Aviles suddenly in the middle of it
A native New Yorker who grew up in a household where baseball allegiances were split between the Yankees and Mets, Mike Aviles somehow remained neutral.
Last night, Aviles, who was acquired by the Red Sox last Saturday from the Royals, found himself thrust into the greatest rivalry in baseball:
Red Sox vs. Yankees.
“It’s definitely something different,’’ Aviles said. “Growing up in New York, my family was either half diehard Yankees or half diehard Mets. I kind of tried to sit out of it, but you know a lot about the rivalry and now to be wearing Red Sox stuff is kind of different. It’s difficult for my family more than myself.’’
Aviles graduated from Middletown (N.Y.) High in 1999 and went to Concordia College.
“I just want to win,’’ Aviles said. “That’s sort of the bottom line. I don’t care where it is. I’m with the Red Sox now and I’m enjoying my time here and we have a very good team and I’m excited to be a part of this series.’’
So, who was most conflicted among his family members about Aviles joining the Red Sox?
“I would say my mom and my aunt because they’re huge Yankee fans,’’ Aviles said, breaking into a wide smile before last night’s game. “They said they would cheer for me, but they said they didn’t know if they could wear Boston gear yet. They said they might have to wait a little while. Either way, they know the business side of it and they know who’s supporting me and they’ve got to come out and cheer for our team.’’
But others in Aviles’s family placed no such conditions on him.
“They’re Mets fans, so they were on board right away,’’ he said. “All of ’em went out and grabbed Boston gear and Boston hats. They just want to see us win.’’
So, Mets fans everywhere are automatically opposed to the Yankees, and vice versa?
“Absolutely,’’ Aviles said. “That’s how it is in New York.’’
Aviles was a fan of neither New York team.
“I was a fan of Seattle, because of Griffey,’’ he said. “I was a fan of Ken Griffey growing up. It was one of those deals where he was one of my favorite players, my idol, so I was a Seattle fan.
“This way I stay out of all the arguments. Now I’m right in the middle of it. But you know what? This is a good team to be on. I can’t really say much. We have a good winning atmosphere here, it’s a good team with a lot of good ballplayers. Now it’s about going out there and winning some games.’’
Aviles recorded his first major league hit June 6, 2008, against the Yankees in New York, a double off Darrell Rasner.
With the Royals out of the playoff race this season, Aviles viewed it as an opportunity when he got traded to the Red Sox.
“I was extremely excited,’’ he said. “To come to an atmosphere such as this one, with all the history here at Fenway, and knowing the guys who are on this team a lot better, guys who have been around for a while and know how to win and won some championships here. Just knowing that I’m going to be a part of that and trying to win a championship here, it was more than unbelievable for me.’’
There was one other added perk.
“Playing in the AL East, I get to be closer to New York and Baltimore a couple of times a year, so it helps out,’’ Aviles said. “So my mom was coming [to last night’s game] with my oldest daughter [Kyla, 6], my grandmother, and my sister.’’
Asked if they were planning to be attired in Red Sox gear, Aviles said with a chuckle, “They’d better be wearing their Boston stuff, or else they’re not getting a ticket.’’
Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.