A special column for all the new parents out there who are looking for some advice on how to raise their kids right: You can buy volumes from Dr. Spock, Dr. Phil, or Dr. Sears, all of which will tell you things you already know. What none of these so-called experts will do is tell you is that the best thing you can do is make sure your kid picks the right baseball team to be a fan of.
Before you laugh, or worse yet type "milkandcookies.com" into the address window of your browser, let me explain: You may have heard before that you can tell a lot about a person's character by which team they root for. But has it occured to you that it's an inverse relationship? That which team you root for influences your character?
Being A Yankees Fan
Rooting for the Yankees is like rooting for Bill Gates to hit the lottery. 26 World Championships. Enough Hall Of Famers in their history to fill out a roster. A payroll greater than the GNP of some countries. The Yankees are expected to win every year. Their owner demands it! George actually uttered the words "winning is second only to breathing." Win, win, win. Even in the Yankees most disappointing year (2004), they came within three outs of the World Series! Yankees fans expect their team to win every year. And most years, they do.
What kind of character does this constant satisfaction breed? These types of expectations can create an attitude that the world owes you success, rather than that success needs to be earned. How can one savor success unless they know the taste of defeat?
Being a Cubs Fan
Rooting for the Cubs is like hoping the price of gas goes down. It gets to the point where you accept disappointment as a way of life. Sure, success is bound to come your way eventually (see 2004 Red Sox), but when success does happen it is more like a miraculous event where heavens were aligned properly and curses are reversed rather than anything hard work brought you.
It's important that people understand disappointment is a part of life, but it's equally important for us to believe that success is plausible if we work hard enough for it. We need to learn to enjoy those moments of glory, and use them to remind us to appreciate the fruits of our labor. Losing every year for 97 years isn't character building, it's masochism.
Being a Mets Fan
1969, 1973, 1986, 2000. Four World Series appearances; two World Championships to show for it in 43 years of existance as a franchise. Not exactly world beaters, but just enough beautiful memories to make the phrase "Ya Gotta Believe!" more than just a silly rallying cry. Mets fans have their heroes: Tom Seaver, Keith Hernandez, Mike Piazza... And Mets fans know defeat: the 60's, the late 70's, the early 80's, the mid 90's, Kenny Rogers and Roger Cedeno. But Mets fans also know the excitement of a Shea Stadium crowd roaring so load and celebrating so wildly that it feels like a low level earthquake.
As sports fans we don't swing bats or throw balls, but sticking through the lean years and being a spectator of the process where hard work, passion, drive and leadership pay off into championships teaches us how to be hard working, passionate, and grounded individuals. And isn't that how you want your kids to be?
So for your kids' sake, set an example as a parent. Respect one another. Take responsibility for your actions. Show affection. Communicate. Vote in every election, and I don't mean the All Star Game. And finally, don't let them anywhere near an open flame or a Yankees insignia until they're old enough to make these types of decisions on their own.