NY Mets ’til I die

In the absence of baseball, survival strategies for managing the pandemic reign supreme. As a scientist, it is hard to imagine the pathway for getting teams in isolation enough to play anytime soon. Rather than making another rear-looking assessment of past incarnations of Mets or thinking about some pathway to a 2020 season, here is a recommendation for eating some time as all of us are doing. Astute watchers and fans of English football – or sports fans dying to see anything on television these days – will know I lifted this title from the incredible Netflix documentary series entitled “Sunderland ‘Til I Die,” which chronicles the trials and tribulations of the Sunderland football club in the past couple of years. Hearing about the series from someone who gave it a rave review, coupled with a desire to kill some evening time rang a bell, so on it went with the simplest of expectations: to watch a cool sports series that people seem to love. For me, the football World Cup is “must see,” but beyond that, English football (or the MLS) remains only a passive interest when other preferable options are exhausted. I figured that Sunderland was a town somewhere in England, which Google Maps confirmed. Why it would be the center of a hugely popular major TV epic was unknown, but worth finding out.

The show is a phenomenal product, well worth the time to watch. It does not matter that it is about “football,” or some team you’ve never heard of, because the story uses football as a vehicle to document the insanity of ups and downs of sports fandom. The filming is awesome, the characters so compelling, and after a number of episodes, the story hit me right in the eyes as not only about Sunderland AFC, but about the New York Mets, more specifically the arc of the team and our rabid fan base. What is so cool about the series is that it is a complete look at the team from inside the front office, to inside the homes of fans, to game day coverage in the stands and field of play, to the local watering hole afterwards.

Following Sunderland through two seasons (2017-2019) makes it current in terms of cultural relevance; thankfully it can be binge watched. In this time frame there are ups and downs, ownership issues, changes in front office philosophy, managing personnel from stars with egos to the kids dying to earn a spot, and on-field events that all resonate so strongly with the Orange and Blue. One would be forgiven for thinking all this was actually about the Mets, but with names and places changed to protect the anonymity of those not authorized to talk. No detailed spoilers if you haven’t seen it.

Outside of the daily goings on, what really stuck with me is the incredible working-class fan base, who live and die by their team. Also, not all fans root the same, which can be seen here at Mets 360, where we have a range from eternal optimism, to realism, to pessimism. Underneath all that is one thing however: like the fans of Sunderland AFC, each of us loves the Mets to the marrow no matter how the range of outward expressions look. We follow, chat, write, analyze, cheer, and criticize, but in the end it still all adds up to “New York Mets ‘til I die”. So take a recommendation and fire up this series while you have time and just enjoy the hell out of it. I’d be curious if those that see it feel the same as I do about the proximity to the Mets.

7 comments for “NY Mets ’til I die

  1. TexasGusCC
    May 5, 2020 at 1:48 am

    It sounds interesting, but aren’t all fan bases kind of similar? The blue collar guy yells the loudest and people that have been fans since they were kids have learned year after year to drink their medicine and like it,unless they happen to root for that team seemingly blessed by God. The Patriots, the Bulls in the 90’s, The Braves, the 49ers, The Dodgers of the 10’s and the Yankees of the 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 80’s, 90’s and always. And then there’s the Mets of once in a while. Better than the Pirates, huh?

    Think Patriot fans are ready to start losing? I’ve been to soccer games in Europe and while the atmosphere is awesome the after-game stuff is stuff to avoid. It’s like Giants fans going to Dodger games if you root for the other team.

    I don’t have Netflix, Chris. But if I did, I would take your recommendation.

    • Chris F
      May 5, 2020 at 6:07 am

      Hi Gus, the connection is not just about a passionate fan base because as you point out a lot of teams do, it’s the totality if the teams situation. Without going into details, spoilers if you will, it’s hard to explain. But let me offer you this: do patriot fans have ownership issues? Money issues? Not so much. The Behind-the-scenes perspective charting the course of the Sunderland team events with their fan base In tow is so Metsian you have to see it to believe it!

  2. May 5, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    On your recommendation, I watched this series. Let me first say that while I don’t hate soccer, I’m certainly not a fan – don’t even watch the World Cup. Generally, it’s not for me.

    As for the show, I’d break it down as follows:

    Overall Idea for Show: A
    Access to People: A
    Execution of Idea: B-/C+

    While not a soccer fan, this story is one that you don’t have to be a fan to appreciate. I actually have a complaint that there’s not enough game action in the series. Maybe there’s the right amount of game action – it’s trying to appeal to a non-sports audience – but if so, it’s poorly displayed in the story.

    Overall the game footage needed better context. And every scene showing practice footage needed to be re-edited. Outside of showing they had access to practices, they added nothing to the story. And maybe the angles of the shots were fine for soccer fans. But so often I wanted better shots than what we were given.

    Also, character development needed some tweaks. I get that there were so many moving parts and that things moved quickly. There were an awful lot of changes during the two seasons the series chronicles. But I was left wanting a lot more about the first coach and several of the players, most notably the guy who got in trouble for blabbing about his teammates and what happened to the guy they worked so hard to get during the transfer period who seemingly gave up the sport once he scored a goal.

    If they come out with a third season, I’d continue to watch.

    • Chris F
      May 5, 2020 at 5:15 pm

      Did you see analog with the Mets?

      • May 5, 2020 at 6:04 pm

        I’m afraid I don’t. I see this more like Gus sees it – just the generic similarities that the overwhelming majority of teams have at some point in a, say, 10-year span. Having said that, I’d love to see what a more skilled documentary filmmaker could do with the Mets with the same type of access.

  3. Chris F
    May 5, 2020 at 6:15 pm

    terrible ownership, sale of team, extremely high priced free agent that doesnt fit, rise of youth player to become a leader, fabulous stadium where home team has struggled mightily, fan base of epic dimensions (think 7Line), endless fan media coverage, change in front office from dull to dramatic, failing to seal the deal in a huge situation, season crippling injuries

    • May 5, 2020 at 7:55 pm

      Terrible ownership? They had absentee ownership that basically let the club run whatever budget they wanted to. Then one year they decided to be frugal and then new ownership came in with a plan and then went far above what they said they would to get the transfer player. I don’t see this being even slightly common with what the Mets have.

      Sale of team – Real for the soccer club, theoretical for the Mets. Don’t see it being similar

      Not sure which youth player you’re referring to for the soccer team? Maga? He ended up leaving first chance he got.

      Fabulous stadium? Which team in MLB that has one built in the last 30 years doesn’t have a good stadium? Soccer team struggled one year at home and then had a very good record the next season.

      Epic fan base? Eh, all of the soccer team in the Premier League have passionate fan bases. It was a big deal to get 40,000 fans to a soccer game when they have, what, 25-30 home games a year? Mets had 81 home games last year and drew 40,000+ nine times.

      All sport teams have large fan media coverage these days.

      I think there are many (negative) ways that one could characterize the Sandy Alderson era front office. I think you’re in the minority calling it dull. I wouldn’t characterize the initial soccer front office that way, either.

      With only one team sealing the deal per season, it’s not an unexpected occurrence.

      Many teams suffer season-crippling injuries.

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