Back when Ziggy was Ziggy and all was wright in my world, we would snuggle on the couch and watch the news until he would announce, “It’s time to make the donuts.” He'd disappear into his study and write Ziggy’s Joke o’the Day, and then I would be summoned for the final edit.
Lying in state on the couch this evening, watching ANTIQUES ROADSHOW, I suddenly caught myself thinking it’s time to make the donuts. Okay, then. This one’s for Ziggy.
There is nothing more challenging in the state of Minnesota than having to live with a displaced New Yorker. We are a surly bunch, feeling like we live in exile in a place where no one understands/appreciates/likes us. We tawk fuhnny, we wawk fast, we don’t put mayonnaise on meat sandwiches or eat hot-dish, and we know the differences between half-sour and dill pickles. We take our baseball very seriously, and we have a long standing love/hate relationship with ALL our teams, past and present.
My first love was Peewee Reese. I thought he was great. The BROOKLYN Dodgers were the best team on the planet. It was a personal affront when they went west, one which I will personally never forgive. Out of sheer four-year-old spite, I became a Yankee fan.
In 1969, the year of the miracles, I was in high school. I watched Neil Armstrong take that one small step for man in front of a teeny-tiny TV in Jerusalem. I listened to first hand accounts of the mud mess at Max Yasgur’s farm in Woodstock from my friends. But it was jumping up and down in the Wellington C. Mepham High School cafeteria when the Mets took the World Series in Game 5 that made me believe in miracles.
But the Mets are the new team, and they have their issues. During the Subway Series in 2000, I bought a t-shirt for the senior son: THERE’S A REASON THEY CALL IT FLUSHING. Need I say more? (Sorry, Dad.)
Being a Yankees fan is forever. There is nothing to compare to going to the Bronx on a Sunday afternoon to sit in the bleacher cheap-seats of old Yankee Stadium where we could get a tan, read the Times, and occasionally crack a book. The game went on; we watched and we cheered as part of our very consciousness. Life was on the field. And it was as close to heaven as you could get. You never lose the love for that bombastic, pompous, overstuffed pin-striped roster, and you just have to give yourself up to living with it.
But here I am in exile on the tundra that is Minnesota, and you can’t help but love the scrappy Twins. An original Homer Hankie hangs in the study…even though one of the opposing Cardinals was a kid I occasionally babysat...and talked to on the phone right before Game 1 of the ’87 series. They are so clean cut. One lives here in our little town; another I used to see in Lund’s supermarket in the Village where he always had time to reach cans on the top shelf for the little old ladies who knew his grandmother. They are nice guys, clearly good teammates, and community savvy. You want them for your neighbors.
I have always maintained that a Twins v. Yankees game is a win-win situation for me and any other New Yorker living on the tundra. Either way, we see a team we love progress, and we have learned that here in the heartland of passive/aggressive to keep our otherwise acerbic opinions to our own small ranks. And that’s okay.
But I have to be honest, in my heart of hearts, in the deepest part of my soul, I hope they win.
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