Thursday, June 05, 2008

A Night With The Yankees

I went to see the Yankees play the Blue Jays on Tuesday night - the special occasion being that I was one of the first to respond to an email that went around work with an offer of free baseball tickets.

I've always been one of the quickest draws in town when it comes to email responses - especially when free sports tickets are on the line. I'm also lightning quick to respond when invited to dinner, offered free air travel, or notified that my car is parked illegally.

And so it came to pass that I was blessed with some pretty sweet seats to see Joba Chamberlain start his first Major League game.

Robinson Cano throws totally like a girl during warm-ups, but then slowly transitions to throwing more like a man as the game wears on.

So I'm not exactly a big Yankees fan. But I'm also most certainly not a Toronto Blue Jays fan. Under normal circumstances, I'd be rooting hard as hell for the Yanks. To throw a wrench into the works this time was the fact that Roy Halladay, the starter for the Jays, is my top fantasy baseball pitcher.

The seats would have been much better if they came with a catheter. so you didn't have to get up at all during the game.

I needed him to pitch a good game, and get the win, and strike out 20 Yankees batters - including A-Rod 5 times, and Jeter 5 times. And somehow hit a few home runs even though the pitchers don't bat in the American League.


I had to covertly root for my fantasy pitcher, while outwardly cheering the home team. Anything else would be disrespectful to those who gave me the tickets, and to the fans around me.

You can almost see the guilt in my eyes as I secretly cheer for the Blue Jays.

To add to the realism of my fictitious fandom, I decided to boo the shit out of Scott Rolen - former 3rd baseman of my hometown Phillies, and current player for the Blue Jays. He had a serious falling out with Phillies management several years back and refused to re-sign with the team for any amount of money.

The general manager of the Phillies at the time was Ed Wade. I can only imagine what sour memories Rolen has of Wade. I think it got pretty ugly during their break-up.

So I screamed "ED WADE!!" each time Rolen came to bat. If you watch a replay of the game, you'll hear it pretty clearly - especially during the 7th inning, by which time my vocal cords had been thoroughly lubricated with beer.

Rolen went 1 for 5 with a strikeout.

Mission accomplished. I got inside his head.

But for the most part, it tore me all up inside - this internal conflict. Cheering for someone, yet secretly wishing for failure. I was Hillary Clinton, to Joba and the Yankees' Barack Obama.

How do you resolve this kind of fantasy/reality incongruity?

The only way would have been to bench Halladay, or not go to the game.

With Halladay pitching lights-out over his past few starts, and the aforementioned super-sweet seats being offered up for free, neither of those was about to happen.

So the answer is - as Shaquille O'Neal once famously said, "'s like the Pythagorean Theorem. There is no answer. "

What Shaq meant by that is, well, sort of unclear. But what we can all learn from his unintentional wisdom is that, just like Pythagoras, we need to persevere until we find an answer to our problem - fantasy sports-related or otherwise.

In the end, I got my fantasy baseball win and had a great time at the game. But to all those thousands of true Yankees fans who joined with me on the cheers for Jeter and the boos for Rolen, I have to say I'm sorry. Please forgive me. I can't promise I won't lie to you again, but I assure you that it will only happen if the fantasy baseball stakes are very high.

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