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Rivals-In-Law

24 Apr

I am a Red Sox fan.

I grew up idolizing Dwight Evans (DEWEY!), I cried after Game 6 – not only because I suddenly owed Howard Elkies two dollars – and I was on the streets of Boston for the duck boat parade in 2004.

Last week, my father-in-law sent my son a Yankees shirt.

HULK SMASH!

In case you’re an alien: Yankees fans and Red Sox fans don’t get along, last week’s display of solidarity notwithstanding*. Wearing Yankees gear is incomprehensible to me – to pretty much all Sox fans – and vice versa. It’s just not something you’d even consider. Hulk, comics, superheroes, Red Sox, Boston, New York, Yankees, sports, family, life, parenting, toddlers, dads, fatherhood

Born and raised a Red Sox fan in Connecticut, I’m quite used to dealing with the enemy. I grew up in a divided family (my oldest brother recruited me to the Sox side, my dad and other brother are Yankees fans, and my mom abstained until she fell in love with Derek Jeter), on the Yankees side of a divided state, and I escaped without incident. Even after five years in NYC and one night when I told some dude I was going to “smash [his] sideburns upside [his] face.”

Sure, in 2003 I went two weeks without speaking to my brother after Grady left Pedro in an inning too long, and even now every time we chat about who cheats more and who buys more players and why Jeter is overrated and remember that idiot Kevin Maas?!, one of us usually hangs up in anger. But we’ve never come to blows.

Most teams have bitter rivals; it’s part of being a fan. It just so happens that the Boston/New York relationship is particularly bitter. But still, provided everyone is sober, most rivalry-based conflicts never escalate past friendly ribbing. Unless you’re at a Raiders game.

sports, baseball, varitek, a-rod, yankees, red sox, rivalry, parenting, dads, fatherhood, family, pop culture, Boston, New YorkIt’s just sports, I don’t take it that that seriously. Of course, now I have a son.

My father-in-law, if you haven’t guessed, is a Yankees fan. And while we have a good relationship – our only quarrel is over my theft of his daughter (the song they danced to at my wedding was the vaguely threatening “I Loved Her First”) – gifting a Yankees shirt to my son reeks of antagonism.

My son is two. He didn’t ask for a Yankees shirt. No, he didn’t ask for any of the Red Sox stuff I’ve already bought him either, but he’s my son, I own him, and it’s my right to indoctrinate him into whatever clubs I want. My father-in-law had his kids already, and they all like Nascar, so that’s a win for him (he’d better not come near my kid with any of that junk either!). My son is going to be a Red Sox fan until he chooses otherwise.

My brother is the biggest Yankees fan I know, and he wouldn’t dare give my son a Jeter shirt or a Yankees cap. That doesn’t mean he won’t try to influence my son down the line, taking him to games and trying to sway his loyalty. But he’ll at least wait until my son can make his own decisions, boneheaded though they may be. As a sports fan, trying to poach someone’s kid is typically just a line you don’t cross, like calling to gloat after a particularly heart-wrenching loss, or openly rooting against someone else’s team purely for spite. sports, Red Sox, Boston strong, Yankees, baseball, fatherhood, parenting, toddlers, rivalry, in-laws, family

To be fair, the package my father-in-law sent also included a Red Sox shirt, which is an indication that he knew what he was doing: giving me shit. Which is perfectly acceptable behavior for rivals. So I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, we’re both Miami Dolphins fans, so he’s not all bad. Unfortunately, my wife – who has no real investment but would call herself a Sox fan – decided to side with her father, and announced that not only were we keeping the Yankees shirt, but our son would wear it.

Things got a tad heated for a bit, but in the interest of not sleeping on the couch, I finally relented:

He can wear the Yankees shirt. But only as a diaper.

And only if she can find it…

*In the scheme of things, sporting conflicts pale in comparison to things like the bombing at the marathon, and had the Yankees – and other teams around MLB – not set aside the rivalry, it would have been reprehensible. But don’t worry, it’s only temporary.

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5 Responses to “Rivals-In-Law”

  1. blowingoffsteamandmore April 24, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    That shirt would be used to clean the toilets in my house. Jeter is a pretty boy and the fact that A-Rod used to be a part of my family (his ex-wife Cynthia is my dad’s 2nd cousin) makes me twitchy. I have to say though, I was 100% on your side with the Rex Sox, Connecticut thing as my entire family still lives in CT but then you had to go an admit that you are a Dolphins fan. So sad. Go Patriots!!

  2. CJ Cat April 24, 2013 at 5:57 pm #

    What do you do when he starts Little League and they assign him to the Yankees? Do you make him take off all of his Yankees gear before entering the house – hell even the car? As a Giants fan I hate the Dodgers and have a shirt from when I was kid that says as much. If my son is ever placed on the Dodgers in Little League I may have to root against him – seriously. Sometimes I hate being a fan.

  3. Kelsey April 24, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

    This made me laugh so hard and at the same time I am conflicted. Like CJ Cat. I am a Giants fan, and I live in LA. Meaning my kids will grow up in LA and well.. influences may happen, but If my kids wears a Dodgers jersey in our household he is disowned. My husband does not feel this strongly, but he is an apathetic sports watcher to begin with. I grew up with season tickets and spending many nights watching my Giants play with my Dad. I am lucky overall though, that all my In Laws are Giants fans. So, this issue wouldn’t come up.

    And I will admit that when I began to read this article I found it silly, until I reminded myself I would probably do the same. However… I would probably suck it up if this were to ever happen. Being a friend or relative have it to me. There would be conditions. Like the child will wear it for one text message photo and if you take child to any of the games. However, this person would also receive a mouthful from me. Overall. I can see both sides. and enjoyed this article throughly.

  4. RobJules April 24, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

    Weren’t his first words “Go Yankees!”?
    I believe they were.
    He shall join the empire!!!

  5. Lance April 25, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    Those heated rivalries are tough…

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