After 40 Years, A Switch of Allegiance! But How?
I’ve known Mark for thirty years, he’s been a Yankees fan for forty years. The most diehard of Yankees fans.
I am not a Yankees fan.
We’ve certainly had our go arounds over the years. He always defended his mighty Bronx Bombers – from the occasional lean times through the latest dynasty of the late 90’s and into the 21st century.
Mark and I like to catch up on each other’s families and talk sports maybe two times a month or so. So last night after my Eagles manhandled his Giants, I just had to call. You just knew I would, right? Any self-respecting Philly fan has to at least rub some salt or salt-substitute into the wound of his NY counterpart.
I did. But I eased up a bit. After all, we are friends and so I know when enough is enough.
“Well,” I said. “At least your Yankees will have a real shot this year with all their new acquisitions.”
Then came the response — at 9:41 PM Eastern Time on January 11, 2009.
“I’m done with the Yankees. I’m a Tampa Bay Rays fan now.”
“What?” Come again?” “English, please?”
Mark went on to explain how he decided shortly after the Sabathia, Burnett and Texiera signings amidst the worst global economy since the Great Depression how he just couldn’t go through the motions anymore and cheer such greed. “Enough is enough,” he said. “I guess I never wanted to admit it to myself, but the Steinbrenners buying all these championships over the years was never really fully satisfying. I like the Rays. I like their style.”
This was the sports equivalent to finding out there’s no Santa Claus. How is it possible for the most dyed in the wool, passionate pinstriper I’ve ever known to suddenly turn his back on his team — after 40 years? FORTY YEARS?!! I’m not a Yankees fan – and I’m bummed out. What the hell are we going to talk about now? The Rays?? Sure, my Phillies beat them in the World Series…but…the Rays? On a semi-regular basis? For a serious sports discussion?
Mark, you’re short-changing me man. You’re denying me the thrill of getting into a heated exchange. Remember the Nettles vs. Schmidt and Carlton vs. Guidry rants? You’re walking away from that? For the Rays?
I used to think some things in life were sure things. After last night, nothing in life is a sure thing.