Rooting with a purpose

Spring Training Game Thread: AJ takes on his old team
Burnett struggles with command against former team

Here’s a fun one to while away the last two innings of this excruciating compelling Spring Training match-up between the Yanks and Blue Jays: Earlier today, Pete Abe wrote a short post on rooting for a player because of a shared characteristic. In the 1930s and 1940s, for example, my grandparents and a lot of their fellow New Yorkers rooted for Hank Greenberg because he’s Jewish. I’m pulling for the Pirates’ Pedro Alvarez because he and I went to the same high school, he graduated with my sister and I played baseball with him for a day when he was 14 and I was 18. So RAB readers: Which players do you root for because of some random connection? Spill the beans.

Spring Training Game Thread: AJ takes on his old team
Burnett struggles with command against former team
  • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

    Rocco Baldelli (well not anymore I guess) ’cause my cousin played against him in high school.

    Andy Pettitte (aside from being a Yankee) because he and I have the same birthday (6/15).

    Non-Baseball but John Sullivan (C–Minnesota Vikings) graduated high school two years ahead of me. Dude was a beast to watch in HS.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike A.

    Ian Snell because we have the same b-day. Used to root for John Franco because his in-laws lived on the same block I grew up on in Brooklyn, so I used to see him all the time.

    • EDUB

      I umpired John Franco’s son one time. The kid was flat out filthy for a little leaguer. I was ringing little kids up all day long. I think he even had a curveball, which was pretty unusual and tends to be discouraged at that age

  • Steve H

    Jeff Locke-Used to work with his uncle, and my uncle worked at the HS that Locke went to and knew him pretty well.

    Matt Tupman-Only 1 MLB at-bat and he got a hit. I played with him in a summer league.

    Jeff Fulchino-Played against him, he hit a dinger off of me when we were 12 that is probably still rolling.

  • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

    Mariano Rivera. He’s the lone reason I am a Yankees fan right now. Seeing as how he was the only Panamanian player I knew of, whatever team he played would’ve been “my team”.

    • Grant

      So when he retires u can go back to being a Sox fan? Good stuff

  • bob

    my mom dated alfredo griffin when he was on the blue jays so I was always a big fan. Plus Garth Iorg let her borrow some cash when she needed to go to the clinic

  • http://26ncounting.blogspot.com VO

    CC and I share the same birthday

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    Joba Chamberlain because we’re both from Nebraska and both got drunk at the Foxy Lady stripclub in Lincoln.

    Robinson Cano, because he wears my favorite number (see also: Tino Martinez and Ruben Sierra)

    CC Sabathia because we both love Fillet-O-Fish sandwiches.

    And Kei Igawa because we’re both Japanese lefties with the ability to utterly dominate and humiliate major league hitters with our devastating arsenal of 6 plus-plus pitches, but choose not to because showing up other men in such a thorough fashion would be bring honor to our families.

    (I may have made that last one up.)

    • Mike Pop

      Joba Chamberlain because we’re both from Nebraska and both got drunk and killed a hooker at the Foxy Lady stripclub in Lincoln.

      ;)

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Sorry for the interruption, sirs, we’ve got a 10-07 on our hands…

        • Mike Pop

          Hah!

    • alan

      anyone from the 2005 or 2006 staten island yankees because i did an internship for them or anyone (in the future) from last season’s Dunedin Blue Jays (FSL team) because I interned for them.

      current ML examples: Brett Gardner and Travis Snider.

  • Josh

    Every Jewish player

    • Steve H

      Even Youk????

      • shawnT

        yea man if only the yanks could get ryan braun, would be the greatest yankee jew ever!!!

        • Steve H

          He’s the perfect Brewer though.

          The HeBrewer!!!

        • UNION YES.

          Don’t forget about Ian Kinsler.

      • Steve H

        And speaking of Youk, for those who haven’t seen this, it’s a must watch.

        http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/40420/

      • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        Youk is a good friend of a good friend, which is probably why at times I’ve been the killjoy who tries to tamp down the personal attacks against him around here. Good to remember that these guys are all just people who may toss on a uniform we don’t like, but that doesn’t mean they deserve our personal scorn.

        • Grant

          You want some light reading? I got a pamphlet on Jewish sports heroes

          • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi
  • Brandon

    Josh Hamilton, we have the same hometown, his high school was one of my high school’s rivals.

    • Grant

      The same dealer?

  • NC Saint

    Juan Miranda, because I too am a lefty who is only fit to dh even in a slow pitch softball game.

    Back when it was still plausible, Sam fuld because he was in my class in high school.

    And pat venditte, because I, too, am fucking awesome

    • http://liberalmusings.wordpress.com Pablo Zevallos

      “because I too am a lefty who is only fit to dh even in a slow pitch softball game”

      heh. welcome to the club.

      • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

        “And pat venditte, because I, too, am fucking awesome”

        heh. welcome to the club.

  • http://liberalmusings.wordpress.com Pablo Zevallos

    Besides Yankees, I’m rooting for Angel Salome because he played for a team (the NY Gothams) that my best friend plays on. There are a bunch of players in college whom I’m rooting for because they went to the same HS I go to now.

    I’m also very sympathetic to lefty DH/1B/(fake)OF types, because I am one of them.

  • whozat

    DTrian, because he went to high school with a friend of mine from Alameda. Rollins went to the same school too, but I think he might’ve graduated before she got to HS.

    And Brad Ausmus, because he’s the last alumnus from my alma mater left in the big leagues. I also followed Mike Remlinger briefly for the same reason.

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    Non-Yankee division:

    GriffBones, because he’s just all sorts of awesome.
    If we ever got him here, I’d be fuckin STOKED, bro. GriffBones would absolutely CRUSH it.

    http://www.firejoemorgan.com/2008/08/analysis.html

  • pat

    I went to high school with John Lannan. We were really good friends until senior year rolled around and he took a liking to a girl I was dating. He could never hook up with her bc he was/is god awful ugly but he stabbed me in the back and told her a bunch of shit I thought was in confidence. I’ve hated him ever since. I don’t hope he gets hurt or anything but I hope he gets smoked every time he pitches. I consider the fact he plays for the Nationals a bit of karma.

    Funny tidbit, he was pretty good in high school except when he played St. Dom’s in Oyster Bay because they would chant “Super Ugly” whenever he pitched and it would rattle the crap out of him.

  • EricVA

    Even though he isn’t in the majors yet, I’m rooting for Twins AA or AAA closer Rob Delaney (#18 Twins prospect) because he went to my high school, played with me, and has the same birthday as my sister (they were good friends in HS). Plus, I always thought I was better than him.

  • daniel aka bryce harper

    Chad Moeller- My dad works with his aunt. Last April, I saw the yankees play at Camden Yards. While they were warming up, i yelled out “hey chad, i know your aunt!” he spun around, looked and waved. good guy

  • http://evilempire20.com Ryan S.

    Rollie Fingers and Jason Giambi circa 2008: because moustaches are awesome.

  • Manimal

    Tanyon Sturtze because he grew up near me, and Ryan Braun because hes my friends cousin.

  • http://www.YouTube.com/kevyyankees Kevin G.

    Brian Bruney because I met him almost 6 months ago at the mall and got his autograph.

    Andrew Brackman because we share the same birthday ( according to wikipedia).

    • Manimal

      Same here about the birthday(I feel like weve had this conversation before…)

      • http://www.YouTube.com/kevyyankees Kevin G.

        We have.

  • tarik

    Khalil Greene. He’s the only baseball player I know of who also practices the Baha’i faith.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Him and John Rocker.

    • Manimal

      I think I sort of converted to Baha’i faith in my mind. Its too logical to ignore I guess. Rainn Wilson is the man btw.

    • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

      One of my best friends practices that faith. I think she has been ever since our senior year of HS a couple years ago.

  • Justin

    Rocco Baldelli because he was two years behind me in high school. I still remember going to a basketball game senior year and watching him dunk as a sophmore.

    Now, he broke my heart signing with the Sox, but after all he has been through he seems genuinely happy to be back home, so good for him.

  • Manimal

    Oh,and Doug Mirabelli, I met his grandmother at a McDonalds.

    • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      My grandma was friends with Steve Guttenberg’s mother, so I’m a big fan of the Goot.

  • http://www.thechuckknoblog.com Nate

    Vin Mazzaro (A’s pitching prospect) went to a rival high school. The older brother of one of the captains of my team (I’m a junior in high school) played against him… and struck out 3 times.

  • Mike Pop

    Longoria-Talked to him at the Hudson Valley Renegades game(in the short time he was there). Not a real convo, just yo Evan good luck man type shit. He was a cool dude. Should of seen how far he hit the ball there. Up in the trees.

  • steve (different one)

    Alex Rodriguez b/c i also love to stare at my strapping biceps in the mirror at my wierd, underground training facility

    • Manimal

      I thought I was the only one…

  • Steve H

    Chris Carpenter-played with his brother in a softball tournament.

    Carlton Fisk-too young to root for him until the latter stages of his career, but my dad played HS basketball against him, and later umpired with his brother Conrad.

  • Matt M.

    Mark Derosa and Brian Cushing (USC football) because they both went to my High School

    • http://www.thechuckknoblog.com Nate

      Bergen Catholic? My friend goes there.

      • Grant

        Hey, a lot of peoples girlfriends are in there. –Farley

  • yankeefan91 Arod fan

    I root for miguel tejada and willy taveras.miguel tejada because ma cuzins has a son with his sister and willy taveras because when my grandfather was dying he and his mom where so helpful when he was young and ill never forget that.

  • Thomas

    Manny Ramirez because he had the balls to repeatedly look Red Sox management in the face and tell them to go eff themselves.

  • Reggie C.

    Pedro Alvarez. Horace Mann alum.

    p.s., I did not play baseball with him.

    • http://liberalmusings.wordpress.com Pablo Zevallos

      I’m sorta pulling for him because he went to a rival school, but it’s also the same reason that I’m not particularly fond of him…

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Reggie: Are you an HM alum too?? What year were you?

    • Sonny Red

      Aside from the obvious guys on the club- Alvarez (HM Alumn as well), Manny Acosta and pretty much any player from NYC or Puerto Rico. And Jim Abbot simply because his no hitter was the maybe the most amazing game ive ever seen.

    • Victoria

      Pedro Alvarez because I graduated high school with him!

  • Tony

    Mark Teixeira because he’s Portuguese

  • Smitt Dog

    I root for Matt Cassel (Chiefs) and Kameron Loe (formerly of the Texas Rangers) because I spent a winter break out with my cousins in Northridge CA in the mid 90’s. That massive earthquake struck and my cousins house was F’d so he and I spent most of the time at his friends houses which happened to be his teammates on his travelling (baseball) team. They were awesome and so were their families. Became pretty good friends with about 7 of the guys on the team, some have gone pro. The above mentioned guys then helped me sneak into the Little League players village when they made it to Williamsport for the LL world series the next year (I was like 14, it was amazing in there). The Northridge team won the U.S. championship and Cassel carried my cousin on his shoulders after the game (he had hit a grandslam in the game and made a diving catch). Both real good, stand up guys from good families.

  • Tony

    billy martin because he’s half portuguese & because he came to down neck with a few ynakees & had a beer with my grandfather

  • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

    Phil Hughes because he’s not Chinese.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=15305165&ref=profile Doug

      I resemble that remark.

  • UNION YES.

    Justin Verlander because he’s a big union guy.

  • UNION YES.

    and Chase Utley. He’s a Humane Society animal advocate type. Does other good charity work too. I like Pat Neshek and CJ Wilson too.

  • http://statspeak.net dan

    I’ve always had a man-crush on Phil Hughes. I have a tape of his first ML start and a 65 jersey in my closet. My friends sometimes make fun of me for my obsession. No real reason behind it though.

    • Grant

      the reason is simple. its because hes the first legit yankee prospect since jeter.

  • yankeefan91 Arod fan

    2years ago me, placido polanco, curtis granderson and cameron maybin when he made his debut at the stadium had a convo for like 15 minutes it was really cool polanco gave mi a baseball.curtis and me were talking there and we kept in touch but he deleted his account.

    • Mike Pop

      Lol, was it because of you trying to talk to him all the time?

      • yankeefan91 Arod fan

        no he was the one that use to hit me up i rarely use to see him online.

    • UNION YES.

      you must be a chick?? no?

      • yankeefan91 Arod fan

        Noooooo i got cool with him because one of his former coaches was at the game and he told me if i wanted to meet him and i was like sure y not and we started chatting there for 15 minutes sumtin like that.

  • Reggie C.

    Austin Jackson. ‘Cause NYC needs a young African American star on one of its baseball teams.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      +1

    • pat

      Hell to the yeah man, I’ve been thinking that to myself for quite sometime now but didn’t know how to bring it up.

    • http://mantisfists.files.wordpress.com/2008/10/julius-carry-aka-shonuff.jpg The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      CC Sabathia says hi.

  • UNION YES.

    damn it VCU. so close.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Horrible end of game execution.

      The whole world knows you’re going to try and get the ball in Maynor’s hands. Why do it 80 feet from the basket? You’ve got 11 seconds left – get the ball upcourt and then hand it off to him.

      Don’t let Collison have a full 80 feet to push Maynor where he wants to push him one on one.

      Game… Blouses.

  • UNION YES.

    I’m rooting for Jay Gibbons.

  • Joey

    Anthony Rizzo (BoSox minor leaguer) I can’t say I root for, obviously, because of the team, but I went to school with him and I’m friends with his girlfriend. He’s the one that had the cancer scare the beginning of last year, really nice guy.

    Fan of Girardi too, when he was the Marlins manager he lived next to my dads friend, talked to him once, really smart, cool guy, and his little kids cute

  • blaise

    i really dont “root” for them i just keep a tab on them…Dellin Betances (nyy prospect) we were in the same division in high school i played against him there and also when he was with youth service baseball in the summer…Danny Almonte (we know the story on him hint: little league)also played against him in high school ….and Pedro Beato (orioles prospect) played against him in the summer he was also on the youth service team with Dellin Betances

  • http://dylankidd@earthlink.net dkidd

    i met hideki matsui at a porn convention in 2005. he was totally cool. kind of shy, but let me take a picture with him. class act

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      i met hideki matsui at a porn convention in 2005.

      Whether it’s true or not, this comment is all sorts of awesome.

  • claybeez

    Well, Tex and Gavin Floyd went to my HS. So, did David Hasselhoff, which was a rumor I’d heard and just confirmed on Google. My cousin, drafted by the Rangers way back, played with Tex – I think. I believe they were two years apart, so Tex may have been on the varsity team as a sophomore. I definitely root for Floyd and Tex a little more knowing that. Hasselhoff, well, I did like Knight Rider as a kid. So, yeah, him too, I guess.

  • Joe LA

    Scott Proctor because we had a similar life experience: we both thought we were done with Joe Torre’s decisions, and then a year later he shoved himself in our faces again (Dodgers and Yankee Years, respectively).

    Joba Chamberlain and myself, because neither of us belongs in the Yankee bullpen.

    Manny Ramirez and myself because I didn’t get my 3 year $100 million dollar contract either.

    oh… and Darrell Rasner because he signed my baseball at a mall once and commented on how hard it is to pull those plastic baseball display cases apart.

  • jason

    I used to root for Pat Strange when he was coming up (METS), I was a good friend of his when we were kids. Man that dude had a nasty fastball it wasnt even fair playing against him.

    On the other side of the coin, I pitched on the same staff as Chris Capuano in High School. I was a right hand power pitcher that blew out his shoulder and he was a crafty lefty. Everything was good between us until our 10 year reunion when mr.big shot mlber thought he could hit on my friends wife. I threatened to be the cause of his next tommy john….turns out he didnt need my help. jerk.

  • Sam

    I hear you ben. I too went to school with alvarez too. I played third base (sub) the year before he came in. He could’ve hit a ball to four-acres

  • http://incumbentgm.wordpress.com The Third Yip-Yip

    Carl Pavano, Chris Denorfia, Rob Dibble, Brad Ausmus, Jeff Bagwell, Rico Brogna (all grew up in my area).

    Dale Berra (met him once at Yogi’s museum, was a real nice guy and signed my hat for me).

    Larry Walker, because I always loved him but he was/is tremendously underrated. Also, I had his number 33 in a summer tournament randomly, and threw a no-hitter, but haven’t thrown one or had that number since.

  • Mark B

    Craig Counsell – he grew up a few doors down from me and we played ball against each other through high school. Great guy…

  • Rob D.

    When reliever Jason Grilli was with the Tigers, he asked me to take a picture of his aunt and him. I had never heard of him before that, but I’ve tracked him ever since.

  • Clayton

    I’ve always followed Craig Breslow because I faced him in high school and was scared out of my mind during the AB. Not too many guys in Connecticut were throwing in the high 80s low 90s in high school.

    For a non-baseball connection, I’ve always followed Chris Drury’s career. We both played at the same rink growing up so I got to meet him and skate randomly when we were younger. I also had his dad as a coach during the first NHL strike season and Chris’s brother Ted, who was on the Whale at the time, came to our practice and signed photos for us. The whole family is extremely nice.

    • Rick A

      I root for Craig Breslow as well, because he went to my high school (Trumbull High), and his father (Abe) was my gym teacher junior year and he always used to talk about how his son had just gotten drafted. I also root for Drury because we grew up in the same town, and lived like a half-mile away from my parents house.

      Clayton, you must be from Bridgeport or Fairfield I’m guessing?

      • Clayton

        Actually, I grew up in Easton, went to Barlow

  • Marsha

    Whitey Ford because he lives in Great Neck where I grew up.

    Derek Jeter because he will someday be my son-in-law!

  • ATL

    I live in Atlanta and I’m a huge Yankees fan. But I’ll always root for Chipper Jones. My wife worked as a nanny for his children and even lived in his house with him and his family for nearly a year before we got married.

  • putt

    On the exact opposite side of this coin, I’ve been rooting AGAINST Carl Pavano longer than anyone on this board. Most of your hatred is only a few yrs old…mine’s been stewing for 15! He K’d me on 3 pitches my freshman year of HS, his senior year, in a scrimmage.

    He threw me two fastballs I that couldn’t touch and punched me out on a curveball that a 135 lb. second basemen such as myself, had no chance of adjusting to. Then he kinda laughed…

    Who knew our paths would cross again years later and he’d give me even more reasons to loathe him?

  • Joel

    Robbie Cano: We yield from the same high school, I’ve gone to his house, i am good friends with his godsister, and he gave me this black and red glove signed by him.

    Also, Rick Porcello: I got a double off his 94 MPH fastball my sophomore or junior year in high school, that way i can say i got a hit off a Major League Pitcher!

  • EdB

    Eric Duncan because he used to date my buddies sister.

    Scooter because we lived in the same neighborhood while i was growing up (80s).

    Jeter because I used to live near his parents (90s).

    Basically any Yankees from the local area (Humberto Sanchez, Betances, Duncan, etc).

  • UNION YES.

    Ryan Grant went to my high school for a couple of years. Wish he was still with the Giants.