I started out as just a Yankees fan. Back when I started watching baseball, in the early nineties, I had no desire to watch any game that did not involve my guys. If the Yankees weren’t in the playoffs, I wasn’t interested – who were all those people? I didn’t care what happened to them. I found out about important players on other teams during Yankee broadcasts, or when the Yankees played those teams, or not at all. I knew about as much about the National League as I did about synchronized swimming,
I guess that started to change in college, when thanks to a close freshman-year friend I watched a bunch of Mets games (this being 1999, they ended in agony and heartbreak). I would subsequently consider watching a Mets game if there weren’t any Yankees to be had. Fantasy baseball, which I haven’t done for a few years but enjoyed for a long while, was another expansion: I guessed if there was nothing else on, I might as well check out the Astros game and see how my guy Willie Taveras was doing (you laugh, but that guy was a sleeper pick in 2004. And never again).
The real leap, though, was when I started writing about baseball. I couldn’t be the subjective fan I used to be if I wanted anyone to take me seriously. But more to the point, I wanted to know everything that I could – I wanted to be knowledgeable and informed. And as I’m sure many of you are well aware, baseball is a great, great way to feed an obsessive streak. Even if you were to spend your entire life on it, there’d be much more to learn than you’d ever have time to digest. I’ve spent years and years catching up on the baseball I missed (whether because of my early disinterest in other teams, or because of my not having been born yet), but there is zero danger of my ever running out of material.
I bring this up because, while ten-plus years ago I would have been sad that I had no baseball to watch today, now I’m cheerfully typing with the Phillies-Houston game on in the background. I’m more looking forward to tonight’s Mets game, and more still to tomorrow’s Yankee game. But I’m just happy to have baseball, just like I was happy to watch the playoffs in 2008 despite their glaring lack of New York teams, to get a fix of a few more weeks. Twelve years ago if you’d told me I could only watch Yankees games, or only watch every other baseball game, I would’ve had a pretty easy choice. It’d still be easy now, but in the opposite direction. Turns out the Yankees were an excellent gateway drug.