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Giving a damned Yankee his due

“So, where are they playing next—Wrigley or Yankee Stadium?”

To which the reply was “Uh, look, I gotta go, ‘cause Wrigley ain’t in Boston and you’re killing me.”

Or so purported a good friend who then quickly hung up yesterday afternoon, after I had irked him into a shiver with my deplorable ignorance of sports trivia (“knowledge” would accredit this vicarious frivolity all too readily.)

I had a good hearty chuckle over this, this bit of blissful contention long tendered between my male friends and me.

In high school, twenty years ago come next June, my best friend and I used to likewise have a good laugh at how out of touch I was with the male rites of this seasonal religion. For while he devoutly read and memorized the sports page every morning, I devoured and analyzed the front page. Ultimately, as we were complementary opposites in many respects, we got along famously. Moreover, at heart, despite our inconsequential differences, we were still common men coming-of -age who comprehended each other inordinarily well, otherwise. We remain best of friends till this day, and as males will do, keep in touch by calling each other about twice a year to chortle and blurt, “Whassssup?”

Anyway, the spear I had chucked at my colleague’s sensibilities pointedly speaks of the usual shocked reaction I get from “fans.” Sometimes, it almost feels as if I threaten them somehow with my ignorance—

“For real? What? You a fag or sumthin’?”

“Unh, no. I’m just much more apt to actually pick up a ball and throw it, then to sit down and watch it being thrown.”

Ten years ago, I once wrote as a self-deprecating ode to myself, “….proud to not know who won the Stanley Cup, World Series, and the Superbowl. Resigned to never be an armchair athlete.” A decade has passed, and alas, despite the guffaws and the grief I still get, I still hold true to this belief, and most importantly—practice.

The matter so risibly speaks to what ails this country—the lethargy of the body and the mind, an unwholesome and blind lack of discipline that leads to unbelievable “culture” like reality TV. Yikes, just give them a big bowl of ice cream and a ladle and you’ve got yourself a super stuppored audience ready-made for primetime commercialism and conformity.

Please forgive my runaway rant and arrogant slant on this oh-so revered preoccupation of some. Point is, I just wish there were more of me sometimes (and many times I don’t), people who actually don’t care to follow and watch sports—other than an occasional match mundial or something a little less patriotic, and a little more worldly, like fútbol for instance (¡Gol! ¡Gol! ¡Gooooo!!!!)

Granted, I should not complain, as it makes scouring the landscape for like-minded people so much easier. ‘Cause when I come across those who attempt to appeal to the male species with their vigorous team spirit or trite tantalizations like “I’m a Yankees fan…how about you?” I rely on my prejudice to turn the other cheek and walk away from the glow of the broadcast, toward the glimmer of radiant twilight twinkling just beyond the window.

Last year, at this time, when I was negotiating a contract with the same restaurant I was at yesterday, our staff attorney was with me to help close the deal. As we waited at the bar, he asked about some game or other and I once again professed, with my best Colonel Klink, “I know noth-ing…about it.” His eyes opened wide and he said, “Really? Sports is such a great ice-breaker, how do you find anything to talk about?”

I laughed, grinning, “Oh, I have my ways of making you talk Herr Rechtsanwaltratratgeber…

And lo and behold, as much of a miracle as it might have been, we actually conversed about something other than football (American), baseball or basketball for the next quarter of an hour while we waited for the GM.

In fact, the last time I cared about baseball was in little league when I was intrigued enough to collect baseball cards, as well actually play the game. And because I had earned free tickets for being a “super student,” I enthusiastically went to Giant’s games with my father when stadiums were named after teams and not corporations.

Alas, as this time passed, I grew up and found other things to occupy my time with.

So, while everyone in Chicago (ooops, I mean Boston…I think) and New York were glued to their teles all week long and coming into work all beary-eyed just to kvetch that the spirit of baseball had forced them to stay up, I was seemingly the one guy who was immersed in the pleasure of euphony attuned to my tastes and the blissful harmony of words as rendered by astute minds, including my own. Point being, while others gleaned happiness from “participating” vicariously in a national pastime, I was inclined to indulge in an avocation fashioned by my idiosyncrasies, and not one accustomed to the masses. I dare say, mine was truly the more satisfying of the two.

Last night I asked out of sheer curiosity I asked a stranger watching the game from outside the window peering into a pub, “So this is last game of the World Series?”

“You’re kidding, right?”

“No, actually I’m not…” and walked away equally thrilled and scared of the look on his face, truly hoping it was, so that all the ballyhoo might be over.

Quite predictably, the very first thing I overheard in the locker room this morning was “So, how ‘bout them Yanks?” Which was lamentably followed by, “Yeah, I was surprised. They should have put in so and so…” As if. As if these guys could better manage the best…and the worst managed teams in baseball history. Although I realize that it just a matter of conversation, blathering simply to be cordial and social, I need to ask—why bother? Because this vicarious venting is just so pathetically void of merit, just like political pundits who poke at “politicians” even though they speak from a pedestal that keeps their feet above the mire of putting it all into practice.

Only because I had buttered him up earlier this week by telling him how much I admired that he put what he preached into practice, did I taunt Dr. J, the chief doctor in residence and an avid Yankees fan, by asking him, “So, did you turn in early or did you actually stay up vying for a miracle?” He smiled and replied warily, “No, I actually tried to get some sleep last night for the first time in a week. Alas, as I was on call, I got a call at one in the morning. And that pretty much ended my wishful sleeping.”

And truth be told, as of this morning and the penning of this piece, I still am not entirely certain if it was the Red Sox, White Sox or Cubs—Boston, Chicago?

And incredulous as it might seem, I really don’t know, and quite frankly my dear, I also don’t give a damned Yankee either.

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