Friday, May 20, 2005

My Position on the Yankees

For years, being a Boston Red Sox fan meant two things: perennial disappointment and fostering an abiding hatred for the New York Yankees. The former condition has been alleviated considerably by a World Series victory after 86 years. The latter continues to persist. People here really hate the Yanks. To be a true Red Sox fan, you have to hate them. There is no middle ground, just like you can’t be a little pregnant. All or nothing, baby. Either you’re with us or against us. It’s us or them. Or so they say.

Before I continue, let’s get something straight: my credentials as a Red Sox fan speak for themselves. I was in the first bloom of baseball consciousness during the “Impossible Dream” season of 1967 and living through that magical time has probably helped shape my life. My favorite ballplayer was the shortstop, Rico Petrocelli, and I even summoned the nerve a couple of years ago to call a sports talk show to tell him that. I saw Carl Yazstremski have the greatest year ever for a ballplayer. I remember Billy Rohrer, pitching his first big league game, come within an out of a no-hitter at Yankee Stadium (broken up by Ellston Howard, who later in the season was traded to the Red Sox). I remember Tony C. getting beaned and Jose Tartabull’s throw to the plate. I remember Jerry Adair. Jerry Freaking Adair. Does anybody else remember Jerry Adair? I do. And how about Joe Foy? Oh yeah.

Let’s do the numbers. 1975: World Series against the Reds. Freddy Lynn, Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice, Bernie Carbo, Yaz, Luis Tiant. Pete Rose, Johnny Bench, Ken Griffey Sr., Ed Armbrister (the bastard!). Possibly the greatest World Series ever. 1978: a 14 game lead over the Yankees at the All Star break evaporates to a single, winner-take-all play-off game at the end of the season. Bucky Bleeping Dent, the deciding home run that would be an out in any other ballpark. 1986 World Series: Bill Buckner (although it wasn’t all his fault). 1991 ALCS: Roger Clemens with the eye black and Ninja Turtle shoelaces cussin’ out Terry Cooney, the homeplate umpire. 2003 ALCS: Grady Bleeping Little. Pedro shouldn’t have even started the eighth. And last year: Redemption! Hell Freezing Over! The Second Coming of Christ! Pigs Flying Everywhere! People Dying Happy!

I’ve been through the wars. I’ve followed the Sox through the good times and bad. I remember Cal Koonce. That’s right: Cal Koonce. And get this: with my tireless coaching, my youngest daughter’s first words were “Red Sox.” It’s true. Who else can do that? Huh? I’m asking you! Yeah. Thought so. So say what you want about me, I am a Red Sox fan and no one has the right to question it.

And yet . . . and yet I like the Yankees.

If I had no regional connection to any baseball team, I would probably follow the Yankees. They are always interesting. Start with their owner, George Steinbrenner, Mr. Type A. I’m still not sure if he’s a real person or an actor playing a part. This guy was born to own the Yankees. The bluster, the bombast, the deep pockets, the constipated look. When he dies and goes to heaven, his roommate will be Jake Ruppert. Casey Stengal will be their next door neighbor and Babe Ruth will crash on their couch once a week. And look at the Yankees’ history. All those championships. That’s hard to do, yet they did it so many times.

How about Reggie Jackson? Those three first pitch home runs in the World Series? Holy Moley! Goose Gossage? Mickey Rivers? (I loved that twitchy little guy.) And let’s all be honest for a moment: wouldn’t everybody rather have Derek Jeter as your shortstop over everyone else? A rhetorical question if ever there was one.

A former next door neighbor of mine was a big time Sox fan. She had a Red Sox license plate on her car and a sticker that read: Yankee Hater. I always wanted to ask her, why? Because they win all the time? Or is it because the Red Sox lose all the time? But the slogan I really take issue with is “Yankees Suck.” Because they do not suck. They are the opposite of suck. The Yankees are what the Canadiens were to hockey, the Celtics to basketball and the Cowboys to football. Only the Yankees continue to do it, while the other legendary franchises have faded away.

I am so glad the Yankees are the Red Sox’ chief rivals. There’s some Native American expression about how you can measure yourself by the caliber of your enemy and the Yankees fill that bill pretty well. It’s Jedi versus the Evil Empire, David versus Goliath, White Hat versus Black. Carlton Fisk versus Thurman Munson. Rico Petrocelli versus Joe Pepitone. Jim Lonborg versus Whitey Ford. Fred Astaire versus Gene Kelly. Tammy Wynette versus Dolly Parton. Frankenberry versus Count Chocula. It just doesn’t get any better.

8 Comments:

Blogger NYPinTA said...

"And yet . . . and yet I like the Yankees."
That's right.... come towards the light! ;)

1:17 PM  
Blogger trinamick said...

I must admit I'm a fan of both teams as well. But I'm also a Braves fan, so clearly my judgment is shot.

How about Patty Duke vs. Meredith Baxter? It'd be a Lifetime Movie Smackdown!

2:16 PM  
Blogger Henry said...

Trina--throw in some Justine Bateman as the abused girlfriend--and I'm there in the front row! I WANT MY BABY BACK!

Mr. Schprock---you are now my hero.
Great stuff-spoken like a ture sports fan that can get around all that "boston sucks" "yankees suck" stuff. I think everyone needs to realize that the yanks-sox rivalry is one of the best things about baseball!

9:00 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

"But I'm also a Braves fan, so clearly my judgment is shot."

The Braves began in Boston, trinamick. The circle is now complete.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

You write some really interesting posts.

I can relate to this. Where I'm from (Southern Illinois), we are all Cardinals fans. Our rivals are the Cubs. So I always had to hide my affection for the Cubs as my sentimental second-favorite. Come to think of it, you'd think I'd pick a better team to be my second-favorite.

Anyway, I just recommended you to the Complimenting Commenter. If you're complimented, you can put a button from their blog that says, "I've been complimented!"

-Bill
Master Yoda's Assistant

11:55 AM  
Blogger The Complimenting Commenter said...

That is a great and honest post. Very well done. To know all those players, you are a true fan. Enjoyable read.

12:14 PM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

Thanks, Bill! Thanks Mr. Complimenter sir!

7:00 AM  
Blogger mr. schprock said...

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7:00 AM  

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