As a fan of the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers, I have to say that this is shaping up to be a most exciting football season. I've been a New England fan ever since I wrote the job talk that got me my current employment while watching them win the Superbowl. And I've been a Green Bay fan since becoming friends with Carlos.
But my football loyalties are shallow. I'm a baseball man, a fan of the once and future dreaded (but always hated) New York Yankees.
I follow them around. That's me at Fenway. I had doffed my hat at the moment that photo was taken, but look at the two guys standing below my right arm. Yankees hats. And look at the fellow seated in front of them. A Derek Jeter jersey. We are there, in the bleachers of Fenway. The opposite would not occur in Yankee Stadium, not unless the Red Sox fan in question wanted humiliation. Or possibly violence.
The Bleacher Creatures of the Bronx are the fellows who learned to chant obscene comments about the sexuality of Dice-K's mother in Japanese. Two senior professors once took me to a Red Sox game against Toronto. They weren't surprised, exactly, at my comportment.
In some ways, Boston and New York are inverses. In NYC, nobody could care less if you wear Red Sox paraphenalia. In fact, Manny Ramírez managed to blow a shot at turning most of Washington Heights and a big chunk of the Bronx into part of Red Sox Nation. (Guess how he blew it. Right.) In Boston, though, people feel free to yell at me in the street for wearing a Yankees hat. (And so I mostly don't, except around Harvard Square.) On the other hand, Yankees fans do fine inside Fenway, even in the bleachers ... and the reverse ain't true in the Bronx. (I wouldn't risk it on the D-train after a game neither, to be honest.)
So why am I a baseball fan? Three reasons. (1) I actually played it back in the day. Sure, now I have trouble throwing a ball ninety feet, but I played the real thing, unlike football. I think I played tackle football maybe, like, twice in my life, and even then it was way way watered-down because we used neither pads nor helmets and I am still here to talk about it. (2) I understand baseball. People who don't understand baseball won't admit this, but the game is actually simpler than football. And (3) ... history. Baseball's just got hella more history than football.
Which brings me to nostalgia. I rarely give Brink Lindsay props. After all, he has no idea what really caused the Great Compression, mistakenly believes that the Democratic Party lost white male votes outside the South during the 1960s and 1970s, and claims that the Great Society contributed to "an explosion of crime, urban riots, family breakdown, and welfare dependency." But he did say one very very clever thing about nostalgia for the 1950s, when baseball ruled supreme, and today's political debates:
"Republicans want to go home to the United States of the 1950s, while Democrats want to work there."
True or false?