Last Monday night, I gave up on the library and got back to my room around 9:30 during the seventh inning. Never mind that I hadn’t done any work — there was baseball to watch. Before leaving, I text messaged one of my suitemates to make sure the game was on TV. I should have known better: Of course a playoff game will be on TV. But I’ve become real skeptical about baseball since getting to college.
Sometimes I think I’m the only baseball fan in New Haven. Where I come from, everyone’s a baseball fan, even the ones who aren’t. You can’t get away with saying you have no preference between the Mets and Yankees. Saying you like them both doesn’t cut it either. New York is a baseball town. The Jets and Giants actually play in New Jersey, and the last time anyone cared about the Knicks, Patrick Ewing still had to worry about facing Michael Jordan in the playoffs. In New Haven, it’s different.
My FOOT trip freshman year gave me hints that I was in for something new. It was fun, but it was six days in the woods with no baseball talk. No sports talk, really, except from the kid who taught us his high school’s football fight song and told us about their mandatory pep rallies. He’s from Texas. Apparently they do that there. But he hadn’t been to a baseball game since he was in Atlanta. For the Olympics. In 1996.
Things haven’t gotten much better since freshman year. I’ve met a couple baseball fans — a Dodgers fan from L.A., some Cubs fans from Chicago, a Mariners fan from the Northwest. And loads of New Englanders who have it in their blood to root for the Red Sox while knowing the Sox will lose — their genetic makeup ingrains an unshakable losing complex that has only become complicated, not eliminated, since the Sox championship three years ago. I respect and appreciate these other baseball fans, and our numbers are small, so I can’t afford to piss any of them off. But I don’t get much from them. Their passion is missing. It’s not what I’m used to. Did I mention that New Haven, all of 90 minutes outside New York, doesn’t get Mets games on TV? It really sucks here sometimes.
During the 2000 Subway Series between the Mets and Yankees, when the teams met in the World Series for the first time, the city visibly divided along rivalry lines. People wore Yankee navy blue or Mets blue and orange (the official colors of the city of New York, I remind Yankees fans) for a week. You couldn’t avoid the excitement; it was out on the streets, in every office and school, before the Yankees ended it all by winning the series in five games. I don’t remember crying that night, but then again, I don’t remember that night. I must have cried.
At Yale, life isn’t much fun for a baseball fan. Since we students come from all over the country (“And the world!” President Levin interjects), there are never many fellow fans of your team, whether that team is the Tigers or the A’s. As a Mets fan, surrounded by New Yorkers, I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a Royals fan here. That guy must be really lonely.
But last week, when I ditched my schoolwork — as I so often do here — and headed for the TV during a baseball game — as I so often did at home — a brief window of pleasure for baseball fans opened. The playoffs had arrived and had come a day early. The Colorado Rockies won 13 of their last 14 games to finish tied with the San Diego Padres.
Now, I’m like you: I don’t care about the West Division, the West Coast, or the Mountain West. But when a team goes on a run like that, I start to pay attention. The Rockies were doing something impressive. They had soared through September and forced a one-game playoff with the Padres. That was the game I left the library for. And when they went down by two runs in the 13th inning, only to come back for three more in the bottom of the inning, I could feel something special. I watched the game in my college common room with a bunch of screaming Morsels — led by the one Rockies fan among us, my suitemate Phil from Cheyenne, Wyo. Yeah, my team had been knocked out of the playoffs only the day before, but I could feel some pleasure for Phil’s happiness and the happiness of others — the Rockies fans of the world. There are baseball gods out there, and sometimes they make miracles happen. The Rockies were riding one of those miracles.
And, believe it or not, I experienced a miracle of my own thanks to them: I discovered the baseball fans I’ve been missing. I’m not sure where they’d been hiding, but they came out of the woodwork the next day. Fifty-four Yalies hail from the great state of Colorado, and I seemed to bump into most of them the day their Rockies pushed their way into the postseason.
Marty wore a white T-shirt with “I left my Rockies shirt in Denver” written, in sharpie, over a sketch of the Rockies’ logo. And Jake was elated: “It’s not real. I’m still waiting to wake up. I’ve been waiting 15 years for this.” Sorry, Jake, it’s only been 12 years since your Rockies made the playoffs, but I’ll let that slide. Apparently, Rockies fans — even those not enrolled in Yale College — are part of the community, too. “There’s a guy who works in DUH who did some blood work on me,” Jake told me. “He called me with the results — all good — and said he was cheering for the Rockies.”
Rockies fans, enjoy yourselves. I’m enjoying myself just watching you.
Pete Martin is a sophomore in Morse College.