SCOTT SIMON, host:
New York newspapers blared this week: Red Coat, Traitor and The Yankee Flipper.
Rudolph Giuliani, who so often appeared in the box seats of Yankee stadium topped by a Yankee cap and grinning like a 6-year-old in each Yankee victory, told a group of reporters in New Hampshire, a state in Red Sox nation that holds the first presidential primary - I will be rooting for the Red Sox because I am an American League fan. You won the division and we lost.
How gracious. How statesman-like. How incredible.
Now I don't feel I have the right or sense to judge another man or woman's religious faith, sexual orientation or family relations. But I'm sorry: Yankee fans don't root for the Red Sox. It's like Sylvester rooting for Tweety Pie. It would be like Napoleon shaking hands with the Duke of Wellington after Waterloo and saying, you won, we lost, my bad. Now, we root for you. Tally ho, or whatever it is you Brits say.
When Mr. Giuliani was a feared and respected federal prosecutor in New York, he used to talk about the brass it had taken for him to grow up on the streets of Brooklyn as a Yankee fan. It confirmed his integrity and toughness. A man willing to stand up for the Yankees in Brooklyn would be tough enough to take on Ivan Boesky, Mike Milliken, Colombian druglords and Fat Tony Salerno. But this week's declaration that he's rooting for Boston in the World Series makes Mr. Giuliani sound positively Clintonesque.
When Hillary Clinton first ran for a New York Senate seat, she was ridiculed for telling reporters that though she had grown up as a Cubs fan in Chicago, the Yankees were always her favorite American League team. Of course, baseball players swap teams all the time. Roger Clemens has been with the Red Sox, the Blue Jays, the Yankees, the Astros, and then the Yankees again. If baseball players can switch allegiance more than an Afghan warlord, why not the fans?
One of the best old Broadway musicals, "Damn Yankees," is about a man who sells his soul to the devil so his team can finally defeat the Yankees. Last July, a Providence Journal reporter who knows his Broadway asked Mr. Giuliani: If the devil said you can be president if you become a Red Sox fan, would you do it? I'm a Yankee fan, the mayor replied - then. I have great respect for Mets fans, for Red Sox fans, for all fans. But probably that's a deal I could not make. Well, he did say probably.
If next year's elections come down to a Clinton-Giuliani contest, it will be interesting to see two Yankee fans run against each other - claiming that really, they're Red-White-Sox-Dodgers-Tigers-Cubs-Angels-Marlins fans, depending on where they need the electoral votes.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.