By Jeff Capellini, WFAN.com
NEW YORK (WFAN) — For many of us, watching our favorite team fail to win a championship year after year is an exercise in patience and humility, not to mention a test of character. It’s especially trying as a fan in the New York market.
Because you know there’s always someone out there basking in your misery.
For Tyler Gildin, a younger 20-something I recently stumbled across thanks to the beauty of Twitter, it’s not so much about the agony and utter frustration that comes with consistent losing as it is never once being that blind squirrel that finds an acorn.
See, Gildin is the rarest of breeds, a fan of not just one or two perennially underachieving teams, but three.
Yup, you guessed it. Gildin may live in Manhattan, but his roots are based squarely on Long Island, which, like it or not, was for a long time the undisputed home bases of the area’s “other” professional sports teams. It makes no difference that his football team now plays in New Jersey, his hockey team may soon be playing anywhere but in Nassau County and his baseball team resides in Queens, which is caught in a sort of no-man’s land as property of both New York City and Long Island.
Gildin, as he likes to say, is a “JIM fan,” a supporter of the Jets, Islanders and Mets, and at this point in his life all he can really do is try to find the humor in it.
“I’m a very big fan of all three teams. It’s amazing how in my lifetime I’m just a loser. To watch the Yankees, Giants and Rangers have success, it’s unbelievable how crappy my life has been, but yet my loyalty increases every year,” Gildin said. “We always say next year is our year, but we choke, we collapse or underachieve. Yet for some reason I come back and hope that one year we will win a championship. And if that does happen, my friends who root for other teams will see how a true fan celebrates.”
Gildin’s love-hate relationship with his teams got to the point recently where he decided proactive measures needed to be taken. While it’s true the Jets, Isles and Mets have combined for seven championships, none have happened in the last quarter century. Gildin, who was born in 1989, said he’s been on a mission to find more fans like himself, guys and gals that share in the yearly horror that neither takes a season off nor pays them back for their undying loyalty.
He basically needed a high-tech support group.
So, what did he do? Why, he took to YouTube, of course. That’s what all young people do these days. They take their frustration or desire to express themselves to a platform that can reach millions of people, and along the way find many like-minded souls who have also had their noses pushed up the glass for the better part of their sports-loving lives.
“Growing up in Yankee New York as a Mets fan is like growing up in Candy Land as a diabetic. Everyone’s enjoying the sweet success and you’re just looking for a cure,” Gildin said.
Gildin, who just happens to be a stand-up comedian in real life, decided to put his many skills to use. He recruited his former college roommate, Andrew Bank, a production assistant in New York City, and together they concocted a three-minute video chronicling the pain and agony associated with being a JIM fan. They put together a cast of talented and aspiring young actors to play the roles of the downtrodden, each wearing a jersey of one of the teams and then espousing the sarcasm and utter frustration that certainly comes with being a fan of that team. By using humor and witty anecdotes, the cast strikes a cord that will almost certainly ring true with the viewer, even if he or she happens to root for just one of the three teams.
Hell, even Giants, Rangers and Yankees fans will get a kick out of the clip. They might even feel a quick moment of sympathy for their rivals and will certainly thank their lucky stars that they are not in the same predicament.
“I’m a comedian, so I do a lot of video work. I have a good following on Twitter and Facebook. It kind of just hit me while I was thinking of my teams: New York sports right now is just awesome, but not for me and many like me,” Gildin said. “The Yankees are always in the running for a championship. The Rangers are having their best season in a long time. The Giants just won the freakin’ Super Bowl. It’s amazing that New York sports is at its greatest and I can’t enjoy it. I wanted to capture the fan’s voice of the guy living there but not able to enjoy any of what they’re doing.”
So, Gildin, Bank, joke writer/comedian/actor Evan Krumholz and aspiring director Cody Milch decided to write, produce and act in what Gildin likes to call “the idiots’ guide to defending and supporting their teams.” And it’s loaded with improvisation.
The cast consists of Gildin, Krumholz, Brianne Berkson, Chris Distefano, Rosie Moss and Mike Brown, all aspiring entertainers. Pay close attention, Jets fans, to Krumholz and Berkson for they sum up the stories of the Rex Ryan era with the type of humor you’ll have no choice but to acknowledge and say to yourself “only the Jets.” Distefano homers as an exasperated Mets fan who has no love for the Wilpons but a great fascination with David Wright’s helmet, while Moss channels her inner Rosie Perez as an absolutely enchanting Hispanic supporter of shortstop Ruben Tejada. For his part, Gildin sums up the current alarming trends surrounding the Islanders with gusto, while Brown reflects on what it’s like to be a black man who is crazy about hockey.
“It should really hit home with any New York sports fan in general. If you see the obvious flaws of these teams you can either laugh at them or mock them,” Gildin said. “The question is: how are these guys still desperately hanging on to these teams? We decided to list all of the negative things but put it out there with a positive twist. We could have made the video negative and black and white, which was my original intent, but we chose to be sarcastic and creative, creating an upbeat and somewhat empowering call to action.
“Jokingly, we decided, well, maybe we suck but we’re still defending the suckiness.”
Gildin said his hope is more JIM fans will see the video and use it as a badge of honor or a call to arms. It’s one thing to be a front-runner or to have been born into greatness; it’s something else to fight the battles from a young age in the hope of one day reaching the pinnacle, be it with one championship, or two, or, God forbid, three.
“This is the generation that has never seen these teams win. This is the loser generation,” Gildin said. “It’s the reason why I have no one older than 25 in the video. This is the present day fan who has literally watched the Yankees at their all-time best, the Rangers and Giants at their best and the Jets, Islanders and Mets suffering chokes, last-minute collapses and tremendous underachieving seasons.”
There’s an old adage, a sort of unwritten rule among many fans that states it’s better to worry about your own teams than to offer opinions and criticisms of someone else’s teams. Gildin and his cast of crazies seem to have gotten the memo, and then some.
Read more columns by Jeff Capellini and follow him on Twitter at @GreenLanternJet
What do you think of the video? If you are a JIM fan, please, by all means, let your voices be heard in the comments section below …