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Do you take this man ...
and his favorite teams?

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It has taken me awhile, but since I've stopped working each and every Sunday morning SportsCenter, I've joined the legion of ladies who pick up the New York Times style section to read about the weddings of people we don't know.

Of course, I still read the sports section first.

Chris McKendry
A Philadelphia native, Chris McKendry has embraced the Yankees for her husband's sake.
Twisting together these weekly reads, I feel confident advising all brides and bridegrooms to remember that not only do you marry a person and their family but you also marry their sports allegiances. This is important to understand, since many are equally as unobjective about their teams as they are about their own flesh and blood. Some couples root for the same teams. That's nice. It's for those couples who don't that I offer the following pointers.

Before we continue, please note. This is not advice for football widows. I'm not capable of addressing that problem.

But each September I celebrate my wedding anniversary, prepare for the inevitable Yankees' postseason run and quietly suffer the endless "this is their season" discussions about the Jets. The first I do out of love, the latter two out of duty.

Hey, I understood what I was signing up for. I married a New Yorker -- a Yankees, Jets, Knicks and Rangers fan. Yes, this is odd. He breaks the Yankees/Giants-Jets/Mets rule. But it's pure. He formed his allegiances while the Giants were splitting town for New Jersey. Since the Jets stayed longer, they got his support. You have to respect that.

Unfortunately, I'm not from a town with choices. I'm watching my only baseball team, the Phillies, push Atlanta for all its worth. I'm hoping that a Phillies star from my youth -- Larry Bowa -- leads the team back to the postseason. But honestly, I'm rather thrilled that they made it this far. A worst-to-first turnaround is a great accomplishment, but a worst-to-almost first isn't bad, either. And I understand the economics of the game. The Phils weren't even on Mike Mussina's very long list, let alone the short one.

But to mention these tired topics in September only looks like sour grapes. And why go there? Champagne is on my New Yorker's mind as he hopes the Yankees get enough rest for the playoffs. After all, the A's pushed them to the brink in the first round last postseason.

Tip No. 1: Embrace differences or they'll only drive you crazy.

It's not a sacrifice. Actually, marrying someone with different allegiances gives you twice as many chances to cheer, gloat or, at the very least, reasons to watch.

For example, my in-laws have season tickets to Yankee Stadium. This luxury creates plenty of commotion within the family during the postseason. Who gets to go? What if there's a sweep? Was anyone gypped by a sweep or short series last year? Can girlfriends and boyfriends attend, or only family? The debates rage as my very generous and patient father-in-law stews.

You see, even fans of the successful have problems. But going to Yankee Stadium very late in the fall has been a tradition for as long as we've been us.

We go into Manhattan, take the subway, find our seats, look for celebrities, take pictures of the field, analyze and cheer. That's an unusual experience for me -- usually, I witness events from the press box, accompanied by too many people hoping for a sweep. I love sitting in the stands.

In 1996, we attended Game 2 of the World Series. The Yankees lost and were down 0-2. Afterward, as we walked to the subway, a loudmouth New Yorker yelled over the crowd "Yankees in six." Everyone laughed. You know the rest. Lucky guess.

I was there in 1999 when the Yankees beat the Braves to give Roger Clemens his first World Series.

Last year, we attended Game 1 of the Subway Series. From our seats, I could see P-Diddy (who was still Puff Daddy) and J-Lo cheering for the Yankees and sitting just down the row from Fred Wilpon, the owner of the Mets. Total entertainment before the game even started -- and then it went extra innings.

But there's always a price to be paid for being a sympathizer. Two days after Game 1, my husband went to the Dolphins-Jets game at the Meadowlands. It was the greatest comeback in "Monday Night Football" history. His friends left at halftime. So, with nobody to share his joy and wonder, he called me and talked me through the action ... as if ABC didn't reach Connecticut. (His ticket stub from this game sits on his desk at work next to our wedding photo. It doesn't cover my face or anything, though.)

Tip No. 2: Remember, Patience and communication is vital to a happy union.

It's always easier to accept your mate's team when that team employs one of your guys. For example, this year his Jets have Herman Edwards, who was one of my Eagles first.

Likewise, while I cheer for the Sixers, he roots for Allen Iverson. They're fellow Georgetown Hoyas.

Sometimes in relationships, though, it's the little things that cause the biggest problems.

Tip No. 3 Remember, total honesty is a good policy.

Eric Lindros
When Eric Lindros went from the Flyers to the Rangers, he went from one side of the McKendry household to the other.
Take the New York Rangers, please. This one I can't fake.

The Flyers traded Eric Lindros to the Rangers. About two months ago, I wrote about my Flyers and the doom Eric and his legion of family members brought on my beloved franchise.

Lindros left my team. But he's still my problem.

While, as a household, we agree Lindros could be the second coming of Phil Esposito, as far as a big scorer past his prime, we disagree on whether this is a good thing.

In other words, though I don't know if Lindros is a cancer in the clubhouse, I do know this: He's still a cancer in my kitchen.

If, in fact, your love's love drives you crazy, here's one a strategy to consider: The sucker bet. He or she might be blinded by belief in the team. And it very well could be an easy win. It's not really nice, but he or she should respect your savvy.)

Tip No. 4: Don't fight nasty, though. Try to make sure the payoff benefits the household.

For example, the Flyers' sweep of the Rangers in the 1995 conference semifinals resulted in a new barbecue grill and car wash. All right, the second wager was a bit one-sided, since it was my car and he had to wash it. But I called "sweep" prior to the series starting. A bold move on my part. Hey, I'm a professional. And I'm pretty sure a professional drive-thru car wash did the work, anyhow.

Tip No. 5: Look on the bright side, accept the bad with the good. Laugh at your teams, your mate's teams and their fates. But don't laugh at each other for believing in them.

Remember, it's only sports.

I'm reminded of this, along with everyone else in America, while reading another section of the New York Times. It's printed daily, and I never miss it. Thankfully, as with the wedding page, I don't know anyone on this page; still, I can't put it down. It's the page that tells the stories of the people who are missing or dead as a result of the World Trade Center attacks.

I think about the men there -- and the wives left behind -- and I'm thankful 10-3 Jets games are still a part of my Sundays. Those lucky ugly green sweatpants have never looked better.

SportsCenter anchor Chris McKendry is a regular columnist for Page 2.

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