Given the opportunity I would live, breath baseball any day, every day!
I owe my love of baseball to my dad who introduced me to the sport as a child. My fondest childhood memories with him was sitting down in the living room watching the 1996 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves. I figured out two things at nine years of age: I loved spending time with my dad, I loved the New York Yankees.
I was born in the Bronx and lived there for some time. Enough time to remember what it was like living in New York and my natural love for the Yankees. So the 1996 World Series was my first opportunity to cheer on my boys (the last time they won prior to that was 1978 so I was definitely not in the picture).
The years passed on and the Yankees continued to rise in their dominance and established themselves as the dynasty we all come to know (love it or hate it, it happened!).
Having the Yankees in the playoffs was amazing to watch as a kid especially since my birthday would always involved an American League Championship Series (ALCS) or World Series game so it made it even better. Yes, as a child I would believe that the Yankees won as a birthday gift to me (let a girl dream!).
The 1999 season closed the deal for me: I would become a true Yankee fan and follow the team. I got to know the players, watched as many games I could, skim through the newspaper for Yankees headlines, watch endless hours of Baseball Tonight to get a better understanding of the rest of the teams. In reality, I just wanted to see how many times the Yankees made the highlights.
I was young and in love. A girl and her Yankees. A girl who loved spending time with her dad and sharing their love of baseball.
And with most love stories, it all came to an end.
Ask me about the 1999 World Series and I can’t recall a single memory. All I remember was my parents splitting up and my life in a turmoil. They separated a week after my birthday which meant that October playoffs took a seat on the list of priorities.
I tried to function as a 12 year-old as best as I could, but it didn’t turn out too well. I got in trouble at home and school. The only thing that made me happy was watching replays of the Yankees. I soon found out that I could have conversations with my dad if they revolved around baseball. So my little 12 year-old self put every effort in her to learn as much about baseball (aside from the Yankees) in order to speak with my dad.
The 2000 baseball season marked the beginning of a journey and love affair with the game. I watched every game on TV available which meant that I watched a lot of National League and west coast team games to the discontent of my mother who supported me through the late nights. And by support I mean yelling at me to go to bed or to stop cheering so loudly at 11pm. That woman is a saint and looking back, I think she understood how much baseball meant to me.
Things at home and school got better a year after and my love for the Yankees continued to grow. Just thinking about it as I write brings back so many memories. While my relationship with the man responsible for introducing me to baseball faded, my connection to the game grew.
During my teens I got to know the in-and-outs of the sport, got to know other teams and players (yes, I was a fan of the Oakland A’s during that crazy 2001-2002 run). I loved baseball and it seemed that it loved me right back.
And then the age of steroids came in and it ruined the game I loved. Players that I once admired and cheered for were caught up in scandal (I spent my ink toner printing out stats and pictures for my collection…how dare they?!). It seemed to be everywhere and a young adult realizing this, I decided to walk away from the game in 2012.
I always followed the Yankees from a sideline, but never followed it like I did from 2000-2009. Not even the allure of Aaron Judge was able to bring me back in 2017 (I was able to see them in the post season). But something happened in 2018.
I got a free year of MLB games which meant that I had an incentive to see what the fuss was about these so-called Baby Bombers and what the other teams are doing. Watching the first game of the 2018 Yankees season flooded my mind and heart with the emotions I felt as that 12 year-old girl who followed them in 2000.
The game feels like it did, and with the way the Yankees are playing this year, it is a great time to be a Yankee fan. But I noticed that the game has changed quite a bit since 2012. The analytics, the post-steroid era (it’s still there but its punished harsher now), the changing of the guard in MLB leadership and vision, and the role that young players are having on a sport that continues to grumble about what others seem to like and don’t like.
This blog is my journey in trying to catch up to the game, understanding where it is going. Things have changed since I was 12, but one thing remains the same: I still love my Yankees and my béisbol.