Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Being a Fan

[A friend of mine on Facebook, posed a question about why one might be a fan of one team but not another; the following was my reply. I kind of liked it, so I reproduced it here (oh, and just for context, I'm a Yankee fan)]

Ah. What makes someone a fan of team A and not team B...one of life's eternal questions.

For me, I think it was two things: First of all, I became aware of baseball in 1961, when there WERE no Mets. The other thing, as time went on, was the fact that the Mets were sort of the suburban team, the urban redneck team; they played way out in Queens, almost Long Island, out where city folks had run to to escape the changing demographics. It was the whole, "Well you can't go to Yankee Stadium, it's in the SOUTH BRONX!!!" thing.

Later, of course, as they became successful again (remember, they won no pennants between '64 (when I was 7) and '76 (when I was nineteen and in my senior year at Columbia) the Yankees had become a strange amalgam of NY high class and distinct urban funk while the Mets had remained, well, the Mets. The former, for many reasons was more attractive.

The Dodgers played their last game in Brooklyn right about the time I turned nine months old, 
so my only connection to them was that the greed of O'Malley had stolen what should have been a significant part of my youth -- and the soul of the place of my birth. Strangely, as I cried my way through the '63 World Series sweep, the old relatives would say, "What's wrong....the home team's winning!"

Also a quick note - both of my uncles on my mother's side, Brooklyn boys both, were Giants fans.

In early days I was a Jets fan; I liked the "upstart" nature of the AFL. Once they lost that and became more part of the Mets kind of universe, I went to the Giants.

The main thing about it, though, is that the beauty of being a sports fan is rather like the beauty of playing the game -- it's the most important thing in the world and utterly meaningless at the same time.

...but despite the fact that intellectually I know well what George Steinbrenner and now, his sons represent, the NY and the pinstripes just brings me back to first seeing them on 
the old black and white and then on the hallowed departed grounds (7/28/62) in full flesh and color against what seemed like more green than I'd ever seen...

In these times of performance enhancing drugs, billion dollar franchises and centimillionaire ballplayers can I justify it? Of course not. Fortunately, I don't have to.

I can sit back and share the same thing with my boys that my father shared with me...times at the ballpark watching some improbable occurrence or another, great performance or unimaginable blunder, times in front of televisions or by the radio either cheering for or yelling at men who can't hear you trying to do their jobs, playing a game at a level I never could -- at least if you exclude my dreams, day- or otherwise.

Does that sum it up?

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