Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Between the unpredictability of the football season and a particularly vibrant baseball playoffs, this is the most exciting time of the year in sports. The underlying drama of the playoffs is as compelling as any book or movie and as unpredictable as the best episodes of Survivor or the workings of the female mind.

I'm not a Yankee fan and love few things more than to root against them. It has less to do with their payroll (the Mets are just as guilty of throwing money around and gouging their fans, only for them it's usually towards a losing effort) than the simple fact that I love the underdog. I grew up a Yankee fan in the 70's - Graig Nettles was my hero! - but by the early 80's, when all my favorite players were gone, I became a Mets fan, remaining loyal to my native NY and suffering through the final years of George Foster and Dave Kingman before the great payoff of 1986!

This year's playoffs find me cheering for the team they beat that year, the Red Sox, hoping they stick it to the Yankees so bad, George Steinbrenner goes into permanent exile and that smug, overrated jerkoff, Joe Torre retires. I'm also rooting for a full seven games from the Cubs and Marlins because two great underdogs deserve no less. The Marlins practically raised their manager (and their season) from near-death and the Cubs...well the Cubs are the Cubs. Period.

Rooting for a team is something you either get or don't and I'm not really sure what the dividing line is. Some people dig competition, some don't, I guess. For me, there's few things as electric as sitting in a bar surrounded by friends and complete strangers, cheering on your favorite team. Or against your least favorite. And, of course, talking shit to rival fans, real or imagined. There's no intrusive thoughts about the fatal flaws of our capitalistic system - unless you're hating on the Yankees free-spending ways - just the pure and simple enjoyment of a game played at the highest level. It's the collective unconcious in it's most powerful form.

There's the human element, too. These are real people playing their hearts out and, especially in the playoffs, the best ones leave everything out on the field. Anyone that watched the Jackson-Damon collision last night and didn't feel it in the pit of their stomach is a heartless bastard. Two guys, playing their hearts out with no regard for their bodies, laying everything on the line. That's what it's all about.

"Cowboy up!" Go Red Sox!

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