To Be a Mets Fan in L.A.: Jimmy Kimmel, Glenn Close and More Defend Their Team

Mets Fans Ed Redlich and R.J. Cutler  - H 2015
Courtesy of Ed Redlich

As the Mets and the Dodgers square off one last time with the season on the line, the Hollywood denizens rooting against the hometown team explain themselves: "I can't make myself love another team."

Make no mistake — Los Angeles belongs to the Dodgers. But as the local boys head into Game 5 tonight against the New York Mets in the National League Division Series, industry fans of the long-suffering orange and blue are proudly — yet cautiously — showing off their spirit. The Hollywood Reporter got inside the heads of Hollywood's biggest Mets fans to discover why they've stuck with their team through the three decades since their last World Series title.

Jimmy Kimmel

I still am rooting for the Mets. The Dodgers broke my heart many years ago — the year was 1983 when they let Steve Garvey go to the Padres, and they let Mike Piazza go. I haven't forgiven them entirely. Make no mistake about it: I will be rooting for the Mets, and they have a great chance. But we have low self-esteem. We live in fear of the roof caving in on us, so we pretend that we are expecting the worst to happen, but deep inside we think the best will happen. We are optimists, but we won’t admit it. We are secret optimists. … As for superstitions or rituals, when I was a kid, if my team was winning, and I was laying upside down on the couch, I would stay in that position through the whole game. And now, I feel like the team has a better chance of winning if I watch from beginning to end, even though intellectually I know that is ridiculous. I want to say that I really hope they win, and then you can write, "He let out a painful sigh."

R.J. Cutler, filmmaker (The September Issue, If I Stay)

My iconic Mets stories go back to 1969, when I spent my eighth birthday at Shea Stadium with my family and my best friend. It was my birthday, and it was fan appreciation night, traditionally the final night of the season. That year turned out to be the night the Mets clinched first place. They had never finished near first place. Fans stormed the field and ripped up the infield and outfield lawns, taking pieces of turf as mementos, celebrating on the pitcher’s mound and hugging each other and dancing. It was an incredible night. We planted a piece of turf in our backyard. It reminds me of a year like this when the Mets are great again. On some level, and this is probably true of all baseball fans, your life story can be marked by the momentous occasions in the team’s life that you’ve experienced and shared. I think this is going to be a hard-fought series. I’m hoping it will be miraculous, and we can take the Dodgers in five games for sure. Baseball does deliver real emotional stuff. My wife was watching with me the other day as the final pitch came down, and they clinched the division. My daughter Maddie has her Mets bib. And you know, my dad passed away three years ago, and I don’t often think, "Hey, I should call my dad." But when they won, I wanted to call my dad. These connections run very deep in the lives of baseball fans. It’s real stuff.

Ed Redlich, writer-producer (Unforgettable, Without a Trace)

I have been a Mets fan since 1962. And now, I’m a season-ticket holder. I have tickets to every game in New York even though I only got them 10 years ago when I moved [to Los Angeles]. If I can’t use them, my friend Ian Biederman, who works on Blue Bloods in New York, uses the tickets. My wife and my accountant are on me constantly, asking, "Are you sure you want to do this?" But they are the best seats — eight rows behind home plate at Citi Field. This has been a crazy year. Amazing. We were awful for half the season, really awful, and then suddenly it all turned around. The great thing about Mets fans is that you assume the worst is going to happen. That’s how you root, by assuming disaster will strike at any moment.  Once it’s in your blood, you can’t get it out. As for my predictions, I have to say they are going to be out in three. I have to say that, because anything good that happens will just feel great. Even though, I really would like to say I think they are going to win.

Glenn Close

I’ve sung for the Mets over the years, including the anthem at their first game at home in the 1986 World Series. I had a grandmother who loved baseball, and she was a big Yankee fan, so I started out as one too. But around the time I started my career onstage in New York in '74, I switched over to the Mets. And then I was dating Len Cariou, and he was a friend of [Mets star] Rusty Staub’s, and Rusty owned a great rib place on Third Avenue. Sometimes we would join Rusty there after a game, and it was fascinating to hear him analyze what had gone on. I’ll never forget one time when Nolan Ryan joined us after pitching against Rusty, and hearing two guys at the peak of their game talk about the game they had just played. It gave me a whole different depth of appreciation for the game.

Glenn Close hosting the Mets' official team party on the eve of Game 1 of the 1986 World Series

Hank Azaria

In 1986 I moved from New York to Los Angeles, and because I loved baseball and back then it was hard to follow your chosen team from anywhere, I decided to switch to becoming a Dodger fan. So I spent spring training following them and learning about their staff and roster and who was doing what and what the storylines were gonna be, and by opening day I was well-versed, and the first pitch got thrown, and I realized: I don’t care. I’m a Mets fan. I can’t make myself love another team. That collapse in ’07 really bummed me out. I had about a week of feeling kinda down. One thing Mets fans share is a learned helplessness, no matter what you do. But this season has been genuinely healing. When things were at their worst, Wilmer Flores [possibly getting traded] and losing Carlos Gomez, leading to Wilmer staying and us getting [YoenisCespedes. The Mets usually have just the first half of that: We can’t even get a trade, we can’t even get a guy without making our own team cry. But sometimes it works out. It’s been very affirming.

Peter Liguori, Tribune Media CEO

When you are an Italian-American growing up in the Bronx 10 minutes north of Yankee Stadium with a family of nothing but Yankee fans, it was considered completely sacrilegious to love the Mets. But my first ballgame was a Met game, and that was the start of my allegiance, when I was around 7 years old. Then in 1969 my father, who was a working-class guy, took me to the World Series. He drove me to Shea and said, “I could only come up with one ticket. Remember where I’m parked.” I went in on my own and it wound up being one of the great games in the history of the Mets, Game 3 when Tommie Agee made those two catches and hit a home run, I might add. It always endeared me to my father and certainly endeared me to the team.

When I took my job at Fox, Jeff Shell and Tracy Dolgin insisted that we talk about my contract by going to a Yankees game. My favorite pitcher of all time, ex-Met Dwight Gooden, was on the mound that night pitching for the Yankees. Gooden wound up pitching a no-hitter in that game. Earlier, in about the fifth inning, I said, “Guys, you gotta stop. I cannot possibly talking about business while this is going on.”

I’m encouraging all Met fans to give their best wishes to Rusty Staub, who was a hero in the 1973 World Series and had a heart attack two weeks ago on the plane coming home from Ireland. Fortunately he’s OK [he threw out the first pitch before NLDS Game 3 on Monday]. All Mets fans, think good things for Rusty’s quick return.

Sam Esmail, creator of Mr. Robot

It’s hard being a Mets fan in L.A. because there are such hardcore fans. During the 2006 playoffs, Jonathan Levine [director of Warm Bodies and the upcoming Seth Rogen holiday comedy The Night Before] and I went to Dodgers Stadium with Mets gear on. It was a huge mistake. Beer bottles were thrown, and when we lost we were crying.

Matt Dillon

‎My dad was a Giants fan, but the Giants abandoned him for SF. My grandfather’s college roommate at Georgetown was Bill Shea, and it was he and Joan Payson who brought National League baseball back to New York. When the Mets were born in '62, my dad took my mother on their honeymoon to the Polo Grounds for a Mets double header. I came a few years later. I don't get to choose the team I root for. It's in my DNA. To be a Mets fan takes character and a degree of masochism. If someone tells you they are a Met fan, you know they ain’t lying.

Kevin Dillon

I’m one of six kids, all die-hard Mets fans, and every year for my birthday, my dad would take us to Shea. Those are my early memories, getting to watch Willie Mays run around in center field. We were always way up in the bleachers, but it was a lot of fun. On Entourage, unfortunately a lot of the guys were Yankee fans: Kevin Connolly, Jerry Ferrara. Adrian Grenier didn’t have a preference so I fought hard to talk him into being a Mets fan: “Adrian, we’re from Queens, we’re [playing] brothers, we’re both gonna be Mets fans.”

Jon Harmon Feldman, executive producer of Blood & Oil

I’ve been a Mets fan since I was 5 or 6 years old. That’s 40 years. I grew up on Long Island, and it’s the first team I ever rooted for. My dad was a truant officer so we used to go to one game a year and sit really high up in the old Shea Stadium. I was young [then], and I spent most of my time counting planes that flew by. I thought Shea Stadium was the best place in the world. I didn’t realize until later that it really was a shit hole. I was a kid when Tom Seaver was with them. I cried myself to sleep when they traded him to the Reds. I was so angry at the Mets that I refused to root for them for years. But later, I came back around. Who is my favorite player? When I was in junior high I guess, or high school, Darryl Strawberry was a star and he was my favorite. These days, it’s hard not to be a David Wright fan because he’s the face of the franchise. But I don’t discriminate — if the guy is wearing a Mets uniform, I root him. I have spent a lot of time apologizing to my kids for making them Mets fans because it can be a bit of a burden rooting for them. But then again, it’s interesting because you feel like you take great pride in the accomplishment of others (now in the playoffs), as if I had anything to do with it. I’m irrationally happy. I feel good about their chances. I’m not in the prediction business, but I’m happy they are there. It’s been a magical summer. Let’s go, Mets!

Dave Annable (Brothers & Sisters, NBC’s upcoming Heartbreaker)

My first baseball game was the July 4 fireworks game at Shea Stadium in 1986, the season the Mets won the World Series. After I shot my pilot for Heartbreaker, I had a lot of time off, so I’ve literally probably watched 100 Mets games this year. I’ve gotten my wife [The Astronaut Wives Club’s Odette Annable] on board this season. It started with, “He’s cute, he’s cute,” then all of a sudden, she’s along for the ride. Our five-year wedding anniversary was on Oct. 10 [the date of the NLDS Game 2], so I had to sit down with her and say, “Hey, babe. First of all, you know that I love you. Secondly, how about for our anniversary we go to Dodger Stadium to watch the Mets?” Without skipping a beat, she was like, “Well, you’d better be taking me and no one else.” We just had a baby girl, so it’s been quite a year. Now, if the Mets win the World Series, which event will be bigger or will I remember more, the birth of my daughter or the Mets winning? I can’t guarantee that I know the answer yet. Let’s just let that play out.

Julia Stiles

I got to throw out a first pitch during the Willie Randolph days, and he gave me the business. I was standing near the dugout, shaking and nervous because I am not used to standing in a Major League Baseball field, and he turned to me, grinned, and said, "Don't mess it up, or they'll boo you." They, meaning 50,000 people.

Hugh Fitzpatrick, head of television, Teakwood Lane Prods.

Mets fans are conditioned to expect certain things. If you Google "Mets fans," you’ll see bags on their heads. The point of that is fans have been conditioned to expect the other proverbial shoe to drop. But the other part of being a Mets fan, to me, is that I always felt like it was too easy to be a Yankees fan. It’s like cheering for U.S. Steel or Microsoft. They could buy themselves whatever they needed. It’s all victory all the time. What initially interested me, from the beginning, is that I felt like they were building something fun. And they still are. I think their chances are decent, primarily because of their pitching. They have a real shot. I have no animosity toward the Dodgers. The team I loathe more than anything is the Cardinals. I invite that matchup.

Zachary Druker, WME partner

I was 8 years old in 1986 [when the Mets last won the World Series], and that was a very formative, larger-than-life experience for me when I was young. In my lifetime they’ve provided me with fits of excitement and fits of frustration and unhappiness, but if you’re a fan, it is what it is. The most recent collapse in 2006 stands out as very painful, primarily because I work with a really large Phillies fan in Ari Greenberg.

Steve Baker, vp programming, HBO

My grandfather was a Brooklyn dodgers fan, and he had season tickets. They left, and he hated the Yankees, so once the Mets were announced and came to town in 1961, it filled that void, and I’ve been a Mets fan ever since. My son is named Carter, after Gary Carter — he was my favorite player. I sort of slipped it past my wife at first. We weren’t sure of the sex of the baby yet and we were hiking Runyon Canyon, and we were bouncing baby name ideas around. I mentioned Carter and she loved it, but later a buddy of mine let it slip that Gary Carter was my favorite player. … This is surreal being in the playoffs. Usually by April or May, I’m embarrassed to wear my Mets hat. But now, I think the Mets can take it in 5 and go the whole way. I wear the same hat until we lose, and then I switch it up and flip through them. I love the L.A. and New York thing. I’m a New Yorker, but this is my home now. So I won’t trash talk the Dodgers. I just hope the Mets can take it.

Shea Stadium seats in Steve Baker's office

Trevor Engelson, Underground partner

I’m from Great Neck, which is a little town on Long Island. The Mets started in Queens around the same time as people who had only a couple decades ago moved to Long Island from Brooklyn and the city. They had no allegiance to the Yankees and started anew. So my grandfather and my uncles and my dad, all from Brooklyn, loved the new upstart Mets. That’s the house I grew up in.Mets fans are the underdogs of the world, the ones who can handle the heartache and enjoy the rare big wins even more because they don’t happen as often. Growing up a Mets fan builds character. The Yankees may have Jay Z rapping about them, but we have Action Bronson rapping about us, and that’s so much more fun! Underdogs for life!

Steven Fisher, Underground manager

I grew up in Westchester, right outside the city, and was a Mets fan from the start. I was born in ’82, and in my childhood the Mets were a really good team, and as I became an adolescent they were a bad team, and it’s been a roller coaster ride ever since.When I was in high school, the Mets were in the postseason, but I had to take the SATs the day of the game. I literally got done with the SATs, changed into a Mets jersey, and drove straight to the game, where Todd Pratt hit the series-ending home run against the Diamondbacks. It was a day I’ll never forget, with the pressure of trying to get into college at a time when the Mets were actually good.

Sam Hansen, president of television production, Mosaic

Growing up in New York, you have to pick a team: You can’t be both a Mets and Yankees fan. When I was a kid in the early to mid-‘80s, the Mets had Doc Gooden and Keith Hernandez and [Darryl] Strawberry and Gary Carter and then all of a sudden, I’m in sixth grade and they win the World Series. And so they just win your heart over when you’re a kid. But when I think of the all-time standout moments, they’re all moments of shattering heartbreak: [St. Louis Cardinals third baseman] Terry Pendleton’s home run in 1987, the ’88 National League Championship Series. The collapse a couple years ago, and bad deals: Mo Vaughn, Bobby Bonilla. Mets fans tend to talk more about the low points than the high points. Mets fans talk about the horror stories. There’s an email thread that sort of commiserates through the year, with Steve Baker over at HBO, Hugh Fitzpatrick, Zach Druker, Steve Fisher at Underground. Oly Obst, he’s the doomsday guy. If I get an email from Oly, I know it’s about an injury or a humiliating loss, or some horrible deal that we’re going to make. When we’re winning, you don’t hear from Oly. But if like something terrible is happening with the organization, Oly’s on it.

Oly Obst, 3 Arts manager

If you’re a true Mets fan, then you’re Chicken Little. Something terrible is going to happen. I grew up in L.A – I never felt a connection to the Dodgers; I don’t know why – but my family all lives in New York and they were mostly Mets fans, so they cursed me with this terrible trait. I remember Kenny Rogers walking in the winning run against Atlanta. I remember Carlos Beltran not swinging the bat in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS. I remember Tom Glavine giving up seven earned runs in the first inning of the last game of the next season, when they blew a seven-and-a-half game lead with 17 games to go. I remember Steve Trachsel just always being bad at pitching. I guess I remember a couple great [Mike] Piazza hits. I also remember Piazza flying out to end the Subway Series. But I’ve endured so much at this point. The team’s owners were fully profiting off Bernie Madoff for over a decade, and then when Madoff went belly up, they took all their money that they made, put it into a different account, and the Mets had to borrow money from Major League Baseball. They’re run like a shell game; we’re the second-lowest payroll in the National League. And I’m still rooting for them! I endured the entire Willie Randolph era. I watched every John Franco blown save. Armando Benitez, our closer, had six fingers on his pitching hand and a penchant for blowing baseball games in the dumbest ways possible. I’m not going to give up now – I haven’t been hurt enough yet.

But losing to the Dodgers is just not our style. I snuck a broom into Dodger Stadium the last time we played each other in the playoffs, when the Mets swept the Dodgers. I brought two brooms, one of which I hid in my clothes. The other one I held out in the open, so when I passed through, they took only my decoy broom away. My wife bought me a Mets jersey that says “Muffy” on the back of it, because that’s our pet name for each other. I wore it to both games out here. All the Mets fans in Dodger Stadium know me as “Muffy,” which is embarrassing.

Anand Shah, 20th Century Fox TV vp comedy development

I could never support the Dodgers, because I’m still upset they beat us in 1988. After that, the Mets didn’t make it back to the playoffs until 1999, and by then I was a sophomore at the University of Michigan. My best friend growing up had managed to get tickets for Game 4 of the NLCS against the Braves, and I convinced my parents to fly me home for it.  Unfortunately, I managed to miss my flight. I took the next one available and when I landed, the Mets were losing in the fifth inning. By the time I got to Shea, it was already the seventh, and 20 minutes later the game was over. Miraculously, my friend was able to get tickets for Game 5 on a Sunday, and my parents mercifully paid to push my flight back a day and let me miss school. We started in the last row in the upper deck, but after 16 rain-soaked innings, we managed to get eight rows from the Mets dugout. They gave up two runs in the top half of the inning, and then, while we stood on our seats in the bottom half, Robin Ventura hit the famous grand slam single. It was one of the most memorable games in their history.

Sal Iacono, best known as Cousin Sal (Kimmel’s cousin)

I’m a die-hard fan. In the Subway Series [in 2000 when the Mets faced the Yankees)], I got a hernia lifting my luggage up from the subway. During one of the games, I know I should have had surgery already, but I didn’t even say anything about it. At the risk of sounding gross, I relieved myself all over my jeans. But that’s not the worst of it — we’ve seen doom and gloom with this team. There is now a sense of camaraderie after making it over those bumps and losing years of the ‘70s when the Mets would win 62 or 65 games. Misery is what brought you together. And here we are now.