Even though my father always rooted for the Metropolitans, when I was a kid he used to take my sisters and me to Yankee games so we could see Reggie Jackson and Ron "Louisiana Lightning" Guidry in their heyday. I still have the bat from one of those "give-away" night games that we attended. Baseball has been a common bond between my dad and me throughout my life, even if we cheer for different teams.
Although my father grew up a soccer fan, baseball quickly became his adopted sport of preference. Like a true fan, he stuck by his team through all the bad times, which made the good times (the miracle season of 1969, the memorable championship year of 1986) all the more sweet.
I don't remember why he took me to Yankee games as a kid when his heart was with the Mets. Maybe because the Yankees were all the buzz back then and the Mets weren't that good and he wanted to show me some higher caliber baseball. If that was the case, it worked, because I fell in love with the game and never stopped following the Bronx Bombers, even during their playoff drought during the 1980s and early 1990s. Maybe he took me to those games because I whined and begged to go see the Yankees, which all the kids were talking about and all the media were hyping. Whatever the case may be, I thanked him then and I thank him now.
I have grown closer to my dad over the years, and the older I get the more I appreciate all he has done for me. Baseball has been one of the constants throughout my memories -- the World Series between the Yankees and the Mets in the year 2000 was one of the highlights.
So it was fun to watch with my dad as the two aces of both teams squared off on Sunday -- C.C. Sabathia vs. Johann Santana. When Mark Texiera hit the grand slam home run, giving the Yankees a 4-0 lead over the Mets with one dramatic swing of the bat, I felt conflicting emotions -- exuberation at my team's accomplishment and remorse that it came at the expense of my dad's team. But looking over at my father, I could see similar mixed emotions on his face -- disappointment at his team's misfortune but complete satisfaction in spending time watching baseball with his son.
That latter sentiment is what endures and overcomes all else. My mom often says that she doesn't understand what we see in such a "boring sport" as baseball. My dad and I just smile knowingly and keep watching the game.