NY Jets, NY Mets and Pakistan

By Dr Sayed Mansoor Hussain for The Daily Times

Just as most Mets and Jets fans never gave up on their teams, it is necessary that Pakistanis must not give up on Pakistan. And if the Jets can win the big one this year and the Mets do it later this year, Pakistan also has a chance

By the time this column is printed, the New York Jets (an American Football team) will either have qualified to play in the ‘Super Bowl’ or else will have been eliminated in the Sunday evening game by the Pittsburgh Steelers. For most of my adult life I have been a fan of the NY Jets and the NY Mets. Of the New York metropolitan area teams, these two probably have the longest history of losing persistently. The Jets have not won a Super Bowl since 1969 and the Mets have won the World Series (of baseball) only twice, in 1969 and then in 1986. The NY Yankees (baseball) and the NY Giants (football team that plays in New Jersey) have a much better winning record and yet I do not consider myself a fan of either one of them.

Why then did a foreigner ‘fresh off the boat’ like me become a fan of two teams with such a dismal record? Probably it is all about timing. I arrived in the US in 1971 and spent my first six years living and working in New York State barely 20 miles away from New York City. And for the next 30 years I lived just across the river from NYC. When I arrived in NY these two teams had just won the championships a couple of years ago and for the Jets, their quarterback Joe Namath (Broadway Joe) was a household name as was the star pitcher for the Mets, Tom Seaver also known as ‘Tom Terrific’.

For many years people like me waited for either of these two teams to hit the big time once again but then got used to the idea that they would not win another championship any time soon. Frankly, seeing your favourite team lose again and again builds character, brings a sense of fortitude and above all teaches patience. The Jets never did come back after their first win but the Mets did have a brief resurgence when they won the World Series in 1986 and for a couple of years were a dominant baseball team. This time around it seems that the Jets have finally got their act together and even if they do not win the ultimate prize, they will have established themselves as ‘contenders’.

Why these thoughts at just this time? Two reasons. First, if the Jets win the big one all the years of waiting will have finally paid off. And only a diehard Jet fan can really and truly understand and empathise with how I feel about this. Second, when I think of my favourite NY teams that keep losing and I keep hoping, praying and waiting for them to win I just cannot help comparing them to my other favourite team and that is Pakistan. And yes I am still waiting for Pakistan to get its act together and win the big one or at least become a contender.

About the baseball Mets, their brief and meteoric rise in the middle 80s was epitomised by two young and brilliant players, Dwight Gooden the pitcher and Darrel Strawberry the long ball hitter. Both of them within a couple of years literally flamed out and with their fall from favour of the gods of baseball, so did their team. Here I must admit that when the Mets won the World Series in 1986, it was indeed a truly ‘shining moment’ for Mets fans like me. And the sixth game of that World Series will always be etched in my memory as one of the great moments in sports history.

When I think of these two teams during those early years of my life in the US, I cannot help but compare Broadway Joe (Namath) with Jinnah. Namath put the NY Jets and the young American Football League on the sports map of the US just as Jinnah put Pakistan on the map of the world. Tom Terrific (Seaver), the star pitcher of the NY Mets, on the other hand was a person of perseverance and little flamboyance who kept the Mets going for a few more years after their win in 1969. Perhaps he could be compared to Liaquat Ali Khan, the first prime minister of Pakistan.

As far as the Mets duo of the 80s, Gooden and Strawberry are concerned, they do make me think of ZAB and his rise and fall, mediated by his own personal failings rather than by adverse circumstances surrounding his brief but brilliant career as a politician. The point is that being a fan of these two NY teams taught me the perseverance to wait for a possible resurgence. This sense of patience combined with hope has allowed me as writer for these pages over the last many years to be much more optimistic about the future of Pakistan than many in the ‘commentariat’.

Just as I have faith in my favourite teams, I have faith in Pakistan. I realise that many ‘observers’ insist that Pakistan has reached the end of its tether or its rope or whatever apocalyptic metaphor one might wish to use, but it still survives and like the players on those teams the people of this country go to work every day and more often than not do the best they can. Yes, they will benefit from better leadership and with a few ‘star’ players that actually act as role models for the rest. And I am not willing to accept the proposition that Pakistan is devoid of such ‘star’ players.

Just as most Mets and Jets fans never gave up on their teams, it is necessary that Pakistanis must not give up on Pakistan. And if the Jets can win the big one this year and the Mets do it later this year, Pakistan also has a chance. What then about the prospects of the Pakistani cricket team? Let’s not get carried away here!

The writer has practised and taught medicine in the US.  He is expressing his own opinions in this article and not connected to this website. He can be reached at smhmbbs70@yahoo.com

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