Wednesday, August 26, 2009

This was painful...

But necessary, in the interest of thorough research.
I had been to Red Sox-Yankees games at Fenway Park many times, dating back (believe it or not) to when Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle were playing. Seriously. I probably still had diapers on, but I was there. I've also been to Red Sox-Yankees games at both the old and the new Yankee Stadium. I had observed how fans of either team behave at both places, but I had never been in the position of looking like a Yankee fan at Fenway.

Size doesn't matter.
On Sunday night Kara and I went to the final regular season Red Sox-Yankees game at Fenway...wearing - gulp -Yankees caps. I tried five places before I found any. I wound up buying two at the small souvenir shop across the street from the Cask & Flagon. They had a gazillion Sox hats and two Yankee hats down on the bottom shelf. I cleared my throat and told the guy I wanted two Yankees caps, said that adjustable was fine and size didn't really matter. He handed me the caps and said, "Enjoy the game." No big deal. We put them on and headed across the crowded street to Gate E. One guy with a Yankee hat gave me thumbs up, and I heard a few guys singing, "Boo Yankees" but only for a moment and not very loudly. I bought a couple of the $2 scorebooks they sell on the sidewalk. The guy said, "Enjoy the game." The ticket taker booped the bar code on our tickets and said, "Enjoy the game." Part of the format, evidently. Note: nobody said that to us at Yankee Stadium.
We walked upstairs to the 3rd base pavilion, waited in line and got some food. Then waited in line and got a couple of beers. No one called us out, no one gave us hostile looks. We walked around some more, and then headed to our seats. Nothing. Josh Beckett delivered the first pitch of the game and Derek Jeter hit it into the bullpen. Numerous Yankee fans in the stands jumped up a cheered, and Kara said to me, "We should cheer so we're actually believable." I agreed, but told her I couldn't really do that. Just wearing the hat was giving me a headache and I started seeing floaters in front of my eyes.
On it went. At the end of the 5th, we got up and walked around some more to see if anything happened. We got two more beers and returned to our seats.

That's when we got outed.
By three different people. Nikki, who sometimes sits in seat #10 (we have 11 and 12) had been told by her boyfriend Jason, a Boston cop, that he'd spotted us wearing enemy headgear. When we got back to the seats Nikki turned and said, "Jason saw you guys walking around and said to me, "I'm sure that's Don and Kara, but they're wearing Yankees hats." A guy in the row behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Okay, I have to ask. I've seen you and your daughter here scoring the game at least 29 times and you always have Red Sox hats on. What with the Yankees hats?" At that point the game was official, so we took off our Yankee caps and put on the Red Sox caps that Kara had hidden in her bag. Another guy in the row behind said, "Hey, did you guys change your hats?" I came clean, and told them that I have a blog and I'm doing research to see if Yankee fans at Fenway are treated the same way, better, or worse than Red Sox fans at Yankee Stadium.
The three measures.
Based on the three measures I use...1) how you treat visitors when they are guests in your house, 2) how you act when you're a guest in someone else's house, 3) how you act in general when the subject of the rivalry comes up at a party or dinner or something like that.
Extra, extra! Yankee fans are rude.
Yankee fans are noticeably more rude to visitors than Red Sox fans. Not a surprise, really. As "Yankee fans" at Fenway we endured no abuse whatsoever. It was like, okay there's a Yankee fan, but I don't care.
It's a different experience as Red Sox fans at Yankee Stadium.
Two years age the guys behind us were so bad we almost left, but they got thrown out. Not for for the disgusting stuff they were yelling, but for sneaking beers into the alcohol-free bleachers. This year we were in field level seats by the right field foul pole. Much more expensive, and presumably drawing a better class of clientele. These are big, comfortable padded seats. You get waitress service. You can order a Ketel One with lime. But you're still surrounded by Yankee fans. On the way in the security guy tried to take my camera away. New Yankee Stadium was the 35th major league ballpark where I've seen a game, and I've never had a camera problem before. Another Red Sox fan saw me and said, "Just go to a different gate."' I did, and it worked. Inside a guy said to me, "Hey, pal...Baws-tin ain't playin' here ta-night..they're over at Citi Field." Yuck, yuck. At the seats someone said, "Hey we got some chowda-heads." One guy passing Kara in the concourse said, "Why don't you just kill yourself?" It wasn't just us, of course. Several Red Sox fans scattered throughout the stadium were subjected to various degrees of razzing.

Who really sucks?
The "Yankees suck" chants at Fenway are fewer and farther between than in years past, but they're still there - usually when the Yankees score. At Yankee Stadium they chant "Boston sucks"...but their chants aren't as well orchestrated. More importantly, we chant about their team. They chant about our city. It's never "Red Sox suck," it's "Boston sucks." Outside the parks the t-shirts follow that pattern. In Boston you can get t-shirts saying funny but rude things about Jeter or A Rod. In New York the t-shirts just say "Buck Foston."

Yankee fans are more likely to be loud and obnoxious.
Too many of them wear loud, garish Yankee gear. When a Yankee player does something at Fenway you can count on a bunch of Yankee fans jumping up and making a big deal out of it. "CC...way to throw a strike!" or "Hip hip Hor-HAY" or "The Melk-man dee-livvers." This is more than cheering, it's loud. They stand up to do it, and stay standing way too long, blocking your view. It's probably intentional. Shut up and sit down.

Red Sox fans are more likely to behave.
On the other hand, Red Sox fans at Yankee Stadium are more likely to wear a simple blue cap with a red B. Maybe a Mike Lowell shirt. They'll sit there and enjoy the game quietly. Of course, this might well be caused by fear of getting their ass kicked.

At a party.
Yankee fans love to talk about The Babe, Bucky Dent, Bill Buckner and Aaron Boone. They love to flaunt their 26 World Championships and laugh about how we waited 86 years. Do they have a decent response if you point out that 18 of those 26 happened over 50 years ago? That 22 of those 26 were over 30 years ago? That the last three Yankee wins happened in the steroid era? No, they don't.

Ah, yes...the steroid era.
During the game in New York, one week after the news about David Ortiz broke, he got the expected hoots, although nothing worse than A Rod, Damon or Gary Sheffield have gotten at Fenway. One guy kept calling him "Big Popup." Of course, Ortiz did nothing to shut the guy up, popping up three times. He also grounded out and hit into an inning-ending double-play.

Here's what got me. When Ortiz would come up they'd hold up signs that said 1918, 2004*, 2007*. Really? You want to talk asterisks? Let's look at the last ten years...1998 through 2008, including the last two times the Yankees won the World Series and the two most recent Red Sox wins. On the Red Sox side of the ledger you've got Papi and Manny on the list. What about Yankees during that period? Got your pen ready? There's Ricky Bones, Rondell White, Jason Grimsley, Chuck Knoblauch, David Justice, Jose Canseco, Glenallen Hill, Jim Leyritz, Randy Velarde, Denny Neagle, Mike Stanton, Kevin Brown, Aaron Boone, Matt Lawton, Ron Villone, Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens and A Rod. That's 20-2, bad guys.

Yankee fans are worse. Your witness.

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