All right, the Yankees just won the World Series. What better time, then, to tell my Jorge Sosa story? I know. I know. Nobody in his or her right mind would associate pitcher Jorge Sosa with the New York Yankees, but bear with me, okay? We'll get to that. Today, though, is Part One: The Backstory. Here you go:
Back when Bob and I lived close(r) to (and in) New York City, we used to try to get to a Yankees game at least once a year. It's still odd for me to hear myself tell people that. You see, I grew up in North Carolina. We had no professional baseball teams in the state. I was sort of a lukewarm Atlanta Braves fan, if anything. Truth be told, though, I just didn't care much for baseball.
Anyone who has ever lived in North Carolina knows that there is one sport and one sport only. The rest are merely games. But basketball? Well, the mega Southern Baptist churches know who their competition is. And we're not talking pro basketball here (at least, not since Jordan left the Bulls). Charlotte had some team called the Bumblebees or something, didn't it? (Now, before I get a million emails from 21st-century American literalists with no sense of humor -- an invasive breed that does not understand words like "facetious" or "sarcasm" -- I will take the sting out of the humor: yes I do know that they were the Charlotte Hornets. And I hope that some of you are with it enough to have caught an intentional pun.) No, we are talking college hoops. Before you even learn to say "mama" or "dada", if you happen to be a baby born in North Carolina, you know how to say, "Go 'heels!" or "Go Wake!" or "Go Wolfpack!" (My omission here, for those in the know, will tell you where my loyalties lie.)
Yes, I was a basketball fan. I was also a football fan. I can still remember my father teaching me the rudiments of the game -- all about first downs and touchdowns -- as we watched The Washington Redskins lose, yet again, on our black and white TV. My football knowledge was furthered when my brother got an electronic football game (BTW, don't let the British boys fool you when it comes to American football. Ian took that thing to England with us when we went to live there, and we barely managed to get our hands on it with all the boys in our village passing it around, mesmerized by it, trying to outscore each other, while telling us out of the other sides of their mouths what a wimpy sport American football is).
So, I was a basketball fan and a football fan. Then I moved to Connecticut (in the days before the Internet) where all I could find in the local papers, papers that didn't seem to care less about the ACC (until March, of course), were UConn scores. Getting information about the teams I loved was suddenly nearly impossible. Thus, much to my surprise, my interest in basketball began to wane. My interest in football, which I had never liked as much as basketball, even more so, now that I had no one who wanted to watch it with me.
And then I met Bob: a sports fanatic all around. He'll tell you he's not, but he is. You just have to be able to intuit, somehow, that just because he will sit in front of a TV watching football for 2-3 hours doesn't mean he's really into it. In fact, despite the fact there is no leisure-time activity you're not that into that you would waste 2-3 hours of your precious time on (unless, you know, it's six months into a new relationship that seems to be going somewhere, and your new love thinks nothing is more fun than spending a Saturday train spotting with you), you're supposed to believe him when he tells you he's not that into football (despite the fact he played the sport in high school and coached it when he was a teacher).
Actually, though, it's easy to believe he's not that into football if you've ever seen how he relates to baseball. Most specifically: Yankees baseball. You can tell it's different because he has to sit a certain way while watching it. You can tell because, unless the Yankees are ahead by 8 in the bottom of the ninth, you will never be able to engage him in idle chatter. You can tell because, if it's the 6th game of the World Series, and the Yankees suddenly go ahead by 3 runs, you'd think someone had come along and told him he'd won the $70,000,000 jackpot.
It's infectious. I've long since lost interest in basketball. I've come, pretty much, to dislike football (such a stupid, violent sport that brings out the worst in men when there's so much of the best in men that needs attention). But baseball? Bob has taught me all about what an incredibly cool sport it is (and it is. It's truly the thinking man's -- and woman's -- sport). And Yankees baseball? Well, I'm all over that (except I have a hard time watching it, because I am convinced I am bad luck for the team). No, nobody likes Steinbrenner, and I'm not somebody, so I fall into that camp. However, I do like the majority of the players on the team and have ever since Bob infected me. (My favorite was Paul O'Neill, who has long since retired.)
And so, Bob and I used to go to Yankees Stadium (the old one) at least once a year, which is where this story that is to be continued really begins, and where you will meet Jorge Sosa. I'll see you in Part 2 (sometime next week) at Yankee stadium.