It perplexes people who have known me for ages as well as my new friends who still bleed Yankee pinstripes. To them, I might as well be Benedict Arnold, Neville Chamberlain or the one who got Jesus nailed to a cross. We are talking serious issues here.
So, for all those who have asked me, “How the hell do you root for the Red Sox now?”, I will share my reasons as simply as possible, since I know Yankee fans can be a little bit slow when it comes to logic and reasoning (it’s because they listen to yahoo Yankee announcer John Sterling, the worst broadcaster in history).
But first, a little background: when I moved to the Bronx in 1976 from San Juan, I was already a huge baseball fan. The Pirates were my team…. for obvious reasons. Then my uncle took me to see Tom Seaver at Shea and I was hooked on NY baseball. I lived about 40 blocks from Yankee Stadium, down the Grand Concourse and of course, as a foolish and impressionable little boy, I became a Yankee fan.
It wasn’t hard: Phil Rizzuto, Willie Randolph, Craig Nettles, Ron Guidry, Goose Gossage, and yes, of course: REG-GIE., REG-GIE, REG-GIE! I was at the 1977 World Series game where Jackson hit the three homers against the Dodgers to win the title for the Bombers. I met Dimaggio and Mantle. I also watched a game once from Steinbrenner’s luxury suite. Then Don Mattingly came along, and I wanted to bat left-handed.
Fast forward to 1986. Freshman year, Harvard. Mets-Red Sox. I had always thought that Yankee fans were pretty loyal, but when I caught the Bill Buckner game with my roommates and when one of them threw their TV out the window into Harvard Yard after the Sox blew the Series, I was intrigued. Still a Yankee fan, but intrigued.
1988. I entered Fenway Park for the first time. Mind you, having gone to games in Yankee Stadium and at Shea, I had no idea that a heavenly place such as Fenway even existed. 10 beers later (I had a GREAT Fake ID from Alaska!), I was hooked. But I still rooted for the Yankees.
Then Mattingly retired in 1993 (or was it 1994, when the Rangers won the FREAKIN STANLEY CUP). At the same time some Mexican kid with a funny name started playing for the Red Sox. By then, I was paying for about 10 games at Fenway, at a time when you could still walk up to a ticket booth and buy bleacher seats for $10. Nomar Garciaparra was everything I loved in a baseball player: play hard and ask questions later. Soon, NOMAH became my mantra.
Enter a little Dominican pitcher named Pedro Martínez and all of a sudden, Fenway felt like Santo Domingo whenever he pitched. Meanwhile, the Yankees started feeling like Microsoft to me. Too rich. Too good. Too arrogant. Yes, I started fallen for the scorned lover.
2004. The year it became cool to say PAPI in Boston. Sure, Ortiz was on the juice, but for 48 hours in Boston when the Sox were down 3-0 to the Yankees (btw, AROD pickup annoyed the crap out of me), life in Boston was never better. People said hi on the train. Strangers held doors open for others. All because of the BIG PAPI.
Seeing my father-in-law shout for joy when the Sox won their first title since 1918 sealed it for me. Add another 2007 title and a ballpark that is about as good as it will ever be, and you have perfection.
Finally, both my kids are huge Sox fans. As a Papi, I know feel I need to steer them right.
So call me the Bronx Judas. I freakin love it. And by the way, Beckett pitches a two-hotter tonight.
Boston, you know I love you madly.