‘Nuff said. Now I understood.
Republicans! How could they get any lower than that? I asked.
So it was clear, I had to hate the Yankees — and did for a long time.
My father was right: They did win most of the time. In the 1950s, when I was just old enough to begin my love affair with the game of baseball, they would win the World Series in six out of 10 years in the 1950s and took five straight World Series from 1949 to 1953.
Then in 1962, I sat in the Yankee Stadium bleachers for one game of the World Series and watched the Yankees defeat my beloved Giants (now moved to San Francisco). The bleacher seats were far from home plate, but who cared? I was about 50 yards or so from my hero, Willie Mays, No. 24, and I spent most of the game staring at him and wishing, wishing, he’d turn around, wave at me, and say, “Say hey, Lanny.”
It seemed so unfair that the Yankees won all the time. They had The Babe and Lou Gehrig in the 1920s and 1930s, when they won eight World Series. Then they had Joe DiMaggio in the 1940s, when they won five World Series. Then they had Mickey Mantle in the 1950s and, toward the end of the decade, Roger Maris too, when, as I said, they won six World Series in 10 years.
And as for Mickey Mantle, that was one more reason to hate the Yankees: Some people actually had the chutzpah to say that Mickey Mantle was better than Willie Mays. Fuhgeddaboudit!!!
Then, finally, there seemed to be some economic and social justice in the world. The Yankees didn’t win a World Series for 17 years — from 1979 to 1995. But if it’s too good to be true, it’s too good to be true. In the late 1990s, the Yankees started to be Yankees again. In the last five years of the 20th century, they won three World Series. And in one of those years, 1998, they won 114 regular-season games — an American League record.
Despite my family history — our DNA! — my young son, Josh, probably at the age of 7 or 8, announced that he was a Yankee fan.
“What??? How can you?” I asked him. “You can’t. You just can’t. It’s against family tradition. You will make your late grandpa cry in Heaven.”
“I like them,” Josh said, providing the definitive and, as I understood from the tone of his voice, the final answer.
“Well, I am still going to hate them,” I warned him.
He shrugged his shoulders. No effect there.
But then came the 2009 World Series. Moved by Josh’s excitement when the Yankees won the pennant and as the World Series began, I tried to give them another look. I truly did. Do it for Josh, I rationalized.