Can’t we all just get along? Not when it’s time for the New York version of the Civil War. This weekend is Yankees and Mets, rounds 1, 2, and 3 as those from the Queens, NY, pay a visit to Yankee Stadium to play the Bronx Bombers. Midnight Blue versus Royal (aka – Dodger) Blue. New York versus New York, and round 1 will go to – New York.
For about ten years now, Major League Baseball’s interleague play has treated fans to a respite from the normal grind of 162 games after games after games. The focal point of interleague play is what can be called baseball’s “natural rivalries,” when two teams square off against each other because their respective cities are close or relatively close enough that their fans are decently mixed amongst each other. You’ve got Baltimore against DC, Oakland against San Francisco, the Angels play the Dodgers, Cleveland versus Cincinnati, Chicago hosts the Cubs and the White Sox, St. Louis plays Kansas City, Minnesota fights Milwaukee, and a few other teams of not such close distance will play against each other just because there’s nowhere else for them to go. Although there is great historical interest when Philadelphia plays Boston, all eyes are on New York and New York.
The part that I can’t understand is why there seems to be this illogical logic that if you love one New York team, then you must hate the other. On WFAN, New York’s real sports radio (because Espn Radio doesn’t yet have a feel for the city), the callers are going to clap for their team while bashing on the other. You’re not likely to hear “you suck” any more often than during interleague play. What I don’t understand is why we are supposed to hate those who should be considered our brothers. Why must callers on the WFAN praise the Yankees and then trash the Mets? Why the reverse? As a Yankee fan, I consider the Mets my brothers. I recently told someone that I hope the Mets win every game they play throughout the whole season – except the six games they play against the Yankees. When both teams are playing well, the city is alive with baseball talk. It’s quite boring when one team stinks and the other is covered with roses.
I don’t care that I’m clearly in the vast minority on this one, but maybe it’s because I do have a connection. I remember being at a family birthday party in 1969 when I was 7-years old. Back then most family birthday parties had the kids in the basement playing games while the adults were upstairs drinking and playing cards. I went upstairs for something, probably soda, and saw my uncle glued to a 13-inch black and white television in the kitchen. I asked, “Whatcha watching?” He said, “History.” Then he proceeded to tell me specifically why the ’69 Mets were called “The Miracle Mets.” For the next few years I followed the Mets and can still recall their starting lineup from the early 70’s.
When I was getting ready to go to my first Little League tryout, I grabbed my glove and a Mets hat. My mother asked, “Where’d you get that hat?” “My uncle,” I said. She said, “No no. Yankee hats in this house.” Then she proceeded to tell me about Uncle Tony, who had been invited out of high school to try out for the Yankees but had his foot run over by a truck as he crossed the street to Yankee Stadium. I didn’t have a Yankee hat, she wasn’t letting me wear a Mets hat, so I went to the Little League tryouts with an old hat of the Houston Colt 45’s, the team the would later become the Houston Astros.
Shortly after, my mother gave me my first Yankee hat to match the uniform of my Little League team. Although I was lucky enough to get selected by the Yankees, and wearing #1, I’m pretty sure I would have gotten that hat anyway.