Katie Baker, the former Deadspin contributor who was poached by Bill Simmons for his Grantland dream team, writes a weekly mailbag on the ESPN-backed site. In yesterday’s column, in which a picture of Eli Manning headlined the lengthy read, the final letter Baker addressed was from a Michael S.
OK– so what?
Michael S., a Yankees, Giants, and Knicks fan… who was called up by the Phillies last year.
Here’s what he wrote: [Grantland.com]
My dad was born and raised in the heart of New York City. He is a diehard fan of the Yankees, Giants, and Knicks. Just like any other kid with a diehard New York sports fan dad, I was brainwashed from a very early age to live and die with New York sports. My dad and I bond the most over sports and going to events. We went to Lambeau Field for the 2007 NFC Championship game, and now to this Super Bowl.
Long story short, I got drafted by the Phillies, and got called up for a month and a half this past season. My love for the Yankees has disappeared but my love for the Giants and Knicks is as strong as ever. I also have fallen in love with the city of Philadelphia and truly believe they are the best baseball fans in the country. The last thing I ever want to do is lose support from these fans, but I love the Giants. So am I allowed to outwardly root for the G-MEN or do I have to keep that to myself because I happen to be employed by the Phillies?
— Michael S.
Baker offered a response in which she compared Schwim’s conundrum to Sister Wives. So, between that reality and the fact that she’s a Mets fan, I’m declaring her unqualified to weigh in on such provincial manners.
My response to Schwim is after the jump.
In short, yes. Thank you for writing me. I know we’ve had our differences, Michael. Like that one time where you Twitter scolded me for misspelling your name in a post about your smoking hot bodybuilder girlfriend. But we move on, and I applaud you for caring about such irrational, yet necessary, matters.
Perhaps you’ve seen the negative reaction some in this city have had to otherwise capable athletes like Mike Richards (Yankees hats), Shane Victorino (Cowboys Tweets), or, more recently, James van Riemsdyk (Eli Manning Tweets) and DeSean Jackson (Lakers and Kings gear at a Sixers games).
I’m sure that I’m leaving out a few, but those are the ones that immediately come to mind.
Perhaps the insults and obscenities hurled toward those folks spooked you. After all, you’re still trying to cement your spot with the big club, and the last thing a middle reliever wants to do is piss off a demanding, dare I say “fickle,” fan base.
But your situation is different from most mentioned above. I’ve been known to take issue with those folks for their seemingly arbitrary rooting interests. We had a problem with Mike Richards wearing Yankees caps, because he had no – zero, none, zilch – connection to New York. He just wore them because they were cool, even though he and his buds routinely attended Phillies games.
We had a problem with Shane Victorino’s Cowboys Tweets. Why? Because Shane Victorino is from Hawaii. His only rationale for being a Cowboys fan was their pretty star and that whole "America’s Team" thing. Total violation.
More recently, DeSean Jackson, a Los Angeles native, showed up at a Sixers game in Lakers and Kings gear. There would be no issue with him pulling for his hometown team if he wasn’t, generally speaking, a jackass. He’s done little, if anything, to show that he gives two shits about or understands the fans in this town. He seemingly has been given courtside tickets by the team, denied a fluffy interview request from Matt Cord (who was going to walk-him-in softballs), and then, on Monday, showed up looking like a thug in Lakers gear, completely oblivious to the fact that he was already on thin ice with fans.
You, Michael, aren’t from New York, but were raised by your father to be a fan of his hometown teams. We can relate. Such familial influences are often the main reason why we’re sports fans, Philly fans. So I applaud your caring.
Many folks will think such questions or cares are completely unfounded and based in irrationalities– they are, but so are all things sports. The very fact that anyone is reading this, is, in and of itself, irrational. We pay thousands of dollars and spend countless emotional capital rooting for people from around the globe who we will likely never meet. All in the name of what? An arbitrary confirmation of our irrational wants and desires. As such, the folks who invest their hard-earned time and emotions into teams and players would like to know that the people on the receiving end give a couple of shits about their feelings. Which it seems like you do, Michael. And for that, we thank you. Just don’t go tweeting about how great Eli is… because then things might get ugly.
Baker’s response is below:
"Long Story Short, I Got Drafted by the Phillies" sounds like Bill Bryson's next work of participatory journalism (which I would excitedly preorder, obviously), but I'll also accept it as a throwaway line in my first mailbag letter from a professional athlete. Hello there! Not sure if you and/or anyone else watches Sister Wives, but it had a great reality show wrinkle in time a season or so back during which they spent numerous episodes agonizing about whether or not to "go public" with their polygamy — when, clearly, they obviously already had gone public or else how would I be watching them agonize about it on a show called Sister Wives in the first place, you know? Anyway, my point is, your question kind of reminds me of Sister Wives: You're already out in the open and now there's no point in hiding it.
Sooner or later, everyone has to learn that there are two types of sports fans: those who intrinsically understand that it's unreasonable to assume any particular athlete would have grown up as a fan of their team; and those who are certain to spit things like "He stinks. He's a Giants fan, what do you expect?" in angry earnest down the road. But regardless of whom you're dealing with, it's best at this point to remain gracious in victory, because it's hard to say how long it will endure. I say this not as any sort of reverse jinx, but rather because any fan of any NFC East team knows this much to be true: No one lasts too long on top. There's as good a chance as any that the Eagles could knock the Big Blue right down to size next season. And if/when that happens, it's going to be annoying enough without a horde of I-told-you-so-ing Philly fans getting all up in your face. (Just don't wear a Giants shirt into a Wawa.)
Here's a recent and relevant precedent that you can use in your favor, if needed: The Giants' own resident salsa dancer, Victor "they're not booing, they're saying" Cruuuuuz,not only outed himself as a longtime Cowboys fan this December, he did so in the most potentially damaging way possible: by lamenting how he "was pretty upset when we lost to the Giants a couple of years back when I was in college." That's right, He used the "loyal we." The sound bite made headlines, but Giants fans were secure enough to know it really wasn't that big a deal. And after the Giants won the Super Bowl, the New York Rangers' Brian Boyle, a noted New Englander, was revealed to have obviously engaged in a pro-Patriots bet. Rangers fans understood. So you've got leverage over Philly fans in that respect: If they give you any trouble, it's just proof that they're vastly inferior to their counterparts in New York. Let's go Mets!