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The Purity of Baseball

Walk on the Wild Side

By Rebecca L. Walkowitz

Now that the World Series is over, we can get back to the real business of baseball.

As a New Yorker, I can't profess having cared much that the Cincinnati Reds thrashed the Oakland Athletics last week. So some midwestern team with a dumb name beat a bunch of California yahoos. Ho-hum.

If you want to see real baseball, you've got to go to New York. Money, fashion, politics, culture. A little spitting on the sidewalks, an obscenity or two and the brash, bullying "religion of baseball" comes to life.

The Red Sox may be the team of Boston Brahmins. But in the Big Apple we take the truly purist approach.

As with many religions, my sect of baseball worship has a strict philosophy: there are some basic rules, there's good, and there's evil.

In the esteemed and pious tradition of a certain late night television host (not to mention a certain Crimson alum), I'll offer my top 10 commandments.

10. The Mets are good.

9. The Yankees are bad.

Now I don't mean "bad" and "good" in the professional baseball sense of the words. Some seasons are better than others, and fair-weather support has never been the calling of a true team fanatic. Good and bad have their own nuances. That leads me to the next commandment.

8. You are what you wear.

My daddy, once a Brooklyn Dodgers' fan, told me way long ago that we (kinda Left of liberal) were Mets fans because the Yankees were kinda Right of Republican. I asked him how he knew and he told me the next commandment.

7. The Yankees wear pinstripes, and pinstripes are bad.

For those of you wondering why pinstripes are bad, just check out George Steinbrenner. Sources have it he was a pretty nice guy once way long ago. But he watched too many Yankees games. Turned nasty. Money hungry. Like Michael Milken.

But there's more than money to the baseball business, there's image and food and politics. That's where the next commandments come in.

6. Good baseball teams are culturally p.c.

The 1990 Mets, for instance, serve Steve's ice cream at Shea Stadium. They served Haagen-Dazs in the 1980s. Q.E.D.

5. Good local baseball teams lead to good local election results.

Back in the late 1970s, when people liked the Yankees, our mayor was Ed Koch. Now, according to newspaper polls, two out of every three New York teenagers like the Mets. David Dinkins is our Mayor. Ah-hah.

4. Not only are good baseball teams politically correct, but politically correct fans like good baseball teams.

Dinkins (p.c.) was seen wearing a Mets jacket to the U.S. Open. Dinkins clearly likes the Mets. Tells you something.

It might tell you that my philosophy represents a very small and marginal section of the baseball community. But I like hot dogs, baseball, apple pie and Chevrolet like everyone else. It's just that my icons come with a few particulars. Thus, the last three and most important commandments.

3. Hotdogs are to be eaten with mustard--only.

2. Apple pie should be heated, not cold.

1. And baseball, good baseball, is the New York Mets. They don't wear pinstripes.

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