A Yankee Fan In Cuba

Dec 15, 2010 | By David Savona

I work in New York City, and I root for the New York Yankees, so you would be forgiven for assuming that I work in an environment surrounded by others who share my allegiance for the boys in pinstripes. Not so. In an odd twist of fate, I recently found my baseball fandom far more appreciated in Havana, Cuba, then here in the city that never sleeps.

Last Tuesday night I was sitting at a table in the very good La Imprenta, a government-run restaurant (read all about it in Gordon Mott's blog), when a waiter came up to us and asked where we were from. When we mentioned New York City, his face brightened. "The New York Yankees!" he said proudly. I smiled. Gordon frowned.

A little backstory for those of you new to this blog; I love the New York Yankees, and always have. I remember watching the 1977 World Series in my pajamas (I was nine years old, and sat with my mitt in my hand, as if a foul ball might come through the screen) and screaming as Reggie Jackson hit three, count 'em, three home runs in one game. Working in New York City, home of the New York Yankees, one might assume that I toil alongside fellow fans of the world's greatest baseball team.

But no. In fact, I'm surrounded by Yankee haters. My good buddy Jack Bettridge is an Orioles fan. (Tough life for Jack, but I suppose it's fair, since he ought to pay some price for all that fine booze he drinks.) Gordon Mott, my boss and Cuba travel companion, loves the Boston Red Sox.

Remember the 2004 baseball season? The one where the Red Sox broke the curse of the Bambino? Well, Gordon has a stuffed bear outfitted in a Red Sox uniform that he keeps in his office (don't ask why) and when the Sox came back and beat my Yankees, he called me into his office and made me kiss the bear's feet. (You see? It isn't all roses working here at Cigar Aficionado.) So it's safe to say he's a fervent Red Sox fan, and one who has no love for the Yankees.

Back to Havana and that table at La Imprenta. There, in the heart of Communist Cuba, this Yankees fan was made to feel completely at home. Waiter after waiter came by, each one proclaiming his love for the Yankees, each one not comprehending how a New Yorker such as Gordon could root for the Red Sox.

"I like this place," I told Gordon, firing up a Montecristo Petit Edmundo right at the table.

He only shook his head.

"Isn't Cliff Lee the guy who was beaten like a drum TWICE in the World Series by the "washed up" bats in the Giants lineup?" —December 25, 2010 22:33 PM
"Phillies fan here, David. Can you say Cliff Lee? :) " —December 16, 2010 15:43 PM
"Well, as you know, I too am an Orioles' fan. Ever since the Happy Bird was replaced by an ornithologically-correct team emblem, the O's fate has been sour. OK, maybe Peter Angelos has something to do with it as well. Your experience in Cuba is no surprise since Cuban defectors -- El Duque, Jose Contreras -- who were big stars on the island's national team landed on the Yankees once they found the freedom to pursue their potential. I believe what you found among the waiters is further testimony in support of lifting the US embargo/blockade on Cuba. We need to make sure that Cuban baseball fans understand that the Yankees are the true imperialists -- the Yanquis -- of the MLB, the "evil empire," if you will. Of course, if you had told them what the ticket prices were to the new Yankee Stadium, the waiters might have begun to think about things differently. " —December 15, 2010 21:05 PM
"I'm not a big baseball fan, despite having lived in the US for several years as a student. I tried my best to watch it, but the games just seemed to drag on forever. And every other batter takes an ages to get 3-2, then get's a walk, only for the next batter to get to 3-2 (did i say this takes forever), then gets out on a popped flyball. Ad infinitum, ad nauseum. There must be a reason why this game is the national pastime, but i just didn't see it." —December 15, 2010 21:04 PM

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