As the daughter of two people from New York (Mum from The City, Dad from upstate [Syracuse, which is respectably upstate, not just 10 minutes outside The City]), it couldn't be helped. The Yankees and their evil empire used to be my team. Actually, it was really the Mets. Mum had been a Dodgers fan until that sad, sad day many years ago, so the Mets it was, with a little bit of the Yankees thrown in. Then the fam moved to Jersey, 20 minutes away from the Sovereign Bank Arena, home of the Trenton Thunder, one of the minor league feeder teams for the NY Yanks - it was all downhill from there.
Let me make it clear at this point that I am NOT from New Jersey (despite what my license plate may say). I only lived there 2 years and hated almost every minute of it.
Continuing on, it wasn't until I moved myself up to Western Mass. that I really understood what this whole baseball thing was about. I mean, I liked watching a game or two on T.V. I've played softball since I was about 9 years old. Fourth of July for me means sitting in a stadium eating a hot dog, cheese fries, soft pretzle, and ice cream, watching the fireworks go off to a cheesy soundtrack after watching at least 9 innings of ball.
But these Massachusetts Sox fans were something different.
It was a slow conversion. I found myself the only NY fan in the room while watching the 2003 series (I decided to keep quiet, fearing for my life). In 2004, I was feeling a touch of Sox fever, but was still holding out. When '06 rolled around, at least 2 Red Sox girlfriends (my mother had some choice words about that, let me tell ya) and one Johnny Damon-hatred later, I was finally starting to see the error of my ways. And by the time I graduate college in '07, and I made the firm decision to call the Happy Valley my home, my parents had given up all hope.
(No, really, they sent me a shoebox and a Red Sox hat. The hat had the word "TRAITOR" written across it in black permanent marker. The shoebox was for me to send back my Yankees hat so they could give it a proper burial. Let's just say I come by my sense of the dramatic honestly.)
I've never looked back. How could I with hottie Native Jacoby Ellsbury speeding around bases and holding his own in the outfield? With Tek's tree-trunk thighs and bodacious butt to swoon over every other game? Pap's Scottish jig of some kind? YOOOOOOUK? And let's not forget the love between Big Papi and Little Peedie (as Dustin Pedroia is affectionately known in my circles). Sigh. I really had no choice. I'm sure you understand.
I'll tell you one thing though, that I never could quite cotton-with, and that was Manny's "Manny being Manny" attitude. I'm sorry, but my belief in this is one of the main reasons I switched teams - you can be a "name," you can be a star, you can and should have your own personality, but when you're on that field, you PLAY THE GAME FOR THE TEAM. It's all about the team! And if you're not out there to give your 100% in helping the rest of your teammates, then you have no busines being on that field. This was one of my frustrations with the Yanks - they're a bunch of superstars out there, each playing in their own little universe. I just don't see the team cohesion. With the Sox, it's clearly there. Look at the hugs, the head rubs, the butt slaps, etc. But Manny? Run it out, Manny, it's a freaking ground ball! I'm not saying he wasn't a part of the team when he wanted to be, and yeah, he gave his all when it suited him, and of course, he's a really good player when he sets his mind to it (are you getting the point of my qualifiers in there?). But his attitude left a little something to be desired for me. Feel free to disagree, I'm sure you have your own opinion and you're welcome to share it.
So what's with all this ranting and raving? I'll tell you. I was driving to work the other morning and caught part of an interview on the radio. I don't know what station (sorry!), but it was with the author of a new book coming out called Becoming Manny. Psychologist Dr. Jean Rhodes was being intervied on air, and boy did those radio boys rip her up and down! It was great to hear.
Becoming Manny by Jean Rhodes and Shawn Boburg, foreword by Leigh Montville
Hardcover coming out in March '09
Now I have not read the book yet myself (it comes out next month), but from what these radio hosts were insinuating, this book is not only a life and times of, but a list of excuses for one Mr. Manny Ramirez. Granted these talk show hosts are Red Sox fans, and assuredly NOT fans of the way Manny handled his recent team change, so the show was, of course, slightly skewed. Yet, it piqued my interest enough that you can bet I will be picking up a copy of this to read during my lunch breaks next month. You should too, and then tell me what you think.
As an aside, one book about baseball I really enjoyed reading was Three Nights in August by Buzz Bissinger. This is about the rivalry between the Cardinals and the Cubs. One of my favorite lines is when Buzz stresses the difference between the (in his eyes) stronger, longer running, and more legitimate feud between the Cubs and the Cards, and the rivalry between the Sox and the Yanks. He says about that latter rivalry:
That's a pair of bratty high-priced supermodels trying to trip each other in their stilettos on the runway.
I'm imagining Lugo in drag. Thank you for that image, Buzz, thank you.
Three Nights in August by Buzz BissingerLastly, you know where I'll be Feb. 25th. On my couch with NESN on, watching the first televised game of the season. For the Sox game schedule, click here. Y'all are welcome to join me.
Paperback: 9780618710539, $13.95
Paperback: 9780618710539, $13.95