Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Whoever Plays the Yankees

I have an uncle who loves baseball. When I say that, I'm not sure you can quite understand me - unless you have one of those types in your own family. He LOVES baseball.

Now, often team loyalties in sports come through familial ties. A son loves the team his father loves, unless of course, he grows to hate that team. But probably, more often than not, the favorite team passes from father to son. One reason for this may be location - if a boy grows up in Baltimore, just like his father, he's likely to love the Orioles, just like his father.

But for my uncle and his sons, that love of team has gotten a little confused. They've moved all over the country, and while the love of baseball has passed from father to son, the team loyalties are representative of each son's experiences. The youngest, born in Chicago, is a Cubs fan to the end. The middle son, who went to school in Boston, loves the Red Sox. The eldest, living in Minneapolis, has become a Twins fan. They all love baseball, but have their own voices as to which team deserves their fandom.

My uncle, though, has passed one thing along to his sons. You see, he has a favorite team - if you push him, he'd root for the Phillies or the Orioles (one NL, one AL) - but on a day-to-day basis, my uncle's favorite team is whoever plays the Yankees. And this loathing is what he's passed on - they all hate the Yankees. Any chance they have to see the Yankees lose, my uncle and my cousins are there, cheering for the opposition.

I feel the same way about Germany in football. Too many times I've seen the powerhouse nation crush the hopes of the underdog. I was in Czech Republic during the 1996 final EuroCup game, and listened to the silent streets when Germany defeated them in extra time. I've watched them defeat my favorite England in various matches. Any chance I have to see Germany lose, then, and I'm cheering for the opposition.

Here's the problem, though. Germany's good. Really good. I actually really enjoy watching them play. I went into Sunday's game slightly hopeful, but my hope in Australia was crushed, then crushed again, then crushed for a third time, and a fourth. Yeah. It was painful. I have a fondness for Spain simply because they beat Germany two years ago in the EuroCup final...and they got upset yesterday by the Swiss - I wonder if the majority of the Swiss team is German- or French-speaking?

But hey, upsets happen. The other day New Zealand pulled out an equalizer in the final minute of extra time. Today Mexico beat France by two. And maybe I can take comfort in that. Because tomorrow morning a little country I wouldn't typically root for is playing Germany, and it's pretty likely that they will fail miserably.

But I'll be rooting for an upset - by Serbia of all teams - because, when it comes down to it, I cheer for whoever plays the Germans.

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