It can sometimes be hard to discern changes in one’s habits and motivations as a result of dharma practice. One area, however, in which I feel like I’ve observed a clear shift in myself is with regard to schadenfreude, enjoyment taken from the misfortune of others. I believe I can honestly say I indulge in schadenfreude less often than I once did.
That said, there is one area in which I’ve reserved for myself full sanction to relish other people’s misery: baseball.
I’m not much of a sports fan in general, but I do like baseball quite a bit. My father lives and breathes baseball, so I had little choice in the matter. He grew up rooting for the Yankees in the 1950s, when the Giants were still in Manhattan and the Dodgers in Brooklyn, and Queens (where he lived) was thus neutral territory. Of course, by the time I was a boy in Queens, in the 1980s, the Mets were the local team and they were in their heyday, winning the World Series in 1986 with a remarkably charismatic team (Gooden, Strawberry, Dykstra, Carter, etc), and coming close again in 1988. The Yankees, meanwhile, had teams built around Henderson, Randolph, Mattingly, and Winfield, which would have been very good but for lousy pitching, and they never quite contended in the AL East.
Loyal to Pop, I steadfastly rooted for the Yankees anyway, and in this I was pretty much the only one at P.S. 99-Q. The schoolyard was an ocean of orange and royal blue; we were shown Mets propaganda films in school. I was taunted mercilessly. It was in this way that my hatred for the Mets was born. In the twenty years since then I’ve remained a Yankee fan, and while there has been much Yankee success to celebrate, I think I enjoy the Mets losing more than anything else.
From my perspective, baseball reached perfection with the 2000 World Series, in which Yankee success was the direct cause of Met woe. Luis Polonia holding up the balloon reading “Mets in 3000” in the 9th inning as the Yankees went up 2-0 in the series. Jeter’s first-inning homer in Game 4 to break the momentum of the Mets’ only win the night before. Baseball should have ended that year; there was nowhere to go but down.
The last couple of years have been a treat though. First last year’s epic collapse. Then last night’s little reprise. My heart is aglow with evil joy.
May all sentient beings (except Met fans) be happy and free of suffering.