A friend pointed out that irony of New York’s having become, since 11 September 2001, a symbol of American patriotism–and sometimes excessive nationalism. Many people in the middle regions of the United States see New York as overly ethnic, liberal, irreligious (or at least non-Protestant), decadent (think Stonewall), and intellectual (could this be worst of all?). But what more potent symbol now that the city of New York?
For New Yorkers, I am learning, what really counts as a symbol of the city and its diverse citizens is the New York Yankees baseball team. I was on the subway on Monday morning and heard two men talking about the game that night. As one got off he touched the “NYY” on his chest and said, “I’m a Yankee all the way.”
A number of my friends and colleagues are huge Yankees fans, as I first learned from their Skype profiles. I’ve ended up watching the Yankees play a few times lately with New York friends. When I mentioned this to Liz Steffey, back here in the office, she straightened up and looked me up and down. “You know you’re a Red Sox fan, right?” she demanded. “You wouldn’t ever, ever cheer for them, would you?” Naturally, I swore allegiance to the Sox, and I’ve even added that to my Skype profile so there won’t be any mistake. But I was touched by the Yankees coach Joe Torre’s press conference last night, after the team got knocked out, when he said that his 12 years with the team has gone by like 10 minutes. He referred to 2004 as that terrible year: the year they lost to the Sox in the World Series, the year when all over Massachusetts, even out here in the Berkshire Hills, people drove around at midnight honking their horns over the longed-for victory.
As ever, I am doomed to divided loyalties. But please, please, don’t tell Liz!