By Jason Keidel
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Forget the searing cultural differences between Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials, which are many. On this we must show solidarity.READ MORE: COVID Restrictions: New York City Restaurants Can Increase Capacity, New Jersey Raises Gathering Limits
David Ortiz wants an ovation from Yankees fans as he winds down his historic career, one that was particularly venomous to the Yankees.
No. No @#$%&! way.
Anyone over 25 has to wince at the prospect of Pinstriped Public Enemy No. 1 getting a Caesar’s welcome in the Bronx.
It’s quite enough that we must gag on this sense of esprit de corps among pro athletes, where NFL, NBA, and MLB ballers are all buddies. They keep each other buried into their cellphones, snap selfies at postgame dinners, attend each other’s golf tournaments, and all but live together, despite their biblical paychecks dependent upon destroying each other on the diamond, hardwood, or gridiron.
Would Yankees fans have lavished Ted Wiliams with a gold-plated fishing rod? Would they have given Jim Rice or Carl Yastrzemski a Cadillac?
This is more than troubling. This is nauseating.
What’s worse is that more than a few local fans will be good with it. Why not? they say. He’s been a great player for a long time. He’s earned his moment under the moon.
Because you can’t be happy when your enemy prospers, even for a moment. Because rivalries are competition, and competition is the baseline of sports. Being a real fan is equal parts love for your team and contempt for theirs. It’s why the final score matters.READ MORE: NYC Parks Employee Slashed Across Face And Chest On The Job In The Bronx
Just about every fan of every team has a moment. Maybe you were at Game 6 of the 1977 World Series. Maybe you were at the Aaron Boone game. I was a few rows back from Derek Jeter when he flung himself into the stands for that pop-up against … the Red Sox. Jeter emerged with a minefield of bumps and cuts on his face, and countless New Yorkers fell in love in one night. Because he did it against Boston.
If we root for Ortiz, even for a night, it calls into question are entire fandom. If sports are to become an embellished group hug, then don’t worry about who wins, or why, or how. You love everyone. Good luck with that.
You could argue one of the reasons attendance is down at Yankees games — along with the colossal prices they charge and the fact that they don’t have their mail forwarded to ALCS anymore — is this, the pungent air of brotherhood among longtime enemies.
You can’t root for Duke and cheer North Carolina. You can’t adore USC and clap for UCLA. You can’t embrace the Rangers and the Islanders. And you can’t be a Yankees fan and cheer for Ortiz, the avatar of the most gut-wrenching loss in franchise history.
Ortiz even mentioned 2004 during his plea for an ovation, as if that should endear him to the Big Apple. He had the nerve to use our most humiliating playoff performance as a springboard to goodwill.
Hatred fuels athletic performance, and the fans’ intensity. Imagine a world without Ali/Frazier, Leonard/Duran, Hagler/Hearns, and Tyson/Holyfield. (Or Ray Robinson and Jake LaMotta, for older fans.)
Imagine a world without rivalries.
Imagine a world where we root for David Ortiz.MORE NEWS: NYPD: Douglas Young Charged With Murder In Deadly Shooting Of DoorDash Worker Francisco Villalva Vitinio
Follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel