I Wish I Knew How to Quit You, Yankees

I am, and have always been, a prisoner stuck behind New York Yankees pinstripes. Back when I was a teenager, I owned my baseball obsession, my “Yankee Pride.” I embraced it, boasted about it, flaunted it in the face of fans of any other team — particularly the rival Red Sox.

I believed Don Mattingly was The Messiah.

Today, however, as an alleged emotionally mature adult — one who would much rather be known for more intellectual and literary pursuits — I work hard to rid myself of my allegiance to the Bronx Bombers. I am ashamed of my chronic affliction, this Yankee addiction, this personal curse.

It is a daunting task, a magnanimous undertaking rivaled perhaps only by my attempt in 8th grade to quit masturbating after reading in a Kung Fu book that excessive ejaculating caused permanent loss of chi and made a man weak. I never even earned my white belt.

What I face now is the baseball equivalent of Brokeback Mountain; try as I might, I just can’t seem to quit you, Yankees. I wish I knew how to quit you.

I could hardly be referred to as a Yankee fanatic. I never paint my face or any other body part in team colors. I sport no temporary or permanent tattoos of the internationally known interlocking “NY.” I have never knocked back a beer per inning in Yankee Stadium then picked a fight during the 7th inning stretch with an inter- or intra-league intruder who had become too vocal in support of his sluggers. Yes, I occasionally sport an official Yankee cap, but I typically do so while wearing my “writer’s” glasses and a well-worn blazer, hoping to pass myself off as a hip New York novelist à la Paul Auster rather than as a supporter of a team that represents all that is disdainful and deplorable about “America’s game” and professional sports as a whole.

Sometimes, while wearing my Yankee cap (which I do only when I postpone bathing or want to enter a hip hop club without being laughed at too hard), I carry a copy of Sartre’s Being and Nothingness or Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent in a sad attempt to show that my inner leftist pseudo-intellectual easily eclipses anything concerning ERAs, RBIs or win-loss ratios. I will quote Kafka or Camus to avoid being lumped in with the fantasy league freaks who waste years of their life focusing on the batting averages of artificially bulked up multi-millionaires.

I am not like those fans. I am worse. Much, much worse.

This because I no longer own my obsession; rather I over-think and apologize for it and allow it to gnaw at my neurons, making me more pathetic than any fan who you may see regularly altering their wardrobe or body or license plate or shrubbery to prove their Yankee allegiance.

The traditional Yankee fan is real. He is who he is, and he sees no reason to hide or camouflage his idolization. He certainly would never apologize for it. He purchases team paraphernalia, pounds beers and punches his television with nary a care of who may be witnessing his exultation or self-destruction in the name of his beloved ballplayers. They, like myself — before I went away to college and discovered literature, art and philosophy — wear their team’s logo on their sleeve or actual forearm for all to see. They are brothers, united in their almost admirable idiocy, with no pretenses. You know exactly what they stand for, what they believe in, how they will react to a thrilling victory or a devastating defeat. They are reliable. They can be trusted.

I, on the other hand, lack the courage to reveal my true convictions. Where a true bold supporter of the Yankees would, without hesitation, resort to fisticuffs at a gathering after somebody cast aspersions at the team’s coach, players, play-by-play man or grounds crew, I would ignore such insults and even go so far as to act incredulous over the fact that the topic of baseball had even come up and caused such commotion in the first place — just to show my friends and acquaintances how above it all I was. Of course, later on, during my drive home from the gathering, I would sit alone in my car and verbally thrash the absent Yankee critic — using triple- and quadruple-syllabic epithets backed up by an assortment of current team and individual player statistics to render the blasphemer speechless (if he were present).

Yes, I am worse. I am worse because I think that I am better.

I am the most tortured type of fan. I possess the intelligence and logic to recognize that blind support of professional sports is utter foolishness, complete folly, but at the same time I am unable to overcome the decades of nostalgia and habit that have kept me pinned beneath pinstripes, and that will continue to do so until I die or am stricken by Alzheimer’s.

My condition is debilitating. My private Yankee obsession supersedes my pretentiousness, thus score-checking and standings-scanning will always find ways to poke holes in my more lofty ambitions. On countless occasions I have interrupted productive bouts of writing, reading, research, cooking, conversing, cocktailing, child playing, travel planning, weight training, movie viewing and even love making to click on a television, radio or web browser for an inning-by-inning update on how the Yankees were doing on the diamond that day.

But the worst and most shameful aspect of my Yankee affliction is the displaced aggression. If I had a dime for every time I’ve punched a wall, slapped my laptop, thrown a trash bucket, head-butted a door, and bitten my arm whenever things didn’t go my team’s way, I would have enough money to open up a clinic to treat assholes who do such ridiculous things while watching sports.

Of course, I usually only exhibit such inane aggression when I am home alone. In those rare instances that I am unable to contain my rage when my wife is within earshot, I am always quick with a lie to justify my outburst: “Sorry to scream and throw my stapler like that, baby — I just found out that Jonathan Franzen didn’t win the Booker Prize for his latest book. Man, that tears me up!” Or sometimes I flat out deny that the noise she heard was anger related or even emitted by me: “Oh, I accidentally stepped on the cat and he knocked over my desk while frantically running off in pain. My bad.”

The 2012 Major League Baseball season just started up two weeks ago. 162 regular season games, with a month of playoffs to follow. If you need me, I’ll be at home by my computer watching the live simulcast of every Yankee game on MLB.com — cheering on a bunch of grossly overpaid imbeciles and futilely praying for my freedom. TC mark

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  • fralalalaa

    nothin sexier than a pretentious dude accepting his pretentiousness. sup ;)

  • http://twitter.com/firstheart42 hannah✯

    How dare you. 
    How dare you assume that there’s no way to be an intellectual and a baseball fan. That “good” baseball fans are the idiots in the bleachers who start fights. That the Yankees are the most horrible thing that has ever happened to you.  I would like to see you find the authors of the thousands of pages that have been written  in published, peer reviewed journals discussing pitch type, pitch count, bat wood consistency, batted ball profile, glove leather quality, and everything you can think of and tell them you cannot be an intellectual and a baseball fan. And then, after they’ve stared at you with dull eyes, you can come to the thousands of other Yankees fans who roll their eyes and feel annoyed by those morons in the stands giving them a bad name. How dare you insist that someone can’t love baseball and be a sensible person, that baseball is some kind of CURSE we must bear. 

    I am a real Yankees fan – whatever the hell that means. I’ve been so since I was six years old, and I’m sure you at least understand how much soul-grappling agony and immeasurable satisfaction such a thing has brought me.  Yet I also think of myself as pretty educated – college graduate, with all those arts and philosophy and science classes you spoke of. But learning about how great the world is doesn’t make me any less of a baseball fan. Maybe it makes me appreciate everything more, how perfect this little game is in the scale of all the things in the universe. Maybe it’s not related at all. But learning about Descartes, Kant and Hitchens didn’t bring me to this sudden revelation that baseball is stupid. Maybe they’re not even the slightest bit related. 

    It sounds like you hate yourself. I don’t think the rest of us Yankees fans – or the Yankees themselves, who often not the brightest bulbs in the box, are just as good as bad as the rest of us. Robinson Cano buys ambulances for his tiny Dominican town. Derek Jeter buys sports equipment for kids. Curtis Granderson rebuilds Detroit. And of course, HOPE Week, which reaches out to all kinds of people with all kinds of challenges. 
    So you know what? Take your self-hatred and put it on yourself. Don’t blame us for your obvious internal issues. Turn off the TV and see a therapist. 

    Oh, and go fuck yourself. 

    • Chelsea

      Hannah,
      You rule.
      Sincerely,
      a silly baseball fan with no brainz and the emotional maturity of a rock

    • Guest

      Your rage is misdirected and, frankly, embarrassing. Do you think this article is somehow capable of derailing the very fabric of America’s pastime? No? Then calm the fuck down.

    • Mike

      This was, almost word for word, my reaction after reading this article.  I’m not sure when it became “cool” to write on this site, Facebook, or other places about how much you don’t like sports.  There are an awful lot of people who feel the need to make it quite clear how much they do not like sports, which I can only ever read as “Look how enlightened and superior I am to all of those people wasting their lives on such pedestrian matters.”  If you don’t like sports, don’t talk about them.  When you do, you don’t look enlightened; you look like a pretentious dick.

  • guest

    Ha, good job, this is a funny piece. I have a similar problem, not in trying to hide my Yankees pride – but to prove it’s genuine. I live in the south so everyone assumes I’m hitching my bandwagon to the most obvious team. In reality, my family is Virginia via the Bronx and fiercely loyal to the Yankees. Disloyalty is grounds for disownment. I wish I was kidding.

    • TIM

       Similar but opposite problem, I live in New York but my family is from Gainesville and every time I wear a Florida Gators cap everyone assumes I’m either white trash or just hopping on the bandwagon of a great team.

  • eff sox

    what’s the deal with the photo? looks like a minor league or spring training game? DEFINITELY not Yankee Stadium, haha. you need to stop giving a shit what people think and just accept your love the greatest franchise in the history of sports. 

  • Guest

    “A wise man writes down what he thinks, a stupid man forgets what he thinks, a complete idiot punishes himself for what he
    thinks.”

  • Guest

    I loved this piece, and find the anger toward it baffling. It’s not about being embarrassed to love baseball. It’s about resigning yourself to the fact that the team you love will never be the likable underdog, but rather is the symbol for greed and unfairness in the MLB. As a lifelong Yankee fan who wishes she cared about the Mets, I thought this was great. 

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