For almost my whole life, now all of 63 years, I've rooted for The New York Yankees. But then something unexpected happened. I started to pull for the Mets.
There. I said it.
Go ahead and sue me. I know lawyers.CartoonCartoon bullpen: Mets pizza vs. Cubs pizza
My Poppa took me to my first Yankee game in 1960, when I was 8. It kind of figured he would. He had resided as a young father of two on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx. And I had come into being at Bronx Lebanon Hospital. Then I lived with my mother and father, until age 2, at 910 Sheridan Ave., less than half a mile from Yankee Stadium.
You could say I was born to be a Yankee fan. Call it a territorial imperative.
Poppa took me to other games there, too. We once saw pitcher Mel Stottlemyre crank out an inside-the-park home run, a rare event. We watched the Yankees lose the fourth game of the 1964 World Series, with Yogi Berra as the manager. That stadium gave off an aura of the mythic, as if you were visiting Mount Olympus to catch the Gods in action.
Back then, I could recite the Yankees' lineup without taking a breath. I mimicked Mickey Mantle's swing, in slow motion, both right-handed and left-handed, in my bathroom mirror, a short, skinny, asthmatic Jewish kid in the Jersey suburbs aspiring to be this farm boy phenomenon from Oklahoma.
My grandfather and I often talked baseball. He got me a subscription to a newspaper, at my request, so I could follow the Yankees, right down to the box scores, in the sports pages.
Who needed the upstart Mets back then? The Mets had materialized out of the blue, minus any history. They had no Babe Ruth, no Lou Gehrig, no Joe DiMaggio. They played baseball in some exotic locale named Queens, near the lyrically named neighborhood known as Flushing. What a joke. Plus, they stunk.
I mean, come on.
The Yankees, on the other hand, pretty much always delivered, from Whitey Ford and Bobby Richardson to Tony Kubek. Reggie Jackson smacked those three home runs on three straight pitches in the 1977 World Series. You had Dave Winfield and Rickey Henderson and Don Mattingly and then Joe Torre came through with his hot streak.
But over the years, my fidelity to the Yankees faded, pinstripe by pinstripe. I never warmed to George Steinbrenner and his perennially big payroll. Cheering for a dynasty came to feel un-American, as if genuflecting to someone born to a throne. Winning came too easy, each World Series almost a gimme.
Then my Poppa died of cancer and the city tore down the stadium and Mariano Rivera left the mound and Derek Jeter retired and I ran out of heroes. It happened both slowly and suddenly. And then that was kind of it. Case closed, the thrill gone.
Oh yeah, and I moved to Queens in 1977. And soon became a booster for this far-flung, sprawling borough, openly celebrating its world-class ethnic diversity and even better diners.
If I had to pinpoint my moment of metamorphosis, it had to be this past July. I went to Citi Field with my friends to watch the Mets against the Washington Nationals. The Mets went down, but then came up big, banging out four hits, including two homers, on four swings of the bat. The Mets won the game and tied for the division lead and the crowd went nuts.
And that's when it hit me. I like this, I thought. This is good. This feels right. And I switched brands, pledging allegiance to a team on the upswing at the expense of one that just might be heading down.
About this I feel neither pride nor shame. It's just a fact.
So go ahead. Call me a fair-weather fan, a two-timer, a traitor. But give me Granderson and Yoenis Cespedes and David Wright and Jacob deGrom and Lucas Duda and Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz any day of the week.
In my heart of hearts, here's what I suspect explains my change of attitude. I've now lived long enough to understand, to appreciate, that most of us are inherently more Met than Yankee. Yes, we may win a championship now and then. But more likely we're underdogs, ever lagging, our lives more struggle than success.
And that may compel us to prefer humility over arrogance. That's why most of us would probably rather bet on David than Goliath. We hunger for the impossible to become the probable.
I'm also old enough to realize that just as life is all about clinging to what we love, it's also sometimes about learning to let go. It's never too late for a new heyday.
I lived in the Bronx, but now I live in Queens. I see what that has come to mean. The Yankees are my past -- and will always be dear to me -- but the Mets are now my future.
Bob Brody, an essayist and executive living in Forest Hills, is author of the upcoming memoir, "Playing Catch With Strangers: A Family Guy (Reluctantly) Comes Of Age."