"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Watching the Other Guys

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.

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1 Dimelo   ~  Apr 1, 2011 2:19 pm

Yeah I love watching baseball, it's even more fun watching the train-wreck from Queens. I'm looking forward to their game, too. I'm hoping they get blown out. Is that mean of me?

2 bp1   ~  Apr 1, 2011 2:58 pm

When I was a kid (70's), I really didn't have much choice. There was no YES, and in fact we didn't have cable in our house at all. I know - gasp! - we had one of those funky aerial antennas that you had to turn the dial inside the house to clear up the static. We had ABC, NBC, CBS (fuzzy out of Syracuse), and a local PBS station. That was it. FOX didn't even exist.

The highlight of the week was the MLB Game of the Week, and even the Monday Night Baseball games. I got to see a lot of the "We Are Family" Pirates, or the Steve Carlton and Mike Schmidt Phillies, Steve Garvey's Dodgers, or any of the real popular teams of the 70's. I knew the Dodgers starting lineup as well as any other team, and I could imitate Garvey's stiff approach at the plate to a tee.

I got drawn to the Yankees from my grandmother, who DID have cable and always seemed to have the Yankees on when I visited. I eventually found the local radio broadcast of Yankee games and that was that. I'd go to sleep at night with the voice of Phil, Frank, and Bill. By the time my folks got cable in the house, I was a full fledged Yankee fan, complete with hat and a ceramic lamp of Thurman Munson my Mom made at ceramics class (how 70's is that!).

Now baseball is almost a grind. I mean - I'm not complaining. It's fun to watch the story develop over those 162 games, but it is harder to be a casual fan with such limitless access. Baseball was very innocent in the beginning - not the all consuming thing it has become in the "oughts".

I love the Yankees, love the game, and I get as giggy about Opening Day as ever, but there are periods during the year where I just need to step away for awhile.

3 The Mick536   ~  Apr 2, 2011 8:25 am

In the early 50's, we went on a vacation to Virginia. I remember Williamsburg, Jamestown, battlefields, and sitting in a car without air conditioning. I got car sick. The motel we stayed at had the Game of the Week. When we returned to Stamford, CT, I couldn't get it on the television. I had to settle for WOR and WPIX which carried the Yankees, Giants, and Dodgers. I also had to deal with the Herald Tribune, Times, Journal, World Telegram, Daily News and Post. I love following the game. I dread the Hot Stove League. And didn't Tom Boswell say that "life begins on opening day?"

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver