We recently learned of the joyous news that my niece Caitlin and her husband Mike were having a baby. Coming on the heels of my son Kevin’s engagement announcement earlier, we DiSclafanis are having a pretty good summer.
It’s the first child for our family as born by one of our kids (the grandchildren), making my mother a great-grandmother. My brother and I have combined for five adult children (four boys), so our pool is not that large. Caitlin, who was celebrating her 30th birthday, revealed the happy news while the entire family was in attendance.
Of course, as with many New York-based mixed marriages, there are life decisions that parents need to make for their children. It is especially true with Caitlin and Mike because of their deep-seated beliefs and loyalties. As a matter of fact, their respective families are entrenched in opposite beliefs that could very well impact the future of this child.
Will this child be raised to root for the Mets or the Yankees?
I know, I know, there are far more essential things that need to be taken into consideration, but establishing loyalty to a baseball team is ultimately a life decision. And please, none of your nonsense about raising the child to appreciate both. That just isn’t possible here on Long Island. You either love the Mets while hating the Yankees, or you love the Yankees and have no regard for anyone else, least of all the Mets. No self-respecting baseball fan can root for two teams. Besides, we need all the Mets fans we can get.
Caitlin and her family have been life-long Mets fans. They have been peacefully coexisting with Mike and his family of life-long Yankee fans. They calmly attend both Mets and Yankee games together, but I’m not sure what happens when they play each other in the Subway Series every year. Mike is a sweetheart of a guy and a former college baseball player. They are going to make great parents. I just know it. I also know this child is going to learn to love and appreciate the game of baseball. Is it too much to hope the child prefers the orange and blue of the Mets, as opposed to the Yankee pinstripes?
This is the first struggle of its kind in our family, mind you. I saddled my kids as Mets fans without question long before they could even talk because my wife was not a sports fan. My brother didn’t have to worry about the fandom of his children, both he and Marina were already Mets fans. Enough said.
As children grow, they tend to adopt some of their parents’ beliefs and loyalties, eventually developing their own tastes in clothes and politics. They explore different types of music until they find something that they enjoy. Learning about different authors and finding their own voice in pop culture is all part of growing up.
But sports loyalties are something you can share with both your parents and your children, it spans generations.
I have fond memories of my Uncles gathering on Sunday at Grandma’s, cursing and watching the miserable Mets lose yet again. Instead of arguing about their different political beliefs or complaining about the world around us, they had a common bond. They loved the Mets and hated the Yankees, and I wanted to be a part of that.
Please understand that as a great uncle, I have zero influence in this matter. When I have grandchildren of my own to spoil someday, that might be a different story. I promise to love this child with all my heart no matter how this turns out and take them to the ballpark of their choice every year around their birthday. It will be our special day.
Let’s just hope I don’t have to sit in Yankee Stadium wearing my Mets hat.
Paul DiSclafani, a Massapequa resident, is a 2018 Press Club of Long Island award winning columnist and an Anton Media Group contributor since 2016.