Duda.

Recent times have been lean: late-season collapses, endless injuries and a shrunken payroll. But new, homegrown players offer hope. There will be up and down times at Citi Field, as there were at Shea. Through it all, bet on this: The fans will still love their Mets.