Kuntzman: Being a Met fan makes me a better person

I’m not going to apologize for being a Met fan.

Believe me, it’s not easy rooting for the (less-than) Amazin’s, but suffering with this insufferable team has made me a better man.

Here’s my rationale: Growing up as a Met fan taught me at a young age how to deal with disappointment. And not just disappointment, but repeated, annual, humiliating disappointment.

Yes, the team won a first World Series when I was 5 — but by the time I actually started going to games, the Mets were in the midst of a decade-and-a-half of debacle (yes, I’m talking about you, George Foster).

But there was a silver lining to the Shea clouds: I grew up never taking anything for granted, never expecting that life would be easy.

Yankee fans have no conception of struggle. They don’t learn that good things don’t always happen to good people.

My reasons for hating the Yankees go far beyond their infuriating success, their extravagant hiring practices, their cocky fans (hey, isn’t that arrogant Donald Trump in the front row?), the way the city treats them as a civic religion (did Mayor Giuliani get PAID for all his cheerleading?), and, of course, the soiled legacy of Roger Clemens.

The Yankees are a thuggish older brother, treating their often-hapless cross-town rivals like an All-State quarterback treats the waterboy. When I was a reporter for The New York Post, I was forced to cover at least three of the Yankees’ victory parades up the so-called “Canyon of Heroes.” (There were so many of these parades during these years that I now call that stretch of lower Broadway anything but the “Canyon of Heroes,” preferring the “Gully of Greatness,” the “Crevasse of Conquistadors,” the “Ravine of Winners” and my favorite, “Glory Gorge.”)

The parades left me scarred. Here’s a sample conversation between myself and a Yankee World Series parade-goer:

REPORTER: So, how does it feel to be here today?

PARADE-GOER (taking a swig out of an unmarked paper bag): It’s f—ing great! F—ing Yankees! We showed those f—ing (fill in the name of that year’s hapless Yankee opponent) that you can’t mess with the New … York … f—ing … Yankees!

One year, I wore my Mets cap to the parade. Now, remember, during a typical year, the Mets did little but wave as the Yankee Express steamrolled past, so I expected Yankee fans to see my hat and pat me on the back with a friendly, “Well, maybe next year, buddy.”

But Yankee fans are about as gracious in victory as Gen. Pinochet. I felt like I was wearing a Hitler mask at the Israeli Day Parade! Even New York’s Finest could not guarantee me safe passage up the Fissure of Fantastics. “You’re wearing a Mets hat?” a cop asked me. “What are you, friggin’ crazy? They’ll kill you in there.”

But I survived, and, thanks to the Mets, have thrived. Of course, that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to see a 100-win season. I mean, I may be a Met fan, but I’m not crazy.

Gersh Kuntzman is the editor of the Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, Carroll-Cobble and Williamsburg Couriers.