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My Turn: Mets fan crosses the line - into Yankee country

 have experienced nothing but heartbreak, bouts of depression and despair watching my Mets descend into the depths of their division. After a promising start that ignited high expectations of a pennant race, it’s all come apart.

Not only are most of the guys underperforming, but injuries have stripped the roster bare and made the likelihood of a midseason “correction” and resurgence unimaginable. In view of this and to salvage my summer, I’m throwing in my lot with the New York Yankees. Yes, I will follow and root for the “Bronx Bombers” for the remainder of the 2018 season.

“You can’t be serious! Mets and Yankees fans have been bitter rivals over the years” — so said my Mets friends. Haughty Yankees supporters have mocked and had nothing but contempt for the boys from Flushing, Queens. It’s unthinkable, unnatural for anyone to go over to the hated enemy.

“Don’t expect to find anyone supporting such an outrageous betrayal,” a Mets fan warned me. “Real fans stick with their team in good times and in bad.”

Let me remind you that I’ve been a Mets fan beginning Day One in 1962. Casey Stengel, Ed Kranepool, Tom Seaver, Darryl Strawberry, Mookie Wilson, Lindsey Nelson, William Shea — I’ve followed Mets fortunes season after season, including the many lean years. I have an inscribed brick embedded in the sacred space just outside the main entrance to Citi Field.

Not long ago, I celebrated a Stuyvesant High School reunion with my classmate Saul Katz, Mets chief operating officer. My daughter and my grandson are devoted fans, unwavering in their loyalty. So much for my credentials — I’m no Johnny Come Lately or fair-weather fan.

So have I become unhinged? Many preseason prognostications placed the Mets in the thick of the pennant race, which meant that my summer would be filled by “meaningful” games day after day. Now that feels like ancient history. It’s hard to tune in these days, the Mets’ performance so often disheartening, leads blown, offense anemic.

My problem, therefore, became how to fill all the time I had expected to devote to watching baseball, a game I love. Why endure an endless, empty summer? The United States isn’t even in the World Cup!

I never was a Yankee hater. I rooted for the Mets to crush them whenever the two met, but otherwise I was OK with Yankee success. As a lifetime New Yorker, I’ve always cheered for our local teams. But of late that has been almost totally unrewarding. Giants, Jets, Rangers, Islanders, Knicks, Nets — it’s been a sports wasteland. As with any fan, winning means everything. So here come the Yankees of 2018. After a slow start, they’ve rocketed to the top. Young, powerful, speedy, well-armed, they promise to remain a contender for the entire season. For me, watching them will fill the endless hours of summer that otherwise threatened to be dull and empty.

I will get to know the Yankee players, root for them to win and extend the season into late September and October. I don’t expect to love the Yanks the way my heart has gone out to the Mets, but I will cheer for them and celebrate their heroics.

I’m not sure Mets fans will have had the stomach to read this far. Nor will they likely accept me back next season when, with any luck, the Mets will field a more competitive team. No doubt they’ll be delighted if, as the summer unfolds, the Yankees fade and the Mets right themselves and come on strong. You never know.

But I’m comfortable with my decision this season. I’m getting on in years. Another “lost summer” is not something I’m prepared to accept.

Richard Skolnick

Rockville Centre

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