Well, it’s that time of year again. The baseball playoffs are about to begin and the football season is in full swing. This is the time of year when I have to explain how it’s possible that my favorite teams are the Boston Red Sox in baseball and the New York Giants in football.
To me, it doesn’t seem like a big deal. But many people are absolutely stunned that I can like one team from Boston and another team from New York, as if there is some cosmic law of the universe that says sports fans must follow ONLY teams from the same city.
Now, of course, for a lot of people it makes sense that they follow teams from the same city. If someone grew up in, say, Quincy, MA, it is unlikely he would root for the Chicago Cubs, the Dallas Mavericks, or the San Francisco 49ers. If a guy grew up in the Bronx, it would be odd (and probably dangerous to his health) to let his neighbors know that he loves the Red Sox.
But I grew up in central Connecticut, halfway between two major league cities, Tewksbury and Yonkers. No wait, I mean Boston and New York.
For folks who grew up in central Connecticut, 45-percent like the Yankees, 45-percent like the Red Sox, and the remaining 10-percent, most likely because of some undiagnosed emotional disorder, like the Mets. (Just kidding, Alan and Adam!)
When it comes to football, for the past two decades the Patriots have been king. Brady and Belichick have put together an undisputed dynasty during this time. Which is why so many people, when they learn of my Red Sox devotion (usually by simply looking at my hat), will ask incredulously, “Why don’t you like the Patriots?! They’re awesome!”
Yes, I know they’re awesome. They’ve had a great run with Brady calling signals for the past 25 years, and they’ll probably be great with Brady at quarterback for the next 25 years. (I understand Tom wants to retire from football at the same age I want to retire from my job: 68.)
But here’s the thing: the Patriots were not even on the radar screen in Connecticut in the late 1960s. I was 10 years old in 1967, and that is when my lifelong bonds of sports fandom were formed. It would’ve been impossible back then to be attracted to the Patriots, because they were not only not on the radar screen, they were not on the TV screen.
In Connecticut in 1967, you had one viewing choice on Sunday afternoons in the fall: The New York Football Giants.
If you lived in the affluent part of town and had one of those newfangled, rotating TV antennas, then maybe you could pick up Channel 4 from New York and watch something called the Jets, featuring some gimpy loudmouth at quarterback. But if not, then the Giants (or as we say, the “Jints”) were your guys.
This October the Red Sox players and I will have something in common: we’ll all be at home watching the playoffs on TV. Since the Sox are out of it, it’s imperative that the Giants play well. Umm, right. Have you seen how they started the season?
It doesn’t matter. They’re still my teams. And even if many people think it’s odd, I’m perfectly comfortable wearing my navy blue hat with the red “B,” as well as my royal blue hat with the white lowercase “ny.”
They’re my favorite teams. Always have been, always will. And if you think it’s odd, as they say when the Dallas Cowboys are introduced at The Meadowlands, “Thbbbtttttttttt!” (By the way, that’s how you spell a Bronx cheer.)