I have a confession to make. It’s a confession that no one who is reading this on tumblr, and relatively few people who follow me on Twitter, will be surprised by, but I think it’s time I said it plainly and on the record.
I’m a baseball polyamorist.
You see, I’ve been baseball married to the Giants for pretty much my whole life. Certainly my whole life as a baseball fan, which is roughly twenty-two years and some change, if we’re dating it back to the 1989 World Series and my first clear memories of baseball. I won’t say it’s been a perfect marriage, but every relationship has its flaws, and we’ve learned to live with ours (and in this case by flaws I mean the Giants inability to have pitching and offense at the same time for most of my life and my inability to not scream profanities at the television and curse every one of their souls* at least 40-50 games a season). For better or worse, I swear on my Noah Lowry game used jersey, I will never leave them.
But, you see, a strange and wonderful thing happened a little less than a year ago. Well, it’s probably not fair to say “happened”, because looking at it now I can see how the foundation had been laid for years, so maybe we’ll say things finally came to a head in a sort of perfect storm of baseball temptation. See, I’ve been a big fan of both Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher for a long time, despite their previous histories on teams I’m pretty much supposed to at least be annoyed by. I’m a sucker for first basemen, especially ones who are plus defenders and have an awfully nice swing, so my fondness for Tex was come by honestly. I still don’t understand how anyone can resist Swish’s puppy dog enthusiasm, and his dedication to and love for his grandmother is something that I relate to very strongly (for those who don’t know, being near my grandmother was the reason I spent two years in North Carolina from 2009-2011). So I was already keeping a little more than a vague eye on the goings ons of the Yankees when I somehow found myself with a growing number of Yankees fans in my social media friend circle. And hey, I had grown up with stories of Joe DiMaggio’s roots just across the Carquinez Strait from my hometown. And hey, I was paying for MLB.TV already, and their games typically didn’t overlap with Giants games. And hey, how was I going to say no to that face and the judgement of one of my very very favorite people who I swear shares my brain so much that I call her my sister?
I spent the summer watching just about every Yankees game, sometimes with the Giants game on TV and the Yankees game on my laptop when both teams were on the same coast, or one game ran long, otherwise turning it into a six or seven (or more) hour long marathon double header almost every day. I’d watch the commentary on Twitter, but never venture any of my own for fear of being called out as either some sort of horrible baseball philanderer or as an obnoxious poseur bandwagoner.*** The first time I remember publicly admitting that I was watching the Yankees play was during the now infamous grand slam game against the A’s at the end of August. It was plausible deniability at its finest. The game was on CSN California, and it was such an utterly ridiculous game that how could I be blamed for watching it? Certainly no one (except the few who already knew) would suspect my shameful baseball two-timing.
Slowly the content I reblogged on tumblr was less “only the select very few Yankees I admit to liking because I can pretend it’s just THEM and not their Evil Empire team that everyone hates because that’s apparently the cool thing to do” and more “precious boobears I love you so much let me reblog and cuddle all of you!” I survived my first post-season with the Yankees, in which I became alternatingly convinced that my favorite navy blue henley was first lucky and then unlucky omg so so so so unlucky never wearing it on a game day ever again. I somehow reconciled the cognitive dissonance of Russell Martin the Evil Evil Dodger and Russell Martin the Yankee that I’m actually really awfully fond of. I stayed up all night so that I’d be awake in time to watch Jorge Posada’s retirement press conference and found myself reaching for kleenex. I couldn’t deny it anymore. This was something special.
Now, if someone put a gun to my head and told me I could only choose one team’s games to watch, from here until forever, my choice would be easy. The Giants are home and family and all the reasons I fell in love with baseball and then came back to it every time I’ve so much as thought about drifting away. But here’s the thing. My relationship with the Yankees is different, it absolutely is. I’m not a New Yorker (though I love the city as anyone with a childhood dream of being a Broadway star is morally obligated to). I know the stories of Yankees lore because, in many cases, they’re the stories of either greater baseball legend that transcends team allegiance, or they overlap with the history of the Giants and their shared New York roots, not because my newborn swaddling clothes had navy pinstripes. But different doesn’t equate to inferior. I have two friends who I would classify as pretty much my two closest friends over the past handful of years. One I’ve been friends with for over a decade, and one I’ve been friends with for almost exactly three years. I love them both dearly and would trust both of them implicitly with just about anything. Are my relationships with them the same? No, of course not. Are they even necessarily equal? Honestly, no. But are they both important? Are they both valuable? Do I care about both of them a whole lot and enjoy their company and laugh myself silly in their presence and want nothing but the best for them? Absolutely. Awkward, heavy-handed metaphor maybe, but I think it works.
If I felt like my affection for the Yankees somehow hindered my devotion to the Giants, I’d have to seriously consider letting my dear American League loves go, but really? In what instance would that happen? It’s not a zero-sum endeavor here. My choices are not “Giants fan or nothing.” This isn’t trying to straddle the fence of a historic rivalry. This isn’t even trying to root for teams that play each other more than once every several years. My baseball love and fangirl squee and stat analyzing is not a finite resource with proverbial fan love cookies being yanked out of the mouths of starving orphan Giants if I decide to watch the Yankees play after the Giants are done for the night or wear my D-Rob shirt out grocery shopping. If the Giants and Yankees meet in the World Series at some point in the future, well, aside from it taking a serious number of years off my life, I’d root for a close, seven game series ending in a parade down Market Street on a crisp, sunny, California day. But mostly? I’d just root for good baseball.
So consider this my official pronouncement of the whatever from high atop the thing. As this season winds up, there will be tweeting and tumbling and whatever the hell else I so choose about both of the teams I choose to support. My baseball husband(s) and my baseball boyfriend(s) are okay with it, so everyone else should be too.
*Except Matt Cain and Buster Posey. They are magically exempt from my cursing, because they are glorious and wonderful and they are continually bathed in the pure tears of unicorns** and doused in kitten fluff for extra resistance to my ire.
**Not Powder the Unicorn. Sorry, Powder. No offense.
***And honestly? Where the hell did we get this idea that anyone is allowed to tell anyone else that they’re doing being a fan wrong? I’m seeing this more and more, and I admit to being guilty of it myself at times, and I do think there are instances where someone’s reasoning is just wacky (that mlb-confessions post about “loving my Giants and my Dodgers” or whatever? Yeah. nope.gif on that one), but I think the policing of how someone interacts with their chosen sport (or TV show or movie or book or whatever, but I see it most strongly in sports fandom) has gotten out of hand. Alas, a rant for another day.