One City. New York City. The city that never sleeps.
I can attest that while the city never sleeps, I for one am again looking forward to doing so this evening. The new job is seriously a TON of stuff to learn: procedures, issues, tactics, strategies, training staff, outreach in the freezing cold, planning meetings and on and on. It’s one of the most fascinating ways to spend 60 hours a week though I must say. I really do feel like I’m making a difference and doing something that truly matters, which is a cool feeling. I’d love to be in front of the computer all day to watch Cubs games on-line, or listening to games on the radio. A lot of these Spring Training games are obviously during the day so I’ve been checking out box scores, watching highlights and reading up on all the latest news and updates. I can’t wait for the city to warm up and regular season games to back again. I already have it marked down when the Cubs come to town to play the Mets at Citi Field and am hoping to check out an exhibition game at the new Yankee Stadium when the Cubs are in town as well. That would be awesome.
Within this massive city however, depending on where you live, hang out, frequent, the baseball population is strongly divided between the Yankees and Mets. It’s rare to find a fan who roots for both teams as it is extremely looked down upon and hardly anyone takes you seriously if you claim to do so. Much like trying to sell someone in Chicago that you are both a White Sox and Cubs fan. Yeah, right.
Now every now and then you come across a Red Sox fan. Many have joined the bandwagon for sure since their recent success starting in 2004 but considering we’re on the East coast, it’s really not surprising. People move (like a lot of the transplanted fans with blogs in this community), people rebel against family, friends and ex’s to be different, people get attached to players that lead them to root for certain teams regardless of their zip code and again others simply climb aboard the band wagon. A lot Sox fans populate New York as well and it’s hard to tell who the Yankee fans hate more. I’m guessing it’s the Sox, but a crosstown rivalry is exactly that and there’s a lot to be said for it. Considering the Sox have the upper-hand as of late though, you don’t hear a lot of trash talking (or as much anyway) between Yankee fans and Sox fans, although they still enjoy picking on Mets fans. Calling them the JV team, saying their old stadium was a dumpster or simply enjoying watching their fans get amped up over projected success just to see their hopes crushed with two consecutive seasons of late season meltdown. This is essentially the baseball landscape in New York. A few Sox fans scattered throughout…but mainly a hard, loyal divide between Yankee fans and Mets fans. I’m sure it’s no surprise that those two teams get the most attention considering they both play here, but still, between the two of them I don’t really envy either. The ones I look at with a bit of green under the collar and for no reason related to my new job, are the Red Sox fans.
Red Sox fans walk among Yankee fans and Mets fans, nowadays, with their heads held high. Between years of AL East beatings and Buckner, both sides had something to say to them to give them a hard time if spotted walking down the street displaying their team loyalty be it a cap or jacket, t-shirt, etc. This is no longer a problem for them. Now, they basically walk around and get the same response as Cubs fans.
There aren’t a whole lot of us in comparison to the Yankee and Mets fans understandably. However, there are more than you’d expect. I’d say on average, at least once a day I see someone walking around with a Cubs hat on. Like Jeep drivers are known for honking at a fellow Jeep driver on the road to salute the car they have in common, so do Cubs fans acknowledge each other as we pass on the streets of New York. We have to. We’re all in this together and in a foreign land at that. I’ve walked down the street wearing my Cubs gear and constantly here it from construction workers who want to talk about last night’s game. From kids who love the Cubs and shout out “Go Cubs” as their parent proudly smiles and waves as they go by. From baseball fans at gatherings (bars, ESPN sports zone, etc) with just the utmost respect for the dedication we show as Cubs fans, or the most absolute confusion that we’ve hung in there for so long. Some laugh at the belief that every year is THE year and others completely respect it as they know there’s no other reason to be a ‘fan’. From the word fanatic, as a fanatic, you have to belief, simply by definition if for no other reason.
And it’s that respect that Cubs fans are shown in New York City. Abracadabra, a loyal reader of this blog asked me what it was like being a Cubs fan in New York recently and I decided I would post about it. This is pretty much what it’s like. Surrounded in one of the biggest cities in the world by millions who root for one of two other teams, with the occasional yet more frequent than expected encounter of a fellow Cubs fan with similar, friendly, Cubs logo-bearing fan gear who also can’t wait to see how the Cubs do this year, believe this is the year and tune in however we can (on-line mostly, or the occasional ESPN game) to follow every moment of the season. I recently joined a Cubs meetup group in the city and I can’t wait to experience ’09 with the Cubs fans I’ll meet as a result. Always fun to meet fellow Cubs fans and enjoy the season together, especially when we’re all in this together. And we might as well be together, we’re outnumbered for sure…and one day, when the sign reads AC000000, the disbelief and rare teasing will cease to exist from New York baseball fans. They will all look at us with the respect that a championship ballclub’s fans deserve, the same way they now look at Red Sox fans. Aside from being in Chicago, I honestly wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the country experiencing Cubs baseball and enjoying the baseball community as diverse, fun, exciting, humiliating, frustrating and fascinating as it is in New York. Not sure if that was detailed enough, but that’s basically what it’s like being a Cubs fan in New York. In a word? I’d say it’s actually pretty ‘awesome’.
Today’s game was amazing. Three home runs by the Cubs…Soriano, Fox, and Ramirez going deep. Always great to see the bats warming up during the Spring, getting ready for the pitches to count come Opening Day. Marshall had a great day with three perfect innings and Gregg looked great too. Piniella says Marmol pitching in the WBC won’t effect the closer competition. I hope he’s right. Gregg was great and I’d love him in the set up role, but I’m still a big fan of having Marmol as our closer. Time will tell, but it was great checking the box score and seeing the three of them going yard and having Marshall and Gregg step up with outstanding performances.
Hope everyone in New York, Chicago, Boston and really everywhere else is enjoying the excitement of Spring Training. I know I am…I just can’t wait for these games to count for real! Go Cubs Go!