Everything I Learned About Sports I Learned from the Godfather…

Brando as Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather (...

Sometimes a picture really does say a thousand words… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has come to my attention that some people do not understand the way sports teams work here in New York.  Sports are big money here, and drama abounds almost wherever money abounds.  (I’m pretty sure this can be confirmed by watching Real Housewives of… wherever.)

I’m a chick.  That means, growing up I was only expected to be mildly knowledgable about sports.  I generally paid attention only to my teams.  Despite having read “The Blind Side”, what I actually know about football could fit on the head of a pin.  (And if Michael Lewis wasn’t awesome, I wouldn’t even know that much.)  Nonetheless when my teams do well, I’ll start getting into things.  When I was little, I remember going through a Tigers phase as well as a Pistons phase.  Both teams peaked when I was pretty young, and then were mediocre/not that great for many years.  And the Lions were always terrible.  So long before I became a Mets/Jets fan, I knew about pain and suffering.  Luckily, we had the Red Wings, and my grandfather used to get boxed seats for free.  (There was always a lot of graft in Detroit, and we were the proud recipients of said graft.)

Other than the Wings, I really didn’t watch a lot of sports until I started dating my husband.  However, that was also 2000, also known as the year of the Subway Series.  This was my first introduction to just how seriously people take their sports rivalries here in New York.  For those not born and raised in New York, I will explain.  You are born into a family, and that family already has an allegiance.  If your father and his father are Mets fans, YOU are a Mets fan.  If your father and his father are Jets fans, YOU are a Jets fan.  You may decide to change your name.  You may change your sexual orientation.  You are encouraged to change your underwear, but you do not change your baseball/football affiliations.  If you do, you are a turncoat, and your dead grandfather disowns you.  (In my husband’s case, it would be probably be his grandmother*, but never mind that.)  As Vito Corleone would say, “You don’t go against the family.”

To be clear, it is acceptable to be a Yankees fan, provided you are not a traitor and don’t act like a douchgrommet about the whole thing.  Let’s face it, it’s not that hard to root for a winning team.  It’s being loyal during bad times that counts, not during the endless “Honeymoon Phase” that Yankees fans seem to experience.

What girl wouldn’t glow in this shirt? Phew!
(Photo Credit: footballfanatics.com)

If you are female, there is a good deal more flexibility.  You’re not really expected to care to begin with.  So, you’re allowed to switch teams due to a relationship/marriage/divorce, or simply by virtue of being female.  (The fact that people expect you to change your mind a lot is actually one of the nice things about being a chick.  Shhh.)  I think you’re also allowed to change your mind if the team colors don’t look good on you, but I’m a little bit fuzzy on this…

Anyway, when I first moved here in 2003 and started going to Mets games, they were still pretty good.  Every year, they never quite reached the level of their hype, but they weren’t embarrassing.  And then there was 2009.  I was pregnant with my daughter that year, and my father-in-law had season tickets.  Sometimes my in-laws would go, but a lot of times they would give the tickets to us.  I would lug my large, clumsy (hungry) self into Queens to cheer them on, but they would lose every single game.  It would always seem like they were going to win, but then bam!  Right with all the bases loaded and the game tied, He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named would strike out.  Anyway, thankfully, I’ve always had a weakness for junk food.  Otherwise trekking it into Queens on a weeknight to watch the Mets lose to the Phillies in the eleventh inning, and waiting for trains at 1 a.m., might just sound ridiculous.  Eventually, we came to our senses and realized that heavily pregnant ladies (don’t worry, I use that term quite loosely) should NOT go to baseball games.  After all, I can watch the Mets lose quite comfortably from my own home, and the line for the bathroom is a lot shorter.

English: The original Mr. Met costume in the M...

Only the truly heartless could resist Mr Met! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, we have been rooting for the Mets from our living room couch for the last three years.  And we have recently recruited our sons.  Sometimes, it’s a little bit painful for them since they have to go to school with Yankees fans, but they are learning.  It’s the loyalty that counts.  And someday all of their pain will be made worthwhile… or not… but at least we won’t have to shoot them for being traitors.  They are supposed to go to Citifield for the first time this summer, so we shall see how that goes.  I suspect they will be like me, enjoying the cured meats, but crying on the inside.

How about you?  Does your sports team make you cry?  Don’t worry, if you’re male, I will assume you only cry one single (and therefore manly) tear…

*Did I mention that I married into an Italian family, and that my husband’s feisty/slightly crazy Sicilian grandmother could strike fear into the heart of anyone?

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23 Responses to Everything I Learned About Sports I Learned from the Godfather…

  1. paralaxvu says:

    Did you see the episode of Criminal Minds where Prentiss gave the NY cop she had been paired with on a case a couple of Mets tickets? He wondered how she knew. She said something like, “I have my ways…” If I were a New Yorker, could I have also known just by paying close attention to the guy during the show?

    • I don’t think I’ve ever seen Criminal Minds. There was probably some small thing in the background somewhere… You probably wouldn’t need to be a New Yorker, just someone with a really keen eye for detail!

  2. Andrew says:

    My late grandfather’s parents stepped right off the boat from Italy. I never met them, but he was so un-Italian. If it wasn’t for his last name, I never would have even known. He was an artist type though. That might have something to do with it.

    • I have seen that from time to time too, especially when I lived in Michigan. I think living in New York probably enhances your Italian-ness, and being an artist… I don’t know. Perhaps it could take away from one’s Italian-ness, but don’t forget that Michelangelo was Italian. And I always pictured him as the ultimate Italian guy, temperamental and talking with his hands.

      Sheesh, I probably should have written a disclaimer in here somewhere that this post was meant as satire, and that I know not all Italians are mafia-affiliated Sicilians who talk with their hands…

  3. Liverwurst says:

    Everything you write is true. Which is just another way of saying that my Father really was a sadistic SOB.

  4. ChrisP says:

    When i was a kid growing up in central PA we had the Steelers, and Pirates winning world championships and i lived near that formerly prestigious university that had a REALLY good football program at the time too, So there was alot to be happy about, I can’t imagine being born into a Jets family and having to endure an idiot like Rex Ryan 😀

    • Yikes… Well, at least you still have the Steelers!

      Rex Ryan is an idiot, no doubt, but he does manage to run a halfway decent program whereas the Mets are painful. Just painful.

  5. El Guapo says:

    I wholeheartedly agree with everything in this post, except “To be clear, it is acceptable to be a Yankees fan”.
    Which is clearly wrong.

    And a nice thing about being a Mets fan, is our pennants re more memorable, and therefore more valuable than Yankee bought & paid for pennants.

  6. Dammit, my WP feed is not telling me when you have new posts. So now I’ve got at least a week’s worth of your posts to catch up on. Sorry, Lovely!

    Being an arrogant Yankee fan, my team disappoints me when they don’t go 162-0 for the season. I’m not a Mets hater, though—I grew up in Queens so I have a soft spot for them too, and I’ve commiserated with my Mets fan friends many times. And the NY Rangers have broken my heart more times than I can count.

    And I definitely think you can tell Mets fans from Yankee fans, it just takes a little practice.

    Also, I had a Sicilian grandmother and although she died when I was very young, word is that she could scare the bejeezus out of people too.

    • My reader does that sometimes too. No worries.

      Yeah, my hubby actually turned on the Rangers. He couldn’t take it anymore. It is rough being a Mets fan, but you do what you gotta do. Hopefully, they will have a couple of good seasons that my kids can get excited about… eventually.

      My hubby’s grandmother was 4 feet 11 inches… and terrifying!

  7. haphillips says:

    I sat in bar in NYC and watched the 2000 series….what a cool time!

  8. Hobbles says:

    Hey, I would love to chat with you sometime. I don’t have any idea how, but in a week I will be home, and I’m going to try to contact you okay?

  9. cassiebehle says:

    I started faithfully following the Red Sox a few years ago and learned just this year that you should never get too attached. Almost all my favorite players have been traded and the team itself is completely foreign to me now. It’s so hard to want to watch them and have an interest in their year- that in itself is heartbreaking! I was actually just thinking of doing a blog about it this week – something to the effect of the hardest breakup I’ve ever had to go through…Hmm…

    • I never realized it, but in so many ways, sports are like preparation for relationships. The anticipation, the hard work, the loyalty, the element of luck, and sometimes none of it matters…

      On the plus side, I don’t have to choose between David Wright and Daniel Murphy. I can lust after them both and no one cares. 🙂

  10. Dad’s company would get tickets to Yanks games when I was growing up and that was Jeter, Posada, & Rivera were just starting out so a lot of my loyalty stems from no matter what’s going on in my life, the Yankee line-up remains fairly consistent. It’s comforting.
    Citifield is much more of a pain to get to for me than Yankee Stadium but went to one Mets game and they tied in the 8th only to lose in the 13th. I joked that it summed up why I can’t like them. But Citifield is very nice and has been food. Also, gotta love Mr. Met & the Apple that pops up when there’s a homerun.

    • I know my husband admits to liking that about the Yankees too. They also seem to hold tightly to certain traditions, which is great both for fans and for team-building. But… their pay-scale is so high that it feels like the odds are always in their favor over other teams. Of course, the Mets also have a fairly high pay-scale, and manage to do very little with it… *quietly weeping*

      And that’s how the Mets play. In a clutch, they freeze. They may need a psychologist more than they need coaching. Mr. Met, however, is awesome and the best mascot ever!

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