From the streets of Jersey comes our newest Big League Steward

'Duk note: The sad shuttering of Walkoff Walk last month turns out to be the Stew's gain. We're pleased to welcome Rob Iracane into the fold with his first appearance as a frequent contributor to BLS. Please follow him here and on Twitter (@iracane). Take it away, Rob ...

Everyone knows a Yankees fan. Drop into any bar, saloon or pub in the world and you'll find some guy shaking his head about his obnoxious friend with the Don Mattingly jersey and bloated sense of entitlement. Similarly, it seems that everybody knows somebody who either currently lives in or has previously lived in the great state of New Jersey. "You're from Jersey?" they ask. I nod, and they say "My Uncle Bill's college roommate was from Ho-Ho-Kus!" Was he now.

So it stands to reason that the most pigeonholed baseball fan is someone like me, the guy from Jersey who lives and breathes the New York Yankees. I am one of them, but in a way, I am not. The well-worn, navy blue T-shirt you see with the interlocking N-Y on the front and the No. 2 on the back may seem like any other ... but the guy who wears it is not. Even though I'm an ardent, life-long Yankees fan from North Jersey, I'm not like the rest of the jamokes who proclaim allegiance to the Bronx Bombers.

Yes, Virginia, it really is true: There are plenty of rational and reasonable Yankees fans. Some of them even have thought-provoking blogs about the team. But that doesn't change the fact that most folks have the general opinion that Yankees fans are a bunch of misogynistic Joey Buttafuocos and misanthropic Tony Sopranos. I'm here to prove that stereotype wrong. Give me a chance to inform and entertain you with my writing at Big League Stew and I will show you that Yankees fans can not only spell words correctly but can also put them together in phrases, sentences and paragraphs!

I've been around these parts a few times before, most infamously when I eulogized Yankee Stadium by saying, "Tear it down already, the dump." I'm no mouthpiece for the most prolific franchise in sports history, no sir. If there is something negative to be said about the team with more championships than any other American team, by golly I'll come out and say it.

But make no mistake: There is a vast array of news and happenings to write about in the world of baseball that doesn't involve the Yankees. Over the upcoming season, I'd like to talk about everything from the business of our national pastime to the foodstuffs we eat when we go to the ballpark. For those of you familiar with my work at my former home, Walkoff Walk, you know that I tend to get sociological and even a bit political. Our focus at the blog was "baseball and the human condition," not "baseball and the teams we love especially the one that plays in the Bronx."

Baseball must always come first, just like it does here at Big League Stew. 'Duk started this great blog three years ago this month, at the same time my pal Kris Liakos and I started Walkoff Walk. Kris, as a Red Sox fan, was saddled with the same bad reputation but readers of our old blog know that we could rise above petty rivalries to put out good writing. I know that I can fit in here at the Stew if I do what 'Duk and the rest of the gang do best: Keep baseball fun.

Just don't hold my home state and Yankees fandom against me.

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