Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My Life in Baseball

Yes, it's true, I have 2 loves. I'm hard-wired to love the Yankees; spent toddler time in the Bronx with grandparents, walking distance from the stadium, listening to radio games with Grandpa. My dad was NY Giants all the way; when they left, he left MLB. When I grew up, there were two major boyfriends who were major Yankee fans. One bought me my first cap, the other got me Ron Guidry's autograph. I wrote Mrs. Munson a sympathy note and I carry a Reggie Jackson pog in my wallet (because I can).

Now I'm in Ft. Lauderdale, where the Yankees and then the Orioles used to have Spring Training. Six bucks a seat, twelve to sit right behind home plate. Heaven. Now gone, both gone.

However, all Rays games (& Marlins -- eww!) games are telecast all over Florida. Yes, every game, which is how you get to know and love your players. Yankee games are not, except when ESPN deigns to cover them, or when they play the Rays, Marlins, Cubs or WhiteSox. Since 2009, Yankee games have been broadcast on local AM sports radio, so I've learned to love John & Suzan (at least on uncloudy nights).

But I've really gotten to know and love the Rays, pretty nearly the antithesis of the Yankees: unknown players, poorly paid, play in an indoor stadium in front of few fans. When Lou Pinella was managing the Devil Rays, I still felt connected to the Yankees (he was not a great manager there; I think working with young kids wasn't for him). Yankees moved to Legends Field in Tampa, so the connection stayed. We'd go to Tampa for Rays & Yanks spring training games, and when the Yankees came down to play the Rays.

We thought we were rooting for the Yankees, but a shift occurred when the Rays ownership turned over: they were now run by young, Jewish, former New York investment bankers (pre-crash), who secured players like they were picking their favorite lesser-known fantasy picks. They dropped the "devil" from the name, got a make-over for everything, stole Joe Maddon from Mike Scoccia and even signed Don Zimmer after Pedro played him.

So I get a little psycho when the Rays and Yankees play, but I also get double plus pleasure when Rays kill the Red Sox, as they have done many times in Fenway Park in the past couple of years. Killed Matsuzaka, killed Lester, killed Papelbone, even the side-armer Wakefield. It's a beautiful thing.

That's why it's so alarming that Carl went to Boston. I really wanted him to be an Angel. On the other hand, it's always been obvious that the action's in the AL East... it's where you want to be!

Sometimes I watch a Rays game with captions on & sound off so I can hear the Yankee game call. Yes. Nuts. True.