A Spoiled, Rotten Yankee Fan

I’ve never been thisĀ ready for baseball season. Maybe it’s two years of Denver Bronco mediocrity, the sting of the Yankees losing to Houston in the 2017 American League Championship Series, and the fact that I’ve been taking in quite a bit of PAC-12 college ball these days, but I’m way more amped up than usual about Opening Day. It’s comforting: as the world unravels and anxiety spikes we emerge anyway from the cold, looking forward to the warmer months of the year always knowing we’re going to be playing baseball. It might be the only constant in America I not just reliably depend on but welcome.

Having never lived in New York and never written a lot about baseball, I realize I have a bit of explaining to do. Or maybe I don’t. This is the inferiority complex I’ve developed as an all-too-common out-of-state fan. In Colorado, a typical baseball season ends sometime around June. After a brief period of optimism that runs itself dry around mid-May, the Rockies (usually) putter out and the town begins fantasizing about summer football workouts. Maintaining enthusiasm for baseball on the other side of the country in the face of such consistently disappointed fans ends up requiring a bit of biographical backstory.

When I was born in 1990 in California, it didn’t take long to get me to an Angel’s game. My dad, who grew up on the East Coast, loved baseball and he’d put me in his glove at “The Big A” where we watched those middling early-90s Yankees teams when they came to town. Somewhere, there exists a VHS tape of me at about 2 watching a tape of the Minnesota Twins winning the 91 World Series, which I watched on a loop that winter because even as a baby, I was irritated there was no baseball to watch. Several of my first sentences were attempts to start a discussion about Kirby Puckett and Chili Davis.

When you’re little, seeing your parents lose their shit has quite a novelty to it. Gene Michael comes in as General Manager, turns the Yankee franchise around, and by 1996 my house had gone stark-raving mad for Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte , Mariano Rivera, Tino Martinez, Paul O’Neil, and Derek Jeter. At the same time, my mother, who grew up in Colorado, was attempting to match the Yankee fever with her elation for back-to-back Bronco Superbowl wins and the anointment of John Elway as Saint of All Quarterbacks. As a very young child, I was completely spoiled by watching longstanding familial sports allegiances rewarded with what seemed like championship contending teams year after year. Continue reading “A Spoiled, Rotten Yankee Fan”

Farewell, Aqib Talib

After four years with the Denver Broncos and one championship ring, cornerback Aqib Talib was traded to the LA Rams in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick. Generally, I treat sports rumor mills as a where-there’s-smoke-there’s-fire situation, and there was a lot of smoke about Talib desiring a trade even pretty early on into the 2017 season. Fans and Bronco’s beat guys definitely saw this coming, and after two unremarkable, disappointing seasons coming off of a Superbowl win and the retirement of Peyton Manning, it certainly isn’t surprising.

Since Superbowl 50, the offseason has been a stressful, pins and needles time for Bronco fans. Locking down Von Miller and Emmanuel Sanders were definitely coups for the front office, but you also inexplicably let Wade Phillips go as defensive coordinator after heading one of the historically greatest defenses of all time and start piecing out said defense. These are all tough front office problems and it’s difficult to see how it’s all going to play out.

Talib is a player I think almost everybody hates – unless he’s onĀ your team. When he played for New England, I put him up there with Vontaze Burfict and cursed his coverage anytime the Broncos played the Pats. I was even pissed off when we picked him up after that disastrous loss to the Seahawks in Superbowl 48. The Broncos have always had a bit of a moral high ground against a rival like Oakland. Talib, coming from Darth Bellicheck’s dubious Patriot dynasty that had just lost a tight end to murder charges, seemed out of place in a franchise whose fanbase primarily meme’d about chicken parm sandwiches, ill-fitting winterwear, and Eric Decker’s monster hog. Especially after the then-recent conclusion of the illustrious career of an absolute class-act Champ Bailey, Talib felt like buying an angry Rottweiler after having to put down your childhood Irish Setter.

Naturally, I think fans not accustomed to having an Enforcer on their team can’t live without one after they’re gone. Just being able to know you’ve got the ability to exact some revenge or try and intimidate a snarling team on the road is quite the feeling. What comes standard issue on a hockey squad isn’t as plentiful in the NFL. Talib doesn’t take any shit. There was the eye poke, the chain grabs, and the fights. Talib served suspensions in three consecutive seasons with the Broncos. He shot himself in the leg at a bar in Texas.

But there’s also 103-yard pick-sixes. Continue reading “Farewell, Aqib Talib”