Loyalty – whether to family, friends, pets, sports,
anything – is everything. But nothing is as intense as the Yankees and
Red Sox rivalry. Lasting over ninety-five years, it is almost instinct
to hate one team or the other. Now, for me, I’m a Yankees fan. But when
I lived in Boston five years ago, that was about as rebellious as you
could get, walking around with navy blue pinstripes. But that was how I
was. Even when I was going to my first Red Sox game, I still wore my
pinstripes. Because it just so happened that my first Red Sox game was
also going to be my first Yankees game.
Heart pumping, adrenaline rushing, I rode the train into Central Boston
– the feeling of the towering skyscrapers, people rushing about, and the
anticipation of baseball about to be played was swimming through the
air. I felt like my stomach was going to burst; the butterflies must
have been throwing a party down there. Just the sensation of being able
to be in the same city as so many of my heroes – Derek Jeter, A-Rod (not
any more), and Robinson Cano – was unbelievable. And stepping into the
stadium for the first time—wow. It. Was. Beautiful. For a
ninety-six-year-old stadium, Fenway Park looked great. The smell of hot
dogs and hamburgers and popcorn filled me with the sense that I was
floating on the purest cloud of white, drifting through the air without
a whisper of a thought. Crazy. Of course, I was attracting some looks,
too. Not just quick glances, but full on, burning-through-the-soul
glares that made me feel small and alienated. Now, being a kid, I
started to get worried. Would they hurt me? Hurt my dad? Pour beer,
Gatorade, and water on me even though I probably wouldn’t mind and it
would be awesome? Well, it’s not like I was trying to hide the fact that
I was a Yankees fan, wearing a bright, white, pinstriped jersey and
dark, velvety, navy hat. But needless to say, those stares were nothing
compared to what would happen once we found our seats.
As an eight year old, I never realized how pinheaded people could be
with sports in the balance. No, they would never insult a kid, but my
dad was definitely fair game. At least to them.
“How could you raise your son that way?”
“You’re not a real human being!”
It’s not like they were kidding. They were bloodthirsty hawks, trying to
get their prey to come out of their den. The chants grew louder, their
feet stomped stronger, and I didn’t understand any of it. I mean, it is
just a game, right? Nope. This was life or death, the rivalry. I didn’t
know why, and I was just so confused. And yet, still a little bit cocky.
You see, I have a special talent where I can get people to either back
off or get really mad.
So I used it.
No, I didn’t say “Stop it!” in a cute, little kid voice. I didn’t say
“You’re all meanies!” and start tearing up.
Instead, with my audacity growing, I turned around, smiled my
eight-year-old smile – braces and all – and kissed my jersey – my pearl,
glowing, pinstriped jersey – right on the patch. And believe me; they
shut up pretty fast after that.
You know, I didn’t really care what those beer slobbing, peanut hurling,
and grammatically incorrect chanting fans did. Sure, in the end the
Yanks lost 0-7, but I didn’t care about that. I don’t care about
winning. That’s why I’m a Sixers fan. But seriously, I stick with the
Yankees because I’m loyal. I stick with my team. Whether they finish
last in league, first in the league, middle, whatever; I’m there.
Because loyalty – whether to family, friends, pets, sports, anything –