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Jerry Milani
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May 8 - My Many Sports Marriages

I've always been of the opinion that you pick your teams when you're, say, 9 or 10 years old, and they're
yours for life.  A polygamous marriage between you, the fan, and a favorite team from each sport.  
Wedded bliss.

Some guy called ESPN Radio this morning, said he was a Yankees fan, and talked about how he also
now roots for the Mets, to “keep his options open.”

I nearly drove off the road.

This dude is passionate (read: kooky) enough to call up sports radio to talk about the Yankees, and he's
“keeping his options open?”  Wrong, very wrong.

I watched the garbage-time final quarter tick off the first round playoff series between the Mavs and the
Rockets, a series which had six really good games followed by Saturday's game seven “stinker.”  Of
course, being an original Mavs fan, a 40-point win is no stinker, especially in a Game 7.  

I've lived and died with the Mavs over the past quarter century, just as with my other teams, the Packers
and Yankees, and, until their untimely death by relocation nearly a decade ago, the Winnipeg Jets.  I'm
fairly sure that four-team combination, especially in the early 80's when mediocrity would have been an
improvement for any of the four, was shared by less than 1/100 percent of sports fandom.

By good fortune, I was born into the Yankees.  An arranged marriage.  It was around 1979 when I started
getting interested in the other major sports, and when it came to picking my teams, I had to go against
the norm.  I also decided I would pick teams at or near the bottom, with no place to go but up, and ones
that my friends didn't root for.  In a sea of Giants, Cowboys, Knicks and Rangers fans, I needed teams to
call my own.

I'm not sure why I picked the Pack, other than I vaguely remember watching them play the Giants one
Sunday afternoon, and -- poof -- they were mine.  A short courtship.  When I learned about their heritage,
I was hooked.  Already sporting a seven year post-season drought, it took them another 15 years before
they made the playoffs under my “watch.”  Lean times indeed, but I'm proud to have stuck with them and
have been rewarded with regular playoff teams for more than a decade and a Super Bowl title.

It was the Mavs' inaugural season in 1980, which meant no one was a fan, making them an obvious
selection for me.  There have been plenty of abysmal years since, and less than memorable first round
draft picks like Bill Garnet, Uwe Blab and Randy White, but the Mark Cuban era has made them a great
team to root for over the past few years.  Fun to watch, on TNT and ESPN a lot, and actually advancing in
the playoffs.

And the Jets?  The moniker “Lose-a-peg” was just gaining fashion following an unsightly 9-57-14 record
in 1980-81.  Sold.  Sadly, 15 years and just a single playoff series win later, the Jets were headed south
to Phoenix and I could never bring myself to watch hockey much after that.  Though widowed, I guess I'll
always be a Jets fan at heart.  I even have a commemorative puck and mini-stick on my desk at work.  I
might be the only New Yorker who can say that...

Human nature may make people gravitate towards a winner, and for many fans, changing team loyalties
as easily and often as they would their oil comes naturally.  But, in sickness and in health, my Yanks,
Pack and Mavs (and R.I.P. my Jets) are mine.

Till death or relocation do us part.