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Dating Triumphs and Tragedies
by Nicole Roberge

On a Different Playing Field

On the eve of the first Yankees/Red Sox game of the season, I am reminded of my most recent relationship gone awry. The breakup was for the best, really, though I can’t totally place the blame on the guy. Johnny Damon is highly at fault.

Sports are usually an aspect of many relationships, whether one or both partners are fans, or one is a fanatic and the other just puts up with it. Many couples have to deal with this and what happens when sports get in the way. But I have never experienced anything like rival-team-dating.

I took a big chance with this last guy….let’s call him Bo. Bo Sox. I met Bo one day when I was with some friends. There he was in all his glory—wearing a Red Sox shirt. Any guy with Red Sox apparel usually goes right under the radar; I’m just programmed not to notice him, no matter who he is. Which is why, if they hadn’t pointed him out, I probably wouldn’t have seen him.



Growing up in Connecticut, we had the freedom to choose—Yankees or Red Sox. My family are proud Yankees fans, and I inherited that love of baseball and pinstripes (and developed a healthy appreciation for Mike Mussina along the way). Which is why I have always been well aware that the Cardinal Rule for being a Yankees fan is: Never Date a Red Sox Fan. And I hadn’t, until now.

I could only avoid Bo for so long, because we started talking and to my surprise, he was nice and funny and not at all the stereotypical Boston fan. Sure, I’ve had friends who are Red Sox fans, I just don’t always admit to it. So when Bo asked me out, I hesitated. But I took a chance on him because he seemed to be more of a baseball fan than just a fanatical Boston fan, and I figured if it goes bad, no one would have to know. But if things start to go well, I could just tell my family the reason he’s not a Yankees fan is because he doesn’t like baseball. The only thing worse than not liking baseball is being a Red Sox fan. At least a little cover up like that would better than the truth.

On our first date, he took me out to a nice restaurant for dinner, and then to my surprise, to a sports bar, which I loved. We caught some bits of Spring Training, drank beer, and talked baseball. He made fun of me for having a dress on (Yankees fans are kind of sissy, he told me), and I could make fun of him for endless things—he was a Sox fan, after all. From Bucky Dent to Boone’s home run to the newest Yankee, straight from the Sox, Johnny Damon. But it was never malicious, like some Boston-New York conversations often get. It was playful, heated fighting, or, as much as I tried to deny it, flirting. Red Sox fans were generally insane, I told myself, and though we had a good time, that was the end of it.

But by the end of the night, I had found myself in a situation that I couldn’t get out of. I was in too deep. I actually liked this guy. I later had to say it out loud to believe it, and even then, I shuddered. “I like a Red Sox fan,” I proclaimed, and when those words were uttered, my good reputation as a loyal Yankees girl was slandered forever.

The more we went out and the more fun we had, I thought, maybe this isn’t so bad. We had many of those Red Sox-Yankees arguments, and though I knew I was always right, it was still a lot of fun pretending we were sorry and making up afterwards. I began to think about the coming baseball season, and that perhaps, there might be many good seasons ahead of us.

One afternoon, there we were on the couch, a beer in hand, and watching a Spring Training game that was on TV. It was the perfect afternoon. Things were going great until the subject of Johnny Damon came up, and though Bo claimed (like so many other whiney Sox fans) to hate Damon for betraying the Sox and going to the Yanks and that he wasn’t even that good anyway, it seemed he just longed to have him back. But when I dropped the bomb that I wasn’t ready to accept Damon yet and he hadn’t quite proved himself as a Yankee, he blew up at me.

I should have known a moment like this was coming.

“Mr. Sox! Why are you yelling?!” was all I could say.

He fought his point like a fourth-grade little boy standing up for his team at recess. I was floored. He was being ridiculous.

Apparently, he had a lot to yell about. “Just because Damon played for Boston, you don’t like him?” he asked me. I calmly told him that he simply hadn’t earned his spot as a Yankee yet. It was a simple enough thing that a girl wants to see a guy prove himself. Maybe evil Boston had planted him in New York to sabotage the team. Kidding. But no matter what kind of rationalization I tried to use with Mr. Sox, it didn’t work. He went into a whole schpeel of how if I’m not willing to accept Damon as a Yankee, does that mean I wouldn’t accept him if I found out there was something in his past I didn’t like? I didn’t plan on sticking around long enough to figure what in his past I wouldn’t like. If anything, I figured it was that he really was an Idiot, and that nothing had changed.

It was all a little dramatic and went on far too long for me to care anymore. While he made a nice effort at trying to sound as if there was a deeper meaning behind the outburst, when it came down to it, my new man was pledging his allegiance to the Red Sox over me. Our budding new relationship had lasted through Spring Training, but didn’t quite make it to Opening Day.

We broke up of course, and that was the end of me and Bo Sox. His little baseball analogies that were once so cute, I now realized to be stupid. His love of the Green Monster? Lame. But I couldn’t even think about him anymore, because I was instead consumed with how I had betrayed the men that I was most faithful too…my Yankees. After all, he had pledged his loyalty to the Red Sox over me. I felt guilty. I had let down my boys in blue. Or was that sort of thinking the problem? For both of us—putting our love of baseball before the person?

Dating is tricky enough without a sports rivalry to get in the way, but it happens. The real trick then is how to deal with it so that it doesn’t sabotage a possible relationship. While I could play it safe and vow only to date Yankees fans, or non-threatening teams, I know that’s not the answer either. I can’t forever avoid men who wear Red Sox hats. I guess that part of it is not letting your stubbornness (not that I’m stubborn, of course) get in the way and realizing that it’s just a team. And unless one of the Yankees are calling me up to ask me out, maybe it’s okay to venture outside of the Yanks ballpark to date.

So I think I’ll leave my dating arena open to the possibility of letting some Red Sox fans in. Things with Bo didn’t work out so well, but that doesn’t mean the next time won’t be better. This past relationship, I was on a totally different playing field. Literally. And while I’ll never make the transition from Yankee Stadium to Fenway, I might be willing to play a few games over there now and then. So maybe I should give Mr. Damon a chance too, just like I had to Mr. Sox. I do love a man in pinstripes.

Dating Triumphs and Tragedies is published every Sunday by Online Dating Magazine columnist Nicole Roberge. She can be reached at

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