My friends all think I'm gay because I don't know very much of anything about sports. It's not my fault; when I was a kid my Dad focused more on music. Don't get me wrong, I did play little league and football and I wrestled, but I never had the passion for it that I did for music. It was not uncommon to hear me ask, "Wait, is this fifth down?" during a football game. Even when I played football I was known locally as "The King of Off-sides." As you can see, the situation was dire for me.
But this year I decided to do something about my sports idiocy. I wanted so bad to sit around with my friends and say, "yeah, sure, Manny's got a good bat, but his fielding is shit," and have them actually listen. This year, I decided, I would watch the baseball playoffs" and damn it, I would understand them!
Now, I live in the Bronx" yes, the same as the Bronx Bombers. Therefore, I have little choice but to be a Yankee fan. I grew up in Connecticut, so I technically could go for Boston, but I can't turn my back on my home city. That having been established, I consulted my roommate Matt, a diehard Yankee fan, to help get me up to speed. If you think you are a bigger fan than he, listen to this: Matt would perform felatio on A Rod if it would guarantee that Curt Shilling (Red Sox pitcher) got hit in the face by a line drive. My other roommate, Tim, is a diehard Boston fan, so tensions were high.
I dug into baseball like a fat guy digs into cheesecake. I absorbed statistics, player's names and all sorts of pitches. I pestered Matt with questions about the Yankees: "What does A Rod stand for?", "How do the catcher's knees not hurt?", and "what is that white line leading from home to first mean?" Matt graciously taught me all he could. He told me what a sinker was (hint: it has nothing to do with taking a heavy dump) and he taught me about ground rule doubles, hoppers, knuckleballs, strike zones and, best of all, why every Red Sox player "is a total fucking asshole."
By game 3, I was talking like a pro. My friends still didn't take me seriously when I made comments, but at least I sounded like I knew what I was saying. I still hung on to some of my idiocy such as referring to the guy who stands on the side of the field and catches foul balls as the "foulbaseman." The more games I watched, the more I got into it. By game 4, it was like a drug. I would come home and twitch anxiously until the game was on. By game 5, I had nicknames for all the players (Olerude: helmet Harry. Tony Clark: The Pharaoh. Gary Sheffield: The Lion). The nicknames were more because I couldn't remember their names, but it certainly added to my developing fandom.
I started to think critically about the Boston/New York rivalry. I observed Tim in his "Believe in Boston" shirt and felt bad for him. When your team loses so often that your motto has to be "Believe," it's sad. It puts a Boston World Series win up there with the Easter Bunny and Santa; you have to believe that it could, maybe, be possible. Matt, on the other hand, sat like a king on his throne. When the Yankees would lose a game, he would throw things and scream" that was sad as well. I could see his mind reaching a wall when it tried to understand how a team with most of the best players on it and a massive payroll could lose. "But" they're the Yankees," his brain seemed to be saying, "how did they lose?"
When the Yankees fell miserably in game 7, I was upset. Something I had invested so much energy and time into was over. My team had failed" and failed horribly at that. I tried to tell myself that I was angry because the game wasn't even good. "If the Yankees had played a little better, I wouldn't be so depressed that they lost." I said. But the truth was I had become a fan. I knew it the instant Damon hit that grand slam and I felt my stomach sink.
So, I guess I am a fan now. I slightly know what is happening and I will probably watch the World Series and actually enjoy it this time. It's sad that the Yankees won't be playing in it this year but, as Matt pointed out to me, it's not the end of the world. "Plus," he added, "the Yankees will just buy all the good players for next year." I think I picked the right team to like. So, to hell with all you Boston fans" GO YANKEES (next year)!!!!