All posts by bdelpozo24

Yes, I am a die-hard fan of the New York Yankees and The New England Patriots.

“A Patriots fan? Don’t you know you live in New York?”

“Patriots? But Red Sox fans root for them.”

“The Yankees AND the Patriots? You must be the world’s biggest front-runner.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten the responses above, or some derivative thereof. Honestly, I’ve probably linked you to this blog because you asked me how I could be a fan of the Yankees and the Patriots during some important game one of the two teams is playing and I’m too into the game to rewrite the answer for the thousandth time I’m my life. So for one final, declarative time, here’s the story of a quarterback named Brady…. Sorry, couldn’t resist. Anyway, here’s the story of how and why I’m a diehard fan of the New York Yankees and the New England Patriots.

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Like almost all stories about kids and baseball, my Yankees fandom starts with my father. Dad was a diehard Yankees fan since he came to the US from Cuba in the late 50’s, and it was pretty much indoctrinated in me from birth to be one myself. My earliest baseball memories are of the Yankees being terrible (I was born in 1988, for those keeping score) but that really didn’t matter at that age. As time went on and the Yankees became the late nineties dynasty I was as locked in diehard as a fan can get. I listened to talk radio, watched every inning of NYY baseball I could.

Throughout my teens and early twenties, the Yankees remained a constant in my life and the constant in my relationship with my father. We talked the team all the time, and went to plenty of games, punctuated by a mini-ticket plan during the 2008 season, the final one at the original Yankee Stadium. Our last game together was Game 3 of the 2010 ALDS, and watching the Yankees sweep the Twins out of the Playoffs that night is something I’ll onto forever. My dad and I continued to talk baseball all the time, right up to his death in August of 2014. From then on, the Yankees have been my strongest connection to him. I cried the first time I stepped into Yankee Stadium after he passed, and chose to spend Father’s Day 2015 there in order to be close to him. Beyond any on-field success the team has had or will have, that connection will always keep my dyed in pinstripes forever.

New York Yankees player Jeter celebrates as he holds the World Series trophy with teammates in New YorK
New York Yankees player Derek Jeter (C) celebrates as he holds the World Series trophy with teammates (L-R) A.J. Burnett, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Robinson Cano after the Yankees defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 6 to win the 2009 Major League Baseball World Series in New York, November 4, 2009. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine (UNITED STATES SPORT BASEBALL IMAGES OF THE DAY)

My football fandom also has a connection to my dad, albeit a less direct one. We used to watch the NFL Films Super Bowl Highlight Videos that ESPN would air daily, especially around the NFL Playoffs. To this day, I think I can still recite most of the 70’s and 80’s episodes line for line. My dad didn’t have a football team though, as the only team he really cared about were the Yankees. That left me open to choose my own NFL Franchise to root for, and I did so somewhere in 1993 or 1994 when I fell in love with the Drew Bledsoe-led New England Patriots. As a kid, I loved the pass-happy offense and the Pats uniforms (especially the royal blue, giant flying Elvis versions that lasted from 1995-1999).

Drew Bledsoe
25 Oct 1998: Quarterback Drew Bledsoe #11 of the New England Patriots in action during the game against the Miami Dolphins at the Pro Player Stadium in Miami, Florida. The Dolphins defeated the Patriots 12-9.

However, my Patriots fandom was a bit under the radar. Since I obviously wasn’t old enough to go to restaurants or bars, I could only follow the Pats by watching other games and following their scores and always anxiously awaited the Pats annual games with the Jets and relatively rare (back then) nationally broadcast New England. I also didn’t own any Pats gear, as back then in the pre-Internet world it was a lot harder to get paraphernalia for non-local teams back then, especially for an also-ran team like the Pats. And make no mistake, the Patriots were an also-ran of the highest order. Sure they’d been to two Super Bowls (getting creamed by the Bears in Super Bowl XX before I was born, and again by the Packers in Super Bowl XXXI when I was nine) but outside of those years the team was mediocre at best most years. Obviously that changed when the Brady/Belichick era began in earnest in 2001. In fact, I often tell a 100% true anecdote that I went from being mocked for being liking a crap team to being a front-runner literally overnight.

The explosion of the Patriots as a national team, combined with my aging into adulthood have made it much easier to be a Pats fan in New York. Between availability in stores and online shopping, I have a veritable war-chest of New England gear to wear to bars and restaurants to watch any Pats games not broadcast in NYC. Meanwhile Twitter and social media have allowed me to connect to other Pats fans and Boston media the same way I always have with the Yankees.

Super Bowl XLIX - New England Patriots v Seattle Seahawks
GLENDALE, AZ – FEBRUARY 01: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates with the vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 during Super Bowl XLIX at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The TL;DR version of above is this: I’ve been a Yankees fan since birth, I’ve been a Patriots fan for over 20 years, and I don’t really care what anyone thinks of that. That said, I do want to bring this back full-circle to the questions I listed above and a couple of others I get often, with a few of my thoughts on them.

“How can you root for the Patriots when you’re from New York?”

-This one mystifies me honestly. I’ve never really understood the concept of rooting for a team because they’re from where I’m from. I don’t root for the Knicks or Rangers, nor did I root for the Mets in the World Series this past year. I root for my teams because they’re my teams, not because of where they’re from.

“But the Yankees have a rivalry with Boston.”

-No, the Yankees have a rivalry with the Boston Red Sox. Last time I checked, the Yankees and Patriots play two completely different sports.

“Doesn’t it bother you that the Patriots winning makes Red Sox fans happy?”

-I always laugh at this one. Firstly because no, I don’t define my enjoyment of something by worrying if someone else may be enjoying it. Secondly, it’s weird specifically coming from New York sports fans since NYC has two teams in EVERY major sport. I’m sure there are Jets and Giants fans who like the Yankees, or Rangers and Islanders fans who like the Mets, or etc. do they ever get asked that question? I’m sure the answer is no.

“The Yankees AND Patriots? YOU’RE A FRONT-RUNNER.”

-I generally don’t care about being called a front-runner. I know I’ve been VERY lucky to get nine titles (and counting) out of the two sports franchises I root for. That said, I’ve been rooting for the Yankees since before I can remember coherent thought and the Patriots for roughly 22 of my 27 years on Earth. At different times over that period, both teams have achieved greatness, been terrible, and everything in between. So quite frankly no, I’m not a front-runner on any level.

7 Moments in 7 Days: #1 Tino Ties It Up

*In the week until the Yankees open the 2015 season I’ll be counting down, one a day, my personal Top 7 Yankees Moments of all time.*

I bet I can hear what some of you are thinking right now:

“The Yankees have won 5 World Series Championships in his lifetime, and he picks a moment from one they lost? And it wasn’t even the biggest Home Run in the series. What about Jeter’s Mr. November shot or Brosius in Game 5?”

To answer the first, I’ll go back to what I said way back in the first entry on this countdown, I love the 2001 Yankees, especially their Playoff run. I’m sure being 13 at the time and trying to comprehend 9/11 helps that, as the team stands out as the only normal thing about that fall. Moving beyond that, October 2001 is the last time the Yankees felt invincible. I talked in the Boone entry about how the 2003 ALCS/Pennant was in retrospect the end of the Yankees Dynasty, but even by then the 2002 ALDS and Game 7 of the 2001 World Series had happened and losing felt like a real possibility. Sure the Yankees had lost the 97 ALDS to Sandy Alomar and the Indians, but the 96/97 Torre teams were viewed differently, even then. The 1998-2001 simply never lost. Going into the aforementioned Game 7 of the 01 World Series (I game that still makes me queasy to even think about) the Yankees had won 11 straight Playoff series, and amassed a 43-14 PO record since 1998, and the Tino Home Run is an ultimate symbol of the way those teams found a way to ALWAYS pull victory of of thin air. As for the second point, I’m going to give you so more words of baseball wisdom from my late father: “Without Tino, the other two don’t happen.” It’s simple and common sense, but true. There is no Jeter Walk-off or Brosius second night in a row without Tino tying up Game 4. Now as we sit on the eve of the 2015 Yankees season, I can only hope this year (however unlikely it looks) produces a moment that can crack this list. That said, I’ll be there for every step of the journey either way.

Post Script: The Tino Home Run also gave me a life-long love affair with Tubthumping by Chumbawumba. So if any of my karaoke partners are reading this, you can blame Tino Martinez.

7 Moments in 7 Days: #2 Aaron goes Boone.

*In the week until the Yankees open the 2015 season I’ll be counting down, one a day, my personal Top 7 Yankees Moments of all time.*

October 16, 2003 (My Dad’s 53rd Birthday):

“Rivera’s out after three innings, they have to score now or the game’s over.” – My Dad.

“Agreed.” – Me.

“Who leads off?” – My Dad.

“Boone.” – Me

“Just put an out on the board already.” – My Dad.

“Hey, he could hit a home run as a birthday gift to you.” – Me.

“That’s about as likely as me driving to the Bronx and hitting one.” – My Dad.

Yes, the above conversation actually did happen in my living during the commercial break between the top and bottom of the eleventh inning of Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS. Now, I’m not saying I “predicted” Aaron Boone’s Walk-Off Home Run, because frankly my comment was a sarcastic joke brought on by the hours of insanity that was that game. I’ve never sat through a more stressful sporting event than that Game 7 (the only thing close is Super Bowl 42, and that didn’t end well). Between the Yankees having lost the chance to clinch in Game 6, the early deficit, the despair of being shut down by Pedro, the euphoria of the Jeter/Bernie/Matsui/Posada eighth inning rally, and the stomach twisting dread of extra innings I was practically physically ill when Aaron Boone launched a Tim Wakefield knuckleball into the left field seats and gave the Yankees their 40th Pennant. In retrospect, it’s also the last moment of the Late 90’s/Early 00’s Yankees Dynasty.It capped their 6th American League Pennant in 8 seasons, the last of the Joe Torre era, and the end of a true golden era in New York baseball history. Things have been mostly good, sometimes great since, but never the same.

7 Moments In 7 Days: #3 DJ3K

*In the week until the Yankees open the 2015 season I’ll be counting down, one a day, my personal Top 7 Yankees Moments of all time.*

A couple of days ago when I posted about Derek Jeter’s walk-off hit in his last home game at Yankee Stadium I talked about how I screamed “Of course he did!” Truth be told, that wasn’t the first time I used that phrase in relation to Jeter. That would be the day in July of 2011 when the Captain got his 3000th hit on a booming home run, his second hit of the day. He proceeded to collect three more hits including knocking in the game-winning run because he’s Derek Jeter and those are the type of things he did, the kind of things that make me laugh when people whine about how overrated he is (the fact that he retired with more hits than all but 5 other Major League Baseball players have ever gotten helps with the laughing). Jeter’s 3000th hit also has personal meaning to me. Firstly, it was the last great Yankee moment that I got to watch with my dad. By July 2011 he was sick, but still able to enjoy things like baseball for a but longer. Secondly, anytime I think of the home run, and anything Derek Jeter, IK’m reminded of my great friend Justin Slaton. Someone I met over Twitter discussing Yankees baseball, whose grown into one of my best friends despite the geographic and ideological differences between us just because we share the great link that is baseball.

7 Moments In 7 Days: #4 Bernie and Mo Clinch the Subway Series

*In the week until the Yankees open the 2015 season I’ll be counting down, one a day, my personal Top 7 Yankees Moments of all time.*

I’ve never been (and will probably never be) more nervous for a Yankees Playoff series than I was for the 2000 World Series against the Mets. Even with the Yankees having won 2 World Series in a row, and three out the previous four, the concept of losing to the Mets was something I could never have lived down. Every moment of the 5 game series was an absolute nail-biter for me, and even with the Yankees up 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth in Game 5 (thanks to Luis Sojo) and Mariano Rivera on the mound I just wanted it to be over. After sandwiching a bloop single between 2 quick outs, Mariano got Mike Piazza (because of course Piazza had to come up as the potential tying run) to hit a deep fly ball to center. My heart was in my throat when the ball left the bat, but I’ve never had dread turn to relief as fast as when the ball settled into Bernie Williams’ (my bar-none favorite player of all time) glove. At the time, the win felt monumental, beating the Mets to win a fourth Championship in five years made it feel like the good times would roll on forever in Yankee-land. In retrospect, the win actually seems even larger. It’s the final title of the Torre era, and quite possibly the only Subway I’ll ever see.

7 Moments In 7 Days: #5 Hideki Matsui’s 2009 World Series Home Run

*In the week until the Yankees open the 2015 season I’ll be counting down, one a day, my personal Top 7 Yankees Moments of all time.*

Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I’m not a confident sports fan. Even with all the success my sports teams have had in my lifetime (9 combined titles, 14 combined World Series/Super Bowl appearances) I’m very rarely anything but super-nervous and convinced that the sky is falling. The 2009 Yankees season was, for the most part, no different. Even though the Yankees had been baseball’s best team during the regular season, I was nervous going into the Playoffs. Even after the Yankees swept the Twins, I was nervous about the ALCS. Even after the Yankees eliminated the Angels relatively handily in the ALCS, I was nervous going into the World Series. Even with the Yankees up 3-2 in the series, I was incredibly nervous going into Game 6 vs the Phillies at Yankee Stadium. All that makes what happened in the second inning all the more strange for. As soon as Hideki Matsui’s 2-run home run off of Pedro Martinez landed in the right field seats I knew the Yankees were winning the World Series that night. Even when the Phiiles cut the lead in half the following inning, my weird confidence never faltered.

7 Moments In 7 Days: #6. Derek Jeter’s Final Home Game Walk-Off.

*In the week until the Yankees open the 2015 season I’ll be counting down, one a day, my personal Top 7 Yankees Moments of all time.*

Derek Jeter’s final game at Yankee Stadium was an emotional time for me. From the obvious baseball standpoint I was watching the great Yankee of my generation, probably the greatest Yankee I’ll ever see, play his final home game. On top of that, the game was just over a month removed from my father’s death. Like many baseball fans, my dad was the driving force in my fandom from an early age and it was from him that developed my love of the game and the Yankees. Suffice to say, I  emotionally cried throughout the game’s first 8 innings. I was so drained that I barely got upset when David Robertson blew the save in the ninth inning, however (like every other twitter user in the world) I quickly put together that Jeter was coming up third in the bottom of the ninth and the idea of a walk-off popped into my brain. By the time Derek came up with a runner on second, there’s was no doubt in my mind that the game was about to end. When it did, I screamed “Of COURSE he did!” and proceeded to leap around my living room.

Stay tuned tomorrow for the countdown’s first dose of October Home Run heroics.

7 Moments In 7 Days: #7. Yankees Clinch 2001 American League Division Series

*In the week until the Yankees open the 2015 season I’ll be counting down, one a day, my personal Top 7 Yankees Moments of all time.*

The 2001 New York Yankees are a special team to me, and clinching the 2001 American League Division Series is one of my favorite moments from their Playoff run. After losing the first two games at home to the 102 win Oakland A’s, the Yankees took 2 games in Oakland (highlighted by Derek Jeter’s famous flip play in in Game 3) to come home with the series tied. Behind the bat of David Justice and Jeter’s glove once again, they came from behind and handed Mariano Rivera a 2 run lead in the ninth inning, and the he locked down the series with a strikeout. Mo’s 360 pivot in celebration is one of my all-time favorite images from the 96-01 Yankees Dynasty, and John Sterling’s post-game monologue is perfection for those of us who enjoy his theatrics.

Stay tuned tomorrow for one of the two regular season moments on this list.

Top 5 Albums and Singles of 2014

Top 5 Albums:

1. Strange Desires – Bleachers

2. Everything Will Be Alright In The End – Weezer

3. Get Hurt – The Gaslight Anthem

4. Youth – Wild Cub (a bit of a cheat, since a different version of this album came out in 2013)

5. Hesitant Alien – Gerard Way

Top 5 Singles:

1. I Wanna Get Better – Bleachers

2. Centuries – Fall Out Boy

3. Shake It Off – Taylor Swift

4. Rollercoaster – Bleachers

5. The Miracle of Joey Ramone – U2

10 Years Has Gone So Fast…

“Don’t want to be an American Idiot.”

It’s September 21st, 2014 and I’m a 26 year old adult, sitting on the couch in my adult apartment, cracking open an adult beverage, trying to figure out how the hell those words are 10 years old. Could it really be 10 years ago today that Green Day’s American Idiot came out and blew my 16 year old mind, becoming my all time favorite album? It feels like yesterday and a whole lifetime ago all at once.

“I’m the son of rage and love, the Jesus of Suburbia.”

It’s sometime in the Spring of 2004 and I’m a pop-punk loving 16 year old high school sophomore. Like most kids my age, I’m full of overblown existential angst about the world around me, always complaining how no one understands me (it’s a good thing I’ve totally grown out of that… Right? Right? Anyone?). On top of all that typical teenage drama, it’s only been three years since 9/11, an event that re-shaped the entirety of my psyche. Watching 3000 people die on television, in my own city rocked me to my very core. Then suddenly America was at war, and I found myself terrified at just now much I disagreed with it but I had no idea how to express it. Also, much less seriously, like most kids that age, I spent a shit-ton of time at the mall. On one of those mall-Saturdays I was shopping at Hot Topic (It was 2004, and I was an emotive kid into pop-punk, where did you think I shopped?) I was looking for a Green Day tee-shirt, as I’d been into them for a few years at that point thanks to owning the International Superhits compilation. Now in all fairness, the store was probably just sold out of GD shirts that day, as I’m pretty sure they did carry them. But I still asked the young clerk if they had any, and his response achieved mythical status among my certain friends of mine thanks to the ubiquitous amount of Green Day merchandise that would clog the store’s shelves a few months later. He looked me in the eyes and said “Green Day’s over man. You should grab a Good Charlotte shirt, that’s the future of punk.”

“I walk a lonely road, the only one that I have ever known…”

It’s September of 2004, and I’m about to listen to a burnt copy (Shh, nobody tell Reprise) of American Idiot. The title track had come out the month before and frankly hadn’t blown me away. It was a good song, no question, but it was a tad simplistic and the political message, while one I agreed with, was way too blunt. With that in mind, I spun the CD-R for the first time. The title track went by like I thought it would, then the opening of Jesus of Suburbia exploded through my headphones. From the opening lyric of “I’m the son of rage and love, the Jesus of Suburbia” I was hooked. I even gained a new respect for the title track became obsessed with American Idiot that day, and remained so for most of the fall of 2004 and winter of 2005. I listened to the album 2 or 3 times a day, and once I got an actual copy for Christmas, I obsessed over the intricate liner notes. I ranted to anyone who would listen about how the record wasn’t the hour of Bush-bashing the media portrayed (the only two truly political tracks are the title track and Holiday) but rather used the post 9/11 Bush Administration motif as a canvas to paint a tale of youthful disillusionment. I even came up with own interpretation of the (loose) narrative of the album. In my mind, the Jesus of Suburbia character left the suburb he was stuck in, went to the big city, met a girl, fell in love with her, she left him, he had a mental breakdown (possibly involving drugs, though that wasn’t integral in my mind) revealing the destructive St. Jimmy part of his personality, eventually he hits rock bottom, goes home and falls back into his old life, but never truly stops pining for Whatshername. Yeah, I really had way too much time on my hands, though to be fair it’s not that far off from the plot of the Broadway version.

“Starry night, city lights coming down over me”

It’s September 1st, 2005 and I’m sitting with my dad and my then (and now, and hopefully forever) girlfriend watching Green Day tear through a stadium set on the American Idiot Tour. I’d been to a few concerts before, but this was the first time I was going to one hell-bent on hearing material from the album the band was touring in support of. I’m sure that sounds insignificant to people who aren’t music/concert dorks, but it was a huge deal to me for some reason. The emotional high point of the show was easily Wake Me Up When September Ends. Not only was it literally the first of September (as lame as that sounds, it did give the song extra resonance) but it happened to be the day after I’d started senior year of high school. The melancholy wistfulness of that track fit my mood perfectly, something it would do again years later.

“Tell me that I won’t feel a thing, give me novacaine.”

It’s November of 2006, and I’m freaking out in my dorm room. Two and a half months into college and I’d hit a bit of a breaking point working on my first truly big college paper. In retrospect I can’t remember what exactly I was having trouble with, but I became almost catatonic with nerves. The only thing that kept me going was Give Me Novacaine on repeat for about 4 hours straight. Since the song wasn’t a single or a live staple it’s a bit overlooked by a lot of people, but for my money there very few songs that describe desperation better. (Note for the grammar/spelling police: on all American Idiot material, it’s spelled Novacaine so that’s the spelling I’m using.)

“Some days he feels like dying, she gets so sick of crying.”

It’s somewhere in June of 2010, and I’m sitting in the St. James Theatre watching a harnessed actress fly 20 feet above the audience singing Extraordinary Girl. I had a lot of mixed feelings going onto the American Idiot Broadway adaption. On the one hand, the theater-nerd in me loved the idea and was quite excited about the prospect of seeing how the AI narrative could be translated to the stage. On the other, as someone whose borderline obsessed with the record, I was petrified that they’d screw it up. I ended up seeing the show twice that summer, and I can honestly say I enjoyed it immensely. There were some stylistic/thematic choices I didn’t enjoy. For example, I hate the fact that Extraordinary Girl is about a different character than Whatshername, since in my mind Extraordinary Girl and it’s preceding track She’s a Rebel were completely interconnected as a look at the two sides of her psyche. Those narrative nitpicks aside, the show did capture the spirt of the album and the cultural that created it quite well. Also, for the record, I’d highly recommend the Original Cast Recording for anyone who hasn’t heard it. It’s the show’s cast on vocals with Green Day playing all the instruments, and makes a really cool companion piece to the album proper.

“We’re back in the barrio, but to you and me, that’s Jingletown.”

It’s early June of 2011 and I’m sitting shotgun in a U-Haul truck on the Long Island Expressway, the entirety of my 5 of my five years of college life (4 years spent in the same illegal apartment) rattling around in the back. Homecoming may look like a clichéd choice to listen to in that situation, but I couldn’t help myself. In ended up being a perfect choice in retrospect, as my life took a similar turn to the song. Much like Jimmy, I went back home after a wild adventure (though mine shockingly didn’t involve a full mental breakdown) and settled back into my old life while partially yearning for the adventurous life left behind.

“Summer has come and passed…”

It’s August 12, 2014 and I’m sitting in my end, trying to contemplate the day I just had. Twelve hours earlier my father had passed away and I spent a whirlwind day with my mother bouncing between a funeral and a cemetery making arrangements. It was only after I’d gone to bed for the night that I truly let the emotion of the day wash over me, and like any other emotional time in my life I sought solace in music. Wake Me Up When September Ends (which is about the death of Billie Joe Armstrong’s father, not 9/11 as is often thought) became my go to track that night. I listened to every version in my library; album, live, live acoustic, Broadway cast and any other I could find. I don’t want to say it made things better, it didn’t, but it the song was there to comfort me like an old friend, and really what more could I ask for out of a song?

“If my memory serves me right I’ll never turn back time.”

It’s still September 21st and I’m still sitting here, having spun through a American Idiot a couple of times while writing this. The adult beverage is long gone, and in a lot of ways so is the 16 year old version of me who first heard this record. American Idiot is still here though, and like all great pieces of art always will be.