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First watch this:

Three-year-olds are relatively powerless creatures who have recently realized it. As such, they get upset about many, many things. I know this because I have two of them. The three-year-olds in my house have lost it (“losing it” is defined as screaming, crying, yelling, throwing toys, or some combination thereof) over the following (note: this is a very incomplete list):

  • The color of their fork
  • Whether the car in front of them is or is not a truck. (It IS!)
  • Being required to change a shirt after coating it in dog feces
  • Being frivolously barred from injuring themselves via jumping from the top of a slide, swinging a knife around in the kitchen, etc.

See if you non-parents can follow this logic: the kid in the video wants what he wants because he wants it. If required to handle a similar situation, given the above likelihood of a fit being thrown, most rational* parents would take the least destructive course. They’d say “fine, whatever, enjoy the Ankees,” knowing that tomorrow the kid will have forgotten all about it. Three-year-olds have the memories of goldfish. This is, of course, wrong. It is also not wrong.

* I’m coming to learn that rational parental behavior is inversely proportional to the cumulative age of their children.

I don’t know the father in the video but I’m guessing if the discussion were over which is a car or a truck, or the color of the kid’s fork, he would have taken the goldfish tack. But this is different. Unlike word definitions, fork color, or the potential health risks of covering one’s self in dog feces, this is about baseball teams and baseball teams are important.

The video ends with the father telling his three-year-old kid that if he’s going to root for the “Ankees” he’ll have to find another place to live. It’s a funny line and probably explains the video’s popularity, but some of you, most likely those of you without children, may be thinking the dad’s reaction was overly mean. In fact, you may be thinking one or more of the following things:

  1. How can you say that to your own child?
  2. What is more important, your favorite baseball team or your child?
  3. Get your priorities in order.
  4. Etcetera!

As I stated before, I have two three-year-old boys, and the answer is, to paraphrase Chris Rock, I can’t endorse that sentiment, but I understand it.

It’s not hard to have sympathy for the kid. I mean, he’s three so that’s enough right there. But it goes beyond that. Like most three-year-olds, and I don’t have any qualms about saying this even though I’m fairly certain three-year-olds make up a large portion of those who enjoy my writing, he doesn’t have a damn clue what he’s talking about.

So when you get down to it, the kid in the video might spend the night on the porch, but $20 says he’s wearing a Red Sox hat on his next birthday. If it takes a bit of parental steamrolling to get him there then maybe, considering the context, that isn’t the worst thing in the world.

* * *

“Who do we love?”

“The Red Sox!”

“That’s right!”

These things are drilled into the heads of children by their parents, much the same way religion, political parties, and every other intensely personal preference is. I’m as guilty of this kind of thing as the next parent. As parents we teach our children how to relate to the world and we do that guided by our values. But our values are a prism through which the world (and Major League Baseball) is refracted. What we think is right and wrong and all the things we care about inform this, such as the list in the first sentence of this paragraph. That includes our baseball teams. 

For some, showing your children your love of a specific team is a more personal thing than others. A friend of mine has three kids. He grew up a Red Sox fan in Boston, but he lives in Philadelphia now so that won’t be his son’s experience. His son is entering the age where fandom starts to kick in so we’ve had this discussion mostly because, potential horror of potential horrors, his son has decided that he likes the Phillies. The Phillies aren’t a direct competitor to the Red Sox, so this isn’t nearly as bad as the kid in the video who chose the Yankees. Still, there’s a part of you that wants to hand that love of team to the next generation, to have that be a bond, not a wedge.

Passing a religion or value or baseball team down to your son is in effect offering a part of yourself to them. It’s something intensely personal that you can give to them. It’s a part of you that will become a part of them, a part of who they are. If all goes well, one day they’ll hand it to one of their kids.

My kids are too young to get any of that now. Right now they run around in their little Red Sox hats not because they love the Red Sox but because that’s the hat that Daddy wears. For now that’s more than good enough. But if one of them eventually decides he loves the Yankees over the Red Sox, it might be funny on YouTube, but one of us would probably have to find a different place to live.  

Thank you for reading

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Matthew - as a father of four boys including twin sons who has his kids cheering for the Texas Rangers like I did as a boy (I live in North Carolina), the MLB extra innings was the key to the deal. Of course, not having a local team was probably the most important factor. But it is great having all of cheering for the same team, and they got the benefit of skipping those first 35 or so crappy years. :-)
I'm a Cubs fan now but my dad and brother are Cardinals fans. I remember being a Cardinals fan until about 5 years old when I switched to the Cubs. I can't really remember why but I think it had something to do with their success in 1989 and our proximity to their AAA team. In retrospect I wish my dad had taken the stance of the dad in the vid. It would've saved me a lot of pain and suffering.
My brother was always oppositional.

We lived in Nebraska so we were a family of Cornhusker fans. Naturally, he rooted for Oklahoma.

We had no local baseball team, so we were free to pick whoever we wanted to root for.

The Dodgers played the Yankees in the '63 World Series. I fell in love with Koufax, and became a Dodgers fan to this day.

The Cardinals played the Yankees in the '64 World Series. My Dad liked Gibson because he hailed from Omaha.

Of course, my brother managed to piss us both off by rooting for the Yankees.

To this day, even though I've mellowed out a bit due to my advancing years, I still believe my brother is a stupid jerk. :)
Enjoyed the article Matthew. I'm a Yankee fan who married a big Sox fan from Boston. A mixed marriage if you will. To keep the peace we've decided to raise our kids Mets fans.
You must hate them
Ha ha!

Thanks. And good luck with that.
umm...has anyone considered the possibility that the clip was staged?
Staging something with a three year old is... well, I don't want to say impossible, but impossible.
Out of the question. The tears of Yankees fans are far too rare and valuable to risk being caught counterfeiting them.

I have a bottle full of the real deal, collected from the gutter outside of Gate 6 on Halloween of 2004. I'm keeping it until I have my own children, at which point I'll douse them with it prior to rearing them on Mt. Pelion. I'd like to collect a bit more, though I doubt I'll again see such a deluge in this lifetime.
I don't know, call me the minority, but passing on the love of the game is enough. With all of the things kids can hate their parents over and for, baseball and fandom included, I don't give a damn what teams my kids come to love and/or root for, just that they recognize how great sports are and the role they play. This is all just the perpetuation of some narrative that we'd like our lives to be, root for the Yankees kid, or the Red Sox, or the Phillies, I don't care. I just hope you love baseball.
My daughter is only ten weeks old and her mother and I are already arguing about which team she should be a fan of. The missus is from Chicago (northern 'burbs) and wants the little one to be a Cubs fan. As her father, I do not condone her heart breaking, so I want her to be a Blue Jays fan like me. That way we can enjoy the game, but remain cautiously apathetic towards the results.