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Baseball Identity Crisis

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Born in the Bronx, I lived all over New York State until 1988, when I moved to the SF Bay Area. I’ve never lost my New York accent—in fact, it’s intensified—and I never gave up rooting for the Yankees. Until now.

Ever since the firing of Joe Torre and the demise of George (“Evil Emperor”) Steinbrenner, I’ve grown increasingly frustrated, angry, and disgusted with the NY Yankees. It’s not just because their playing went downhill; I am not a “fair weather fan.” It’s because I can’t stand Torre’s successor, Joe Girardi, and disagree with most of his decisions; and because the Steinbrenner kids who are running things don’t give a shit about the team as long as the money keeps pouring in. These changes have resulted in more frequent player turnover: management doesn’t care enough to hold on to good players the way Torre and George S. did. To top things off, during the past four or five years several of the best, most beloved players retired, including Jorge Posada, Andy Pettit, Mariano Rivera, and Derek Jeter (the Core Four, who played together for 16 years, longer than any other group in any sport).

English: Jorge Posada (#20, left) with Mariano...

Jorge Posada (#20, left) with Mariano Rivera (middle) and Derek Jeter (right) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While the Yankees were deteriorating, the SF Giants, post-Barry Bonds, kept winning World Series. They cohered into a rowdy team of individual eccentrics. Bruce Bochy is today considered the best manager in MLB. His core philosophy is like the old Yankee credo: hang on to good players to grow a tight and stellar working team. Living in their territory, it made perfect sense for me to become a Giants fan, and at the close of the 2014 season, with SF once again World Champions, I decided to make the move.

I reiterate: I am not a “bandwagon fan,” or a “fair weather fan.” I made this decision based on logic and geography. Following the Giants, I can see their games and read about them in the local paper, while Yankees’ televised games are few and far between. Because there’s no time change, the games reach me earlier in the day. Another bonus: at the Giants stadium there’s a back fence where they actually allow viewers to stand and watch three innings of the game for free; I’ve done it several times.

So here we are at the start of the 2015 season. I watched the Yankee opener on Monday, mainly to see Joe Torre throw the ceremonial pitch. I listened to the first two Giants games on radio. And I am deeply into an identity crisis. The whole thing feels weird. I am still, after all these years, a displaced New Yorker, a girl from the Bronx, and I’m not sure I’ll manage this transition. But I’m determined to try.



5 responses »

  1. For some reason I thought that you were going to say you were now a Mets fan. Delusioonal, I know… but I can’t imagine baseball anywhere but in Queens or, of course, Brooklyn.

  2. how about my team, the RAYS. So much turnover during the winter, I hardly know any players. I probably won’t take the 3 hour drive to see them this season.

  3. What team you like or your community is part of your identity? I simply don’t go there. How can so many strangers be a part of you identity?

    People identify according to ethnicity, gender, etc. Those include an awful lot of strangers.–MS

  4. An interesting perspective on symbolic memberships. Especially given that sports teams in the present U.S. constellation are corporate entities, with players’ lives so far from any experience accessible to us ‘fans.’ I am, in fact, a “bandwagon fan.” I watch the team or teams whose players appeal to me (like having a ‘favorite’ actor or writer). When a team has a big personnel turnover, I’m outta there. I was a big 49ers and SF Giants fan when I lived in the bay area, but when the 49ers threw out Ronnie Lott and then Merton Hanks, and finally Jerry Rice, I became disconnected. (And now have moved out of state. And they began to lose.)…
    in the end that will always, I suspect, be my gauge: Joyful playing of individuals I recognize. Happy ‘playful’ players.
    And it’s all so much weird psychology that I can’t fully account for it. Symbolic winning and losing. Related to the macho “America, #1” mentality? I think so. Related to “Christianity the one true religion; onward Christian soldiers:” mentality? (Or substitute “Islam,” “Mormonism,” etc.) I think so.
    But aren’t we all a mess of contradictions! Life is about enjoying, relieving suffering, and trying to obtain a little wisdom before we leave anyway.
    Fun to read your thoughts about this.

  5. I stumbled on your post just today — as the season winds down and the Yankees are somehow, some way, in the first Wild Card, and the Giants are just playing out the season so they can get on to fishing or hunting or golf or whatever it is they do when they’re not doing this. I hope you’ll give us your post-season perspective. I’m really glad to have found your blog. So good!

    Thanks so much Bloggess! It’s ironic that the Yankees are in and the Giants are out. At this point I am schizophrenic!

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