Last week, we discussed the Importance of Being a Baseball Fan. Here in New York, the real fans are the ones who listen obsessively to Sports Radio Sixty-Siiiiiix, Double-You Eff Ay Ennnn…the FAN!! The song is playing in my head right now, even though (and this is important) I have never tuned in to WFAN on my own. It’s just…here. On. Most of the year (not hockey season).
The Fan is a station that understands the New York City fan base. Like New York, WFAN sportscasters are quirky and sarcastic. Here’s an example. Chris Berman, currently of ESPN (though maybe not forever), started out on Fan Radio by giving everyone a clever nickname. Steve Avery became Steve “Poison” Avery – get it? Jeff Bronkey became Jeff “pin the tail on the” Bronkey. Harold “Growing” Baines. Mike “Pepperoni” Piazza. Jake “Daylight Come and You Gotta” Delhomme. Sammy “say it Ain’t” Sosa.
Scott “Supercalifragilisticexpiali” Brosius.
Chris came up with so many (list is here), that people started to complain. It’s stupid! It’s offensive! It’s taking away from the august solemnity of the game (*snort*)! The Faceless Suits told Chris to knock it off. But this is baseball. Was Chris going to give up so easily? What would you have done? I know you – you’d just keep right on giving everyone a stupid nickname, and then get your fans to tweet nasty remarks to the Faceless Suits.
But not Chris. No, Chris took a different approach. Instead of proceeding with more nicknames, he started calling EVERYONE by the name on their birth certificate. Mookie Wilson became William Hayward Wilson. Babe Ruth became George Herman Ruth, Jr. Finally, the Suits got the point and caved. By that time, players who didn’t have a stupid Christ Berman nickname were complaining that they wanted one.
Another favorite from the FAN is “Let me write that down”. It’s a standard reply given by Steve Somers, long-in-the-tooth sportscaster (his podcast here) and one of Al’s favorites.
“Hey Steve! If the Yankees got great pitching and if all their players hit homers at every at-bat, they’d win the World Series!”
“REALLY?” Steve would gasp. “Let me write that down! Hold on, let me get a pencil….. if… the… yankees… had… great… pitching…. and…. always…. hit… homers… they…would… win. I think I got it!”
“Hey Steve! Washington should trade Bryce Harper to the Mets for Logan Verrett! That would really help the Mets win some ball games!”
“REALLY? Let me write that down! If… Washington…. gave…. their… best…. player…to… the Mets…. and…. got…. their…. worst…. player…. instead…. it would…. be a….good thing…. for … the Mets. I think I got it!”
The Hub (Al) uses this all the time. “Hey Al, if you leave the house earlier, you won’t be late to work!” “REALLY? Let me write that down.”
When you’re not listening to The Fan, you can try out some actual live baseball in New York City. Here’s how.
The Yankees at Yankee Stadium. It’s overpriced and definitely not the house that Ruth built. That being said, it really is a very nice place. Go and see it. Don’t try to drive there. Don’t try to take a cab or an Uber there. There are trains, buses, and ferries, so take one of them.
The Mets at Citi Arena. I like the Mets. At least, I don’t hate them. I kinda root for them most of the time, unless they are playing the Yankees (because I am a Yankee-in-law). But Met fans DO hate the Yankees. This is rooted in history. The Yankees were the traditional rival of the Brooklyn Dodgers. If I had been around back then, I would have been a Dodger fan too. But the Dodgers left Brooklyn for Los Angeles in 1952 (and got
dubbed the “L.A. fruitcakes” by disgruntled local fans), and Brooklyn never really got over it. Dodger fans were left high and dry. Then, the Mets came along ten years later. No self-respecting Dodger fan would ever be a Yankee fan, so the Mets got them.
Plus, the Mets play in Queens, so if you live in Queens you are a Mets fan. Also, if you move to New York and your team is almost any other team that hates the Yankees (like if you’re from Boston, say,) you could be a Mets fan.
The minor leagues are less expensive and more fun than the majors. We have two in New York City. The Brooklyn Cyclones play for the Mets and the Staten Island Yankees play for…well, you know. Real creative name there, Staten Island! The price is right, and although tickets can sell out, you can usually get something. The stadiums are lovely, with
water views for both and city views for the Yankees. You can get to the Staten Island Yankees on the Staten Island Ferry – it’s a short walk off the boat. The Cyclones are right there in Coney Island, so it’s nothing but summer fun the whole day at the beach and boardwalk, and then a game. Perfect.
Central Park. Nothing is more fun than wandering around in Central Park and finding the small softball leagues playing there. If you’re south of the reservoir, you’re could be seeing corporate leagues (Morgan Stanley vs. Credit Suisse) These are employees who sign up and play games, sometimes for charity. If you’re north of the reservoir, you can see local businesses who sponsor leagues of their own. You might see Cepeda Supply Co. vs. Highbridge Car Service. These folks take it pretty seriously, and some of them are very good. You can buy unauthorized water, beer, and snacks and take in a game for free.
Other parks in all boroughs provide diamonds. Check out the Bronx here and here. Brooklyn has baseball in Prospect Park and Williamsburg. They let you play at night in Queens, or you can try Flushing.
You can play too! Whether you’re a star, a beginner, or you play my position (drinking beer and cheering whenever anyone gets a hit), you can do it! Sign up and show up. Sign up here or here. Or just show up. It’s a summer tradition.