In a best-of-five series, the Sox and NY Yankees are tied one game apiece with two of the next three games played in Yankee Stadium, a park uniquely constructed to allow Yankee players to hit an inordinate number of home runs and thus obtain a “structural advantage.” Today, Red Sox fans are in agony at the prospect that they will yield to their arch-rivals after winning 108 games (best in the Majors) and beating the Yankees in league standings by eight games. And it may be that the Yankees, a formidable team with 100 wins itself, will prevail; they ain’t chopped liver and they have a couple of spectacular rookie players to augment their already-robust lineup.
What interests me is the vehemence of the Yankee friends I know. (I admit this post is based on a tiny sample, in part because I don’t know many Yankee fans, but as to that small cohort my data is 100% accurate.
One “friend” showed up at my Boston office for lunch wearing a Yankee shirt. I ask you: is this proper business attire anywhere, let alone in downtown Beantown? Could he be reacting to the broom I gave him earlier in the season when Boston took four straight games from the Yanks? I think rather it is just the Yankee habit of entitlement. Having won so many Series in a prior century, they just get this super-aggressive mind-set. Like the cartoon character of my youth, Crusader Rabbit, they will don their cape and fly through the air and proclaim to one and all that they will surely win, as it is in their DNA (the strands of which have been unfurled into the straight lines of the Pinstripe uniforms no doubt).
Then there is an old friend of mine, now in France, who texted me condolences when the Yanks won the second game. From France!! (I didn’t even know you could get the baseball scores over there.) Always slightly off center, this good dear friend, growing up a Yankees fan in Brooklyn during the great rivalries of the ’40s and ’50s, he now lives in (get this) Cincinnati (did I even spell the name of that backwater correctly?) but seems wholly invested in a Yankee victory without regard for the sensibilities of one of his closest friends, here in Boston. Does he really have a horse in this race? Well, perhaps the hind end of one.
Which brings me to why I care at all, seeing as how I grew up rooting for a team that no longer exists (you can take the team out of Brooklyn but that surely takes the Brooklyn out of the team), that Boston should beat the Yankees. I grew up during the true “fan-bonding years” (aged 5-15) as an avid Dodger fan and thus a true Yankee hater. I suffered through the years that the Yankees beat the Dodgers in the Series (1947, 1949, 1952, 1953) and those years when the Yankees took the Series even when the Dodgers failed to even compete in it.
I was so rabid that I even argued that Duke Snyder was a better center fielder than Mickey Mantle (sure they are both in the Hall, but Mantle in his prime was unbelievable and with all five tools). (We all missed that the other NY center fielder, Willie Mays, proved in many ways better than both of them.)
So, I have no ill will for my friends the Yankee fans. They are entitled. It is only a game, fer Godzake. I say, just let the better team win.
You know. The team with 108 regular season victories.