02 November 2009

A Preamble for the Season

I am not a Yankee fan.

I find myself telling myself this, telling other people this, rediscovering it in little moments of really not caring who wins and wanting to go to bed. I feel like I might be protesting too much, but it's like every National Coming Out Day when I take a good hard look at my soul and say, "Nope. Not yet."

I was raised a Mets fan, through some of their lowest times of losingness. I remember one game when I was nine or ten, my dad, sister, and I leaving the game around inning six, as the score was 10-1. We had a running joke that we were a bad-luck charm for the team, but really, now. It wasn't our fault.

Beyond a completely random crush on catcher Todd Hundley, and subsequent irrational resentment of Mike Piazza, I was a hereditary Mets fan but never really took on the mantle myself. (Is that sort of like cultural Judaism? No belief, but the trappings and habits? Dippin Dots and failure.) I mean, I liked baseball, I enjoyed going to games, I even made the junior high softball team (and lasted a week before I realized they practiced every day and most of the girls were bitches). But I was never a Mets fan proper, in my own right.

So it was with great shame and hesitation that I realized, some time late in college, that I was getting to know the Yankees alarmingly well. By junior year I was spending abundant time on James' couch, doing homework or whatever with a baseball game in the background, and things only got worse when we lived together senior year. James is an aberrant Massachussettsan, the grandson of a Brooklynite, who hates real maple syrup and the Red Sox. And so, in a few years, with the tv on and my best friend watching, through college and living together after graduation - the addition of Kate for a year as third roommate, James' sister and fellow fan, only accelerated my defection - I got to know the players and the team, part of my little tv family along with Jim and Pam and Tyra Banks, except these people I could hear about on the radio, too.

(I also started learning more about baseball, the specifics of the rules and strategies. It's an ongoing process - did you know that a fouled bunt can be a third strike? I learned this two days ago.)

My (maternal) grandmother came into her own Yankee fandom a few years ago. My mother is a sports agnostic from a Yankees family (she allowed her daughters to be raised Mets fans, for godsake), and my grandmother had been similarly disinterested until... well I don't actually know what happened, but now she, former high school English teacher and current abstract painter, fucking loves them. Hearing "A-Rod" and "Jeter" coming as words out of her mouth, with the Mid-Atlantic accent she somehow developed growing up on the Lower East Side, is endlessly odd and wonderful. She runs to the TV after a dinner at my mom's house to catch the end of the game like an excited little kid.

But here is the thing: she - like all actual fans of a team, I think - cares if the Yankees win. And I don't think that I do. I know who (most of) the players are, have a sense for (most of) their strengths, weaknesses, tendencies, and stupid-ass necklaces. I love watching a game, whether I'm on my friend's couch or at the stadium (though I find it impossible to have any bloody sense of what's happening from the bleachers, and the elimination of Dippin Dots from this city's ballparks is a fucking disgrace). And yeah, winning is really exciting. But you know what else I really like watching? Just about any sport that I know - or, even better, am learning - something about.

Let me spend a season with my Mets-fan friends, or god, for my father's sake, find me a Mets fan for a boyfriend. Get me familiar with the players, take me to a game. Hideki who?

And that, folks, is the most long-winded introduction ever to just a link to an article I liked. By way of The Awl comes this lovely article about New York City and Yankee Stadium and how the two are really sort of the same thing.


Anonymous said...

I believe a person from massachusetts is a bay stater.
Also, cute post.


Amanda Ameer said...

"By junior year I was spending abundant time ON JAMES' COUCH, doing homework OR WHATEVER with a baseball game in the background, and things only got worse when we LIVED TOGETHER senior year."

Giggity, giggity, giggity goooooo!

Jane Weisfelner (your mom) said...

I loved what you wrote about Bobie (Jaime's grandmother). It is so true. She thinks she knows Jeter personally! I Love how you write! I laughed out loud while I was reading this alone in my office at work!

lets go mets! I mean..Yankees!!!!

Jane Weisfelner said...

It was only ten exclamation points, by the way! But the world IS a better place for your wit and my gratitude!!!!!