Red Sox Cheering

Turning Twosday: Two Teams, Two Choices for One Baby Girl

The first thing to know about this column is that I’m legitimately asking: Should my newborn daughter be a Mets or Red Sox fan? I don’t know how these things work. My wife says it’s not up to me, that she’ll either choose on her own or not give a crap, but I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough. Until then, it’s all a 12-lb. bundle of mystery and column fodder, but I ain’t pulling your leg.

The real question is whether the twin towers of geography and memory will win out over trying to imitate her pop. I’m in New York, have been here for 15 years and look to stay in the area for another decade and a half; somehow I never really saw the second part coming, which I think is just how life works. I’m a Red Sox fan specifically because I was born in Boston, and my daughter was born in Manhattan, so that leaves the Mets as the local option. Even my wife admits the Yankees are not tenable, because she is a beautiful genius.

This year I am watching more baseball than usual, because of the baby, and my girl watches, too, because the light from the TV is bright. She doesn’t know what’s happening, but the short-term threat is that the Mets may be downright magical for the first time in  a while, and I fear one photograph in a Bartolo jersey as a tot could seal her fate. Still, I’m considering it. I’ve been here 15 years and seen the team come a Carlos Beltran strikeout away from the World Series, but I’ve never seen that which appears on the Mets’ horizon. If the Mets fans are too creeped out to say it, I will: This team has it, at least for now.

So: yeah, something’s in the air. Forever darkly funny, the Mets are now contenders, and I’m hooked. A longtime friend of mine recently threw me a J’accuse: I loved the team, he said. I plead guilty, and I regret nothing. I love the Mets because of their hilarious absurdity, the last decade having played like an extended episode of 30 Rock. Now, that team is as dead as the Thursday night comedy lineup on NBC, the insidery yuks having been replaced by real dang critical acclaim and success…

… for now.

Okay so: Part of this is like Homer getting Marge the bowling ball. I may just want the Mets for myself. In this reading, *I* could “legitimately” root for them, as much as I’m a “root who you want to root for, except the Yankees” guy, that’s you, not me. I love the Mets, but I don’t need them to win unless I have a good reason. My daughter being a fan is as good as it gets.

What’s the alternative? Red Sox Nation, whatever that is, is a tougher nut to crack these days. Do the Red Sox have an interesting culture now, outside of the culture of winning? Again, I’m legitimately asking. We have a great ballpark, a great team and a distinct way of talking compared to the rest of the country, but to the the have-nots of the league we’re just a colossus in different colors. Red Sox Nation, the one on the Internet, seems to revolve around the bedrock principle that no loss is okay. To each her own, but it’s just boring, at least to my contrarian face.

Do the Red Sox have an interesting culture now, outside of the culture of winning?

The Mets are not so boring, and it’s because they are a colossus that is finally ready to straighten their legs for the first time in forever, and look down on the city like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Of course, it will only make a better story if they stand straight up only to get smacked back down, and repeat the process a few times until they finally win it all: it’s an impossibly alluring narrative, with with Fred Wilpon around. You really can’t appreciate the wins until you take the losses.

The Internet has made geography irrelevant in a great many cases, no more or less so than on this website, with its writers from Boston to Brooklyn to San Diego to Portland, Oregon. In sports it’s not tyrannical, but loyalty is, and loyalty is built by forces we can’t always predict. I don’t know if the Mets will win 20 straight World Series starting in October, which would throw a wrench into this whole thing. If the Red Sox were underdogs, that would be one thing. Right now, the underdogs wear blue and orange.

I think it comes down to this: I don’t want to raise a frontrunner because I don’t like being one. The Red Sox offer excellence, but that’s never what was interesting about them. To paraphrase long-dead WFAN regular Leo from Russia, all good teams are the same, all miserable ones are different in their own special ways. The Red Sox will always been special to me, but not special enough to eff with a happy family.

Photo by Kim Klement/USA Today Sports Images

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