Sunday, July 12, 2009

Transformations in the Works

Two things have happened this weekend. First,

I Did All My Food Prep

All of that food prep I spelled out in the last blog entry? I fucking did it all. And I did most of it tonight. Only thing that sucked today was that I didn't make it to the gym. Let's hear it for Vitamin B-12, the MS wonder drug! This wasn't as much work as the old Talal would have done, that's true. But, get this--I don't give a fuck because it's beginning to approach respectability!

Neil Parekh Has Taken Up the Quest for My Baseball Soul

Get this, all ye non-pedagogical baseball fans who care nothing for my sporting soul. My friend Neil is actually taking up the challenge of trying to convert me into a baseball fan. At stake is my long-standing pledge to swear undying loyalty to the team of the friend who achieves this feat. So while Michelle and Gretchen will be pleased, the rest of you are screwed, 'cause Neil Parekh is a fan of the Evil Empire of the sporting world--the New York Yankees.

Last night, Neil went over lesson one. "Repeat after me: The Yankees are not evil."

"What do you mean, the Yankees are not evil?" I ask. "They can buy whatever the hell they want, right? If I'm to sell my soul here, damn it, they'd better dominate!"

Neil spewed a list of impressive names that included Derek Jeter (see, I've learned one name already and I allegedly think this sport is boring--maybe Neil's magic is working) and said, "These guys are the core of our team! All of them came up through the farm system!"

I leaned in closer to him and said, "Yeah, sure, they farmed the core of the team, but the Yankees can buy whoever they want, right? Biggest market in baseball, right?"

"Well, yeah, it's true. But there are limits to that. We haven't taken the pennant since 2001..." This was a moment of troubled reflection, but Neil quickly switched to a different, more urgent line of thought and said, "But, Talal, you've got to drop this evil empire crap. This would be like if I went to you and said, 'I want to become an ardent student of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. I hear the Arabs are a bunch of terrorists.' It would never work."

"Ah," I said. "But if you said to me, 'I wish to become an ardent student of the Arab-Israeli Conflict--teach me and I will become an Arab,' nothing you could say could bother me, for I know your soul will be mine. Powerful Jedi am I."

By the way, my pledge is no cheap offer either. I'm not that low-caliber kinda geek, here. If Neil can teach me to yearn for pitchers and catchers reporting to camp every spring, I have sworn to him that I will go with him in full Yankees-fan gear to Fenway Park itself. Pam, Neil's wife and my dear friend and stalwart colleague at school, is already worried about hate crimes if she gets a job in Boston. Of course, I wouldn't mind working in Boston either. That's the scary thing about this pledge. Imagine if I lived in Boston. It would be like doing field research in Tel Aviv... Oh, wait. I'm doing that, aren't I? What was that thing they were saying about "Never saying never?"

This brings back memories. My first live Wings game was at the MCI Center in Washington, DC. I went with Aram Mohamed (who was the reason I became a Wingnut) and Brian McGrath. There were these pseudo-hockey fans behind us trying to act like they were all tough. This is DC. This is the wrong city and sport combination to have tough fans of any sort. Aram leans over to Brian and me and says, "If these guys want to make trouble later, are you guys behind me?"

"Sure," I say. "But you do realize that the guys behind you will be Brian and me, right?" Boston ain't DC. This time I have to be prepared. If Neil succeeds, I'm going to have to take a martial arts course.

And of course, the worst thing will be that Kirk's wife, Keriann, might not let him play with me anymore. You should have seen the look on her face when I gave Kirk a Red Wings jersey. Like I'd let him become a Bruins fan and doom him to a lifetime of disappointment.


Kirk said...

In all seriousness I wouldn't recommend wearing too much Yankee stuff to Fenway Park, depending on who is sitting in the general vicinity you could be in a for a very unpleasant time. I've seen and heard of many instances where people had beer and food thrown at them, any fans of opposing teams have the possibility of heckled mercilessly and things quite often escalate into actual physical altercations. There are plenty of Yankee fans who have good experiences at Fenway but you really open yourself to potentially ugly situations with a bunch of drunk 20-something Boston guys. The section I sat in last April for a Yankee-Red Sox game had at least 15 or 20 different situations that ended in someone being thrown out, usually due to throwing punches but sometimes throwing beer or food or being just plain obnoxious to the other fans the whole game.

I've heard it's quite the opposite in New York even though Yankee fans are equally or more obnoxious than Red Sox fans. If you show up in Yankee stadium wearing Red Sox stuff you'll hear a few comments but otherwise I've heard things stay generally civilized unless you start acting up yourself, then all bets are off.

Kirk said...

By the way, tell Neil's wife Pam not to worry about hate crimes if she gets a job here (which I'm sure was said mostly in jest anyway). There are lots of Yankee fans who live in the Boston and area as well as the entire New England region and nobody has anything bad happen to them simply because they like the Yankees. The only time you have to be careful is during a Red Sox-Yankee game if you are surrounded by a bunch of drunks and even then the worst that will happen is you'll be heckled mercilessly and some idiot may dump his beer on you. The only time truly nasty things happen are when Yankee fans are totally obnoxious while watching a game at Fenway where, let's face it, the idiot factor is already off the charts to begin with. Just don't encourage the idiots to be even bigger morons and you'll be ok.

Cuphound said...

And you thought I was joking about taking the martial arts course...

Anonymous said...

This is all really pointless unless you have seen them live. I didn't like baseball at all until I went to a White Sox game in April. I'd never been and I'd only seen baseball on TV. It's a completely different experience to see a game live. It must involve large amounts of beer and the energy of the fans. Without those two elements, baseball is boring as shit.

Cuphound said...


Undoubtedly the ambiance of a baseball game is very cool. Even the Mariners do okay. I like the Safe. I've been there about three times. But I've never been able to get into the action.

Neil suggests that being at the game is actually a distraction from the game, owing to the great ambiance. If you really want to watch baseball, he claims, you do at home.

So my theory is that there is a "there" there. I'm guessing that the interpretive skill is a sort of gnostic knowledge that is passed from fan to fan in some ritual that I missed somehow. Maybe it's like some sort of Straussian interpretation of Plato or something...

I'm trying to figure out if I can somehow gain access to this interpretive knowledge. Because as cool as the ambiance may be, I can't bring myself to attend a sports event where the game means nothing to me.