A father and son are supposed to share some vital interests. It must be a violation of some natural law that a father and son don’t root for the same baseball team. As some who have followed my blog might remember I am a passionate Baltimore Orioles fan when it comes to my favorite—and slowly becoming my only—sport, baseball. Outside of my family, my job, and my love of literature, baseball is the only interest that enters my head. Elegant beyond compare, nuanced in complexity, baseball is the game for those with an artist’s eye, with a poet’s ear, with a storyteller’s heart for drama. I love the game.
And it’s not important how I became an Orioles fan, though I’ll mention it. My father was an immigrant from Italy, and he had no notion of the game. It was not handed down to me, especially a team to root for. I guess being a lifelong New Yorker I could have gravitated to one of the New York teams. But I didn’t. Some kid named Benny Testa in second grade was an Orioles’ fan, and he convinced me to fight against all those Yankee and Met fans. I lost sight of Benny in the next grade and have no clue whatever happened to him. But at eight years old I latched onto the Baltimore Orioles and it has been a lifelong love, despite the many years of disappointments.
So you would expect my son to follow in rooting for the Baltimore Orioles, right? Well, unfortunately his mother is a Yankees fan, and she drilled in him the greatness of the Yankees. I figured I could slowly lure him away from the dark side—yes, the Yankees are evil—and I think I was beginning to, but what I didn’t count on was that Matthew’s best friend in school, J.J., is also a Yankees fan, and that is more powerful than anything I can do. I hate to say this, but my son Matthew is —shudder—a Yankees fan.
And he’s been cheering them when he hears the Yankees have won or the Orioles have lost. He keeps asking how many championships have the Yankees have won. Twenty-seven I think, averaging something like one every four years for the past hundred years. And those are the ones they’ve won; they’ve been in many a World Series and playoff where they did not go on to win it all. The Orioles in comparison have won three. Thank goodness this year the Orioles have been fighting for first place in their division while the Yankees have been either last or next to last. This is a potentially rare bad year for the Yankees. Still Matthew tries to verbally jab me when the Orioles lose. And I don’t like it. If he wants to be a Yankees fan, he should keep it to himself and not try to antagonize his father, who if antagonized too much might decide to give the child a swift spank on the butt.
So a few weeks ago he asked if I could buy him a Yankees hat. I sometimes wear my Orioles hat, and he wants one to counter me. “No,” I said. “I ain’t gonna buy you a Yankees hat. No way, I will never do that.”
After going back and forth in an effort to dissuade me, he finally turned into a pout. “Then I’ll get mommy to buy it or grandma. Or I’ll buy it with my own money.”
“Fine, but I ain’t buying it for you.”
Then as it happened I passed a stand on the street where a man was selling sports items, and I noticed a Yankees hat. I thought about buying it, but I didn’t. That night I said to Matthew, “Guess what I saw. Someone selling Yankees hats.”
“Did you buy me one?”
“Noooooo. I told you I don’t buy Yankees stuff.”
“Why?” he cried.
“Because it’s yucky. The Yankees are yucky.”
He just stared at me. “Oh yeah. The Orioles are yucky. The Orioles are yucky.”
So a week later I passed that same man selling baseball items on the street. I stopped and bought a Yankees cap. It hurt but I did. When I got home, I told him I had something for him.
“A Yankees hat.” I took it out and handed it to him. His eyes lit up.
“Thank you Daddy.”
“Don’t thank me. I didn’t buy it. I told you I would never buy that yucky stuff.”
“Then who bought it?”
“Nonna bought it.” Nonnna is Italian for Grandma and is what we call my mother. “Nonna made me stop the car and she bought you a Yankees hat when she heard you liked the Yankees.” I was lying of course. But he doesn’t need to know that. Here’s a picture of him in his Yankees hat, sticking his tongue out at Dad.
Ha, the little punk. At least the Orioles beat the Yankees two out of three this weekend.