“Who’s the Yankees Shortstop?” Or, Knowledge Versus Fandom

Last night, after a wonderful happy hour at Finn McCool’s in Santa Monica, catching up with old friends and coworkers, I walked back to my hotel. Movie crews were working on both sides of Pico between 4th and Main filming something all day long, but by the time I walked through there at 9 pm or so, it looked like things were winding down.

I was wearing my Yankees shirt, and a guy saw it and said, “Who’s the Yankees shortstop?”

“Jeter,” I said, automatically, thinking, cool, another Yankees fan.

The guy seemed momentarily taken aback, paused, regrouped, and then said, “Well, you wouldn’t believe how many people wear that that shirt and don’t know shit.”

I walked on.

As I got into the elevator, I was still thinking about it. Knowledge of a team in no way defines your enjoyment of that team, unless you are in fourth grade, when knowing the names of the band members in the current popular band, or the starting lineup of the team is a silly badge of schoolyard pride. If I hadn’t come up with the name of the Yankees shortstop, it wouldn’t make me any less a fan. (Perhaps just less fanatic.)

It occurred to me then, that what I might said, when he asked me about the Yankees shortstop was this:

“Jeter. But if you think knowledge of the players makes someone more or less a fan of team, then you tell me, who was the Yankees shortstop before Jeter?” I wonder if he would have come up with the answer. Of course, even if it couldn’t it wouldn’t make him any less a fan.

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