I’ve always been a Yankees fan, since nearly birth. I know, I know. “Evil Empire” and all, but I come by the fandom with righteous reasons.
First, my father instilled the Yankees in me when I was a youngster. He grew up in New Jersey just across the river from New York and would watch and root for DiMaggio, Berra, Mantle and Maris. With a teacher like that, how could I not favor the Yanks?
And, when I moved to Arkansas as a teenager from northern Minnesota, my following the Yankees set me apart from the rest of my classmates, many who tormented me because I was from the north. They called me “Yankee,” with the same vile invective that they reserved for racial slurs. Rather than be offended, I turned it into them calling me by one of my favorite teams.
Despite being a Bronx Bomber, I didn’t hate the Red Sox for years, though. In fact, I rooted for them in the 1975 World Series against Cincinnati. When I was really young, I sent off Corn Flakes box tops and got patches for five teams. I remember getting Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Detroit and ... Boston.
But then 2004 happened and I learned how to hate like a real fan.
The Yanks took their 3-0 lead against Boston in the American League Championship series that year, but the Red Sox battled back and won the next four. They then won the World Series against Colorado.
Two years later, they swept the Cardinals which, because of my proximity to them, became the National League team I followed.
So, my dislike of the Sox came naturally.
But when I replayed 1977’s baseball season with the APBA game a few years ago, the Red Sox defeated Cincinnati in the World Series and I found myself not broken hearted at that. Now, as my 1981 season comes to an end, Boston is out of the pennant race, but I find myself rooting for them to fare well.
How can you not really like the 1981 Red Sox with players such as Fred Lynn, Carl Yastrzemski, Dennis Eckersley, Tony Perez and Rich Gedman.
When you do a replay, rolling dice for each game scheduled for that particular season, teams take on personalities, much like they do in real life. The APBA game is statically based. You roll dice, match up results with numbers on player’s cards, compare those numbers to game results and, voila, the game is played.
You find yourself rooting for teams and players based on how they fare during the season. Quirks come out, and the Red Sox had some fun quirks to watch as I replayed 1981. Dave Stapleton hit home runs in the APBA game above his real totals for the season. In 1981, Stapleton hit 10 home runs for the real Red Sox. In my game, he has 22 homers. Pitcher Frank Tanana, despite receiving a “D” for his pitching grade in the game (grades factor in the determination of plays at times), won games and he struck out a lot of batters.
I don’t know how this will translate into the real season this year. Will my mild interest in the Red Sox carry over to the actual games? I doubt I’ll root for the Sox over the Yankees, but at least the APBA game helped absolve some of the hatred I had for that team.
Now, if the game can remove my dislike for the Cubs, it’ll really be doing something.