A New York Yankee in Big Papi’s Court
Baseball season is upon us, and frankly I can’t be bothered to watch games this early in the season. It goes on forever, right? But as I was reading Boston.com looking for marathon updates, I saw this funny essay on raising a child in a household of divided loyalties: one parent a Yankees fan, and one a Red Sox fan. It made me think of a similar situation we have at our house. The family in the essay is doing battle within their household (with the mom fighting the good, Yankee fight), but at least they’ve got one parent rooting for the hometown team. In our house, it’s us against the world – my husband and I are both Yankee fans in New England. So what do we do with our kids, born in shouting distance of the Green Monstah?
Let me start by getting something off my chest that I’ve been holding in since I moved to Boston eleven years ago. Hey Sox fans: if any of you clowns moved to New York, would you burn your Nomar jersey and become Yankees fans? NO, RIGHT? So WHY, in the name of Mickey Mantle and all things that are good, do you act so surprised when I tell you that I’m still a Yankees fan? You can drop all the tsk-tsking and get over it! It’s not going to happen!
I may not watch every game, but I will always consider myself a Yankees fan. I’m from New York. My father is a Yankee fan. My grandfather was a Yankee fan – in Brooklyn, the heart of Dodgers territory back in the day. So after all that he went through, treading the streets of Red Hook with pinstripes in his heart, so that his children and grandchildren could root for whichever team they chose, regardless of geography, I’m supposed to abandon my hometown team? I don’t think so.
I know people that have switched loyalties upon moving here, and that’s cool. Your choice. It was especially fine before Boston won all these championships and still had the poetry of the perennial underdog. There was something romantic about that, I grant you. But now, they’ve got tons of championship money and they’re willing to spend it – just like the “Evil Empire’ that Sox fans have so reviled for doing exactly the same thing. Not so cute anymore, is it?
My husband is from Hartford, which is right on the front line the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry, exactly halfway between New York and Boston. He’s a Yankee fan, his brother is a Red Sox fan. Again, a lifetime of fighting adversity, and he’s supposed to give it up, just like that?
It was easier when we first moved here, when the Sox’s series drought was still at its very driest. But since 2007, I’ve had to watch duck boat parade after duck boat parade. I’ve even had to watch members of the New England Patriots chant “Yankees suck” at post-Super Bowl rallies (by the way, same goes for football – I spent my childhood going to Giants games, and now I’m supposed to switch on account of Tom Brady’s baby blues or Wes Welker’s mustache?).
But this is about the boys. What do we do with them? Within our house, it’s fine. When we watch baseball, when we talk baseball, we root for the Yankees. We got a bit of Red Sox garb when each of our sons was born. I appreciated the gifts, but that stuff went straight to charity. My son, C, has a Yankees cap, but I don’t let him walk the streets in it – yet. And I’ll tell you right now – their first baseball game is going to be in the Bronx.
But C is going to start kindergarten next year. Baseball is going to be a topic of discussion, just like it was when I was in school. There was constant debate in our school, which was evenly divided between Mets and Yankees fans (unfortunately, when I was in school, only the Mets won a World Series – at least Yankee and Boston fans can agree that that’s lame).
At first, my viewpoint was defiance. I’m not raising a sheep! I thought. I’m not going to encourage him to root for the Red Sox just so he’ll fit in at school! He’s his own man! Let him be different! Let him be proud!
But then I thought, yes, he is his own (little) man. And even though, in a strange way, I think of him as being from Long Island because that’s where I grew up, he’s from (gulp) Boston. The home of the bean and the cod. Where the – how does the rhyme go? where the Youkilises speak only to Manny, and Manny speaks only to God? What? Manny got traded? Oh.
So like I’ll have to let my boys go in a thousand ways over their lifetimes, I think their dad and I will just have to let go, and let them choose their own teams, when, and if, they want to. And whatever they want will be fine. Yankees, Red Sox, Devil Rays. Whichever way they want to go.
Right now, C still has no clue about baseball, but here’s an indication of how it might go: in his nursery school, they used to “sign in” by voting, placing little stickers with their names on them on a board, choosing A or B. On opening day, the Red Sox were meeting the Yanks. The choice was – you guessed it. C’s choice was – you guessed it. The Sox.
Et tu, my son? Well, I think I still have time to prepare some stats and cogent arguments, and get to your little brother.