You’re not a Yankee fan: Are you? When I called my wife of almost twenty-eight years for our second date, that’s what she asked me. The phone was on my bosses’ desk, he smiled and there were giggles, because everyone heard my response, which was immediate. “Bite your tongue, I’m a Mets fan.” In a Boston office, that is greeted well.
Well, for a New Englander, the Mets were the other league. This was 1983 and pre Interleague play. The National League hadn’t mattered in Boston since the two New York National League teams were called Dodgers and Giants.
My parents grew up as Brooklyn Dodgers fans, and always told me the National League was superior to the American. I kept my mouth shut and didn’t ask about the Yankee dynasty.
Mom warned me about mixed marriages (I’m Jewish, she’s Irish, but it isn’t what you’re thinking. I was going to learn what mixed marriage meant).
At first, it was marital bliss, until… The 1986 Mets-Red Sox World Series. It wasn’t like Interleague games now. This was the big thing.
We were living in Virginia at the time. Our neighbors would take bets on who would sleep on the porch every night.
I understand Bill Buckner wanting to play that night and his courage to play through the pain. I understand Manager John McNamara taking a chance and playing him even though he probably shouldn’t have.
Not my wife Elaine. Twenty-six years later, even with two World Series victories since and the Curse of the Bambino being broken, she is still bitter.
She wanted a Salem Witch style trial, conviction and hanging from the Citgo Sign behind Fenway Park. A bit like Henry the VIII of England fastening his enemies heads on London Bridge. It would make becoming a Sox Manager tough. He is on the field, talking with the General Manger when being interviewed for the position. “What happens if we lose a tough series?” The General Manager points grimly to the Citgo sign. A bit like the ancient ball game played by Aztecs and Mayas. The losers were led up a Pyramid and sacrificed to the Gods.
The Mets are too new to have the Red Sox history. We still have our strangeness. As Sports Illustrated columnist Phil Taylor wrote about the Madoff scandal, Mets fans are accustomed to the bizarre. I think we fit New York City more than the Yankees do. We are more like Sox fans than Yankee fans.
Elaine rolls her eyes when I put a political spin on the Red Sox. I tell her, the Irish in Boston can identify with long suffering. The Yankees are the English Milords, The Sox the maltreated Irish. Winning the World Series in ’04 and ’07 are her version of the Easter Rebellion in 1916. (Sorry, it’s the history buff in me). She said winning in ’04 did take the sting out of turning fifty.
We live in Tucson now. She is always asked if I’m a Yankee fan. “Not married to me!” is her retort.
I need a shirt that says, “Just because I grew up in New York City doesn’t mean I’m a Yankee fan.” Elaine wants a shirt saying “Not married to me, he’s not.”