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June 21 2000: Tough Night At Fenway For The Yanks AND Me

season2000Man, Red Sox fans can be obnoxious. I always thought it would be worse for Yankee fans if the Sox lost. But no, the average Sox fan greets a humiliating loss like Monday’s 22-1 rout, or the surprising three-home-run wallop of Pedro yesterday, with a kind of morose resignation. It takes all the energy right out of them.
But when they win, boy does it get tough to be a Yankee fan.

Tonight’s game we lost 9-7, due to an inexplicable implosion of the bullpen in the seventh, when Jason Grimsley walked three men (one intentionally) to load the bases, and then Mike Stanton walked two more across the plate. Bernie hit a two run homer with two out in the ninth, but it wasn’t enough to tie the game. (One news report had Pedro Martinez standing at the top of the dugout steps making a “hex” sign with his arms and fingers when Grims and Stanton were pitching…)

We were fairly well-razzed on Monday as we rode the T to the game and walked to the park. But today, people actually came up to us in the subway and asked us if we were from New York. When they found out we lived here, they demanded to know why we didn’t root for the Sox. When I told one guy I was born in New York, he demanded to know why I didn’t root for the Mets. I told him my father was a Yankee fan, and so was I. He then went on a little monologue about how certain teams like the Mets and Sox (i.e. losing teams, though he didn’t use the word ‘loser’) have character. “And if a human being doesn’t have character, he has nothing,” he concluded.

“Yeah, you’ve got some characters on the team, all right,” I said as he walked away.

When we arrived at the park, the Yankees were taking BP, and we stood at the wall with a bunch of other Yankee fans, watching Spencer sail ball after ball over the Green Monster. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to do it in the game tonight. It wasn’t a good night for autographs, either. Even old reliable Derek Jeter was in the second to last BP group, and then went in to the field before being called in to the clubhouse with the rest of the team. Still, it was nice to stand with New York fans, and chat about the players and the Leyritz trade (Jimmy got sent to Los Angeles today in trade for a utility infielder named Vizcaino…)

It was pretty much the last time we’d see a friendly face the whole night. Our entire section was Red Sox fans, mostly old white guys (come to think of it, the crowd at Fenway is almost 100% white on nights when Pedro doesn’t pitch–I counted four black men in the crowd and they were all wearing Yankees regalia…), the loud obnoxious kind.

What is it these people have against Paul O’Neill? Every time he came to bat they’d be like “Oh, I hate this guy” and shouting at him “Hey, O’Neill, crybaby, wah wah wah! And you’re ugly, too!” (Word for word quote, I am not making this up.) And when Derek fouled a ball off his knee and hit the dirt in pain, someone yelled “Awwww, Poor Jeter twisted his widdle ankle!” Jeez, people. If Nomar went down in a game at Yankee Stadium, you better believe we’d cheer when he got back on his feet. In all fairness, a lot of people did cheer when Jeter got back up.

I think people feel they can pick on me because I’m a woman, and I’m only 5’4″ tall. And the win makes them bolder. Seven year old kids were giving us the thumbs down every time they walked past us during the game. But after the game, as we sat there waiting for some friends to find us, total strangers would come up to me, push my hat down over my eyes, and with big-shit eating grins on their faces, say “You lost.” One asked me if I had a pair of scissors so he could cut my ponytail off? (Shrug?? Would that be like the Indians scalping? I didn’t get it either.)

Would I have left my cap and shirt at home? No way. If the Yankees can take the abuse, so can I. But I was pretty tired of the treatment by the time we got out of there. I just smiled and took it. What am I going to do, start a fight? Deck one of these guys? I’ve been studying tae kwon do for fourteen years, and yes, I could do it. He wouldn’t even know what hit him. But that’s just not right. They’re just bitter from so many heartbreaking losses–I pity them, really. Let them savor this one win.

Because after all, the best revenge comes, as it has so many times, in October.

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