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August 12 2000: When Your Friends Aren’t Yankee Fans

(This column originally appeared at, Yankees Xtreme. Reproduced here by permission of Ultrastar.)
It’s hard to be humble when you like the Yankees, isn’t it? We’ve got bragging rights for being the current World Champs, and there’s also the fact that the Bombers are “the most storied franchise in sports history.” As such, even when the Yankees are going through a “rough patch” (like the 1980s…) Yankee fans can still puff out our chests.
In fact, our heads can get downright swelled, which can lead to… well… bad manners on our part when we meet and mingle with fans of other teams. I noticed this at the All-Star Game party some close friends of mine threw–they happen to be Red Sox fans.

These same friends of mine came with me to Fenway Park the night of the 22-1 slaughter back in June, so I really didn’t want to rub their faces in Yankee superiority too much. I wanted to be able to cheer for the same team with them at least once! The game was fun, we all hissed when Chipper Jones came to bat, and we all had a good laugh when David Wells came out to the on deck circle.

I didn’t brag about what a great manager Joe Torre is–I didn’t have to. And of course, Derek Jeter got the MVP that night, while Nomar Garciaparra made that weird error… oops, so much for being humble about Yankee superiority.

So, this got me thinking, what CAN you say to your baseball-loving friends who aren’t Yankee fans? Here are my ten cocktail party tips for talking baseball with non-Yankee fans without seeming like a jerk.

1. Tell people your favorite player is Clay Bellinger. Non-Bomber fans will say “who?” Now you can tell them how Clay was the first player in Columbus Clippers history to play all nine positions in a single game.

2. Adopt an underdog team. I suggest the Cubs. Not only are they in the National League as well as very unlikely to ever cause you a post-season conflict, they haven’t won a series since 1912. That’s even worse than the Red Sox, so you can get sympathy even from Sox fans. Besides, Joe Girardi’s there now.

3. Talk about a great former Yankee who plays for your friend’s favorite team. Example: “Gee, Boomer’s tearing up Toronto, isn’t he?” Note: It is NOT polite to say “Well, we just can’t keep ALL the great players.”

4. Talk about a former Yankee who also formerly played for your friend’s team. Note: You’ll probably get a very different reaction by mentioning Wade Boggs to a Red Sox fan than, say, Rickey Henderson to a Mets fan.

5. If you get on the subject of the baseball greats of yesteryear, be sure to make passing mention of Ty Cobb, Ted Williams, and/or Hank Aaron before you go on to Ruth, Gehrig and DiMaggio.

6. If your friend’s team has a historic, old stadium (or even a terrible, decrepit one) and is getting ready to build a new one, make obligatory noises about the tragic loss of our baseball history.

7. No matter what you do, don’t mention Derek Jeter… unless he or she mentions him first, of course.

8. If the Yankees have recently made a blockbuster trade, try not to gloat. (I know, I know–David Justice has been making it very hard not to, but please restrain yourself.) The correct thing to say is “who knew?” or maybe “we’ll see how he does in October.” Oops, that’s making the assumption we’ll be playing in October. Well, I never said being humble was going to be easy, did I?

9. If it’s the off season, you can always say “Everyone’s tied for first place on Opening Day.”

10. And if it’s the postseason, well maybe you better not open your mouth at all. It just wouldn’t be fair.

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