Some of you may be aware that the pastor of our Sacred Heart Cathedral, Father Kevin McKenna, is an unrepentant Toronto Blue Jays fan. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. After all, this is a free country. If Father McKenna wants to direct his energy and loyalty to a team named for a squawky bird, he is perfectly free to do that.
What concerns me, however, is that soldered to his allegiance to the Blue Jays is the ABY syndrome. For those who are innocent in such matters, the three letters are the short form of “Anybody but the Yankees.” Yes, Kevin takes delight in every Toronto win — especially if the win is at the expense of the Yankees. But a Yankees loss to any team fills his soul with at least as much happiness. What makes matters worse is that any combination of such wins and losses inevitably impels our good pastor to offer comments on same when he speaks to the assembly at the end of Sunday liturgy at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
As a Yankees fan and, therefore, heir to a noble tradition, I try to take such provocation in stride — not by trading pinch for poke but by encouraging my dear colleague to take delight in the energy of the competition, the elegance of the game, the cadence and rhythm of the sport.
The matter is on my mind because, as I write this column on Oct. 6, the annual baseball playoffs begin today. This evening the Yankees play an away game against the Twins. I will be rooting for the Yankees but not without a good deal of affection for the Twins, many of who were excellent players for the Rochester Red Wings in the last stage of their minor-league careers — Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel and Joe Mauer. Truth to tell, should the Twins win this series I would root for them for as long as they remain in contention.
A more concrete concern is this: Shall I, as a loyal fan, don my elegant Yankees pinstripe shirt with No. 2 on the back when I watch the game this evening, or shall I, fearful of my pastor’s taints and jibes, leave the shirt in my dresser drawer?
The truth is that it is not always easy to be a fan of the Yankees. For many years before I ever met Father Kevin — and to this day — I have had a similar struggle with my old friend Bishop Howard Hubbard. He too is ABY; the difference is that his team is not the Blue Jays but the Red Sox. The same — ABY, Red Sox — is true of my dear coworker Sister Mary Ann Binsack, RSM, with whom I spend more time day in day out than with anyone else on the planet. Given all of this, is it any wonder at all that my fastball has lost some zip or that I am a bit slower getting to first base? There’s a cost to wearing the pinstripes.
Kevin. Howard. Mary Ann. All wonderful people and dear friends. Do I argue that the world would be a better place if they all saw the light and converted to Yankeedom? Not at all. All I ask is that we humble, loyal fans of the Bronx Bombers be accepted for the peaceful individuals we are and not part of an evil empire.
Enjoy the playoffs.
Peace to all.