AUG. 29, 2005 — The stench of happy Yankee fans has returned to the New York metropolitan area. Dramatic wins and a dwindling Sox lead mean the New York fans can wear their baseball caps again. Fitting behavior as the Northeast moves into its fair weather season.
There’s only problem: the psychology of the choke always lasts several years.
The Red Sox organization did not quickly rebound from its improbable loss in the “Buckner” World Series. Scott Norwood was never the same after he missed the kick that would have won the Super Bowl for the Bills. Search the internet for “sports’ massive collapses”, and you’ll see that immediate redemption is never in the cards. Teams do not go from gutless to glorious in one year. And the Yankees and the fans that support them–will be no exception.
Sure, the Yankees will have ample opportunity to turn the tables on the Sox. There’s a three-game series in the Bronx scheduled for September 9-11, and another three-game series at Fenway slated for September 30 through October 2. Most likely result: Yankees move into first place in September, and then blow the lead and the wild card in October. Another Pinstripe Heimlich Maneuever.
Can it really happen any other way? The Yankees lack any real heroes of their own. A-Rod is great at hitting solo home runs when his team is up by eight runs, but can he really deliver in the clutch the way that David Ortiz can? Hideki Matsui was stellar in the first three games of the 2004 ALS. Then Pedro whistled a fast ball under his nose and his stats deflated quicker than a Yankee fan at Game 7 of the ALCS. The pitching staff is spotty, the lineup is both old and slow, and the management has been looking over its shoulders all season. Miracles can happen, but inspiration is usually a key ingredient. The look in Torre’s eyes appears more like aggravation.
The good news? We will all be able to watch the demise of the Yankees unfold, the way that it did in the 2004 ALS and the 2003 World Series. The New York tabloids will write pleasing headlines to sum up each day’s foibles. Yankee fans will mutter at work in the morning, and overuse the “86 years” line as Sox fans revel in the Bombers backwardness. Dick Vitale will back-peddle from his inane theory that the Sox lock up when they see those pinstripes (baby!). Life will be sweet. And the air will smell much, much better.
INSIDE THE MIND OF THE YANKEE FAN: The Yankees are playing well again, which should pull their fans from the ledge for at least a short while. Frankly, someone needs to make those damn ledges shorter.
Recently, we had a chance to peek at a series of e-mail strings written by a band of hard-core NYY fans. This was not chatroom banter, but rather an intimate back-and-forth among long-time friends who are not afraid to bare their souls to one another. Though we hope this band of Yankee-lovers will again go away disappointed at season’s end, their amazingly-honest exchanges made great reading. So, we have “negotiated” with them to post their remarks here. We had to agree that we would not ridicule their remarks (honestly, we agreed to this). Furthermore, we agreed to continue to post their remarks even in good times (what made the initial string of e-mails so gratifying to us was the pain that the group was obviously feeling as the Yanks continued to underperform). Again, we agreed.
We will post this exchange in the “Mailbag” section of the site; it will be called the “Pinstripe Roundtable.” We welcome well-thought-out responses to their remarks (we don’t care what team you root for; if your take is entertaining and insightful, we will post it).
Is it unorthodox to publish the comments of Yankee fans on this site? Absolutely. But we like the unpredictability of it. Plus, we envision Jeter playing golf by early October. We hope everyone enjoys what’s coming…
ROYAL FLUSH: The re-energized KC Royals flushed the Yankees for a third straight time this week, creating immense joy in YH land. Meanwhile, Sox fans were treated to yet another walk-off HR by David Ortiz. Life is good in Boston. And in all of those other places where the Nation presides.
CAP SIGHTING: Last night’s (6/1/05) telecast of the Sox/Orioles game by ESPN featured a YH cap sighting and reference. ESPN’s cameras fixed on two young fans enjoying ice cream at the game. One of the girls was wearing one of our authentic “YH Horns” caps. The commentators correctly identified the cap as “not a Yankee cap, but rather a Yankee Hater cap” and opined that being a Sox fan is synonymous with being a Yankee Hater. Thanks for the exposure, ESPN!
HAPPY RETURNS (Part II) [Note: This is a continuation of HAPPY RETURNS, Part I, which appears below]
BOSTON, MA, APRIL 16, 2005: You can’t always get what you want. Mick Jagger says so. And since he’s roll-n-roll’s version of the Pope, his logic must be infallible.
But Mick sliced the issue a little too thin, as figureheads are prone to doing. The real challenge to “wanting” is determining the end result that will evolve from the thing that is seemingly desired. At the time, every Sox fan wanted (needed?)a Boston win in Game 3 of the ALCS. But, looking back, not one of these same souls would change the result of that game. As it turns out, you don’t always need what you want.
But after too much deep thought, I decided that what I wanted (needed?) on this day was a cold drink. About a half-hour later, my friend Pete and I were watching the pedestrian traffic on Newbury Street stroll by. We broke up the experience with sips of Japanese beer and healthy portions of Thai food. Bargoers call the consumption of food “laying a base.” And when you have six hours to kill before Fenway Franks and Budweiser, you damn well better adhere to tavern axioms in order to stay afloat.
Darting around Boston wouldn’t be complete without a stop to Champions Sports Bar in the Boston Marriott Copley Square. This was the first place that allowed us to promote our YH caps within its confines last year. To this day, it is one of the only places in Boston where you can buy authentic YankeesHater.com gear. We crushed a drink there, talked to the staff some, and then hit the streets again. This whole “killin’ time” thing was really starting to have a liberating feel to it.
We eventually meandered back to Fenway Park, and decided to hit the new on-premises bar, Game On!. We were initially disappointed when the doorman instructed us to head downstairs to the basement level. How many times has a basement bar been dark, damp and dreary? But, again, you don’t always have the ability to know what you truly want. This particular basement is high-tech, hip and bustling. The bar is underlit in Red Sox red, and an array of flat-screen TVs are mounted on steel piping architecture. The collection of colorful liquor bottles in the center of the bar is accentuated with a shower of North-sent, beaming light. In a word: cool. You can order beer here, but cocktails seemed more appropriate. With plenty of Bud waiting inside Fenway’s gates, a vodka club soda got the nod. Bargoers call the mixing of beer and liquor “a bad idea.” But what the hell do they know? They sit in bars all day long. Down the hatch.
It wasn’t long before we were inside Fenway Park, watching the Rays and Sox with Fenway Franks in hand. A lot has changed since my last trip here. Some things never will. Our seats in right field gave us a clear view of Pesky’s Pole. But we also had a pretty good view of the bleachers where, later in the game, the crowd literally ran a Yankees-cap-wearing fan out of the house. Can’t provide the details, because I don’t know them, but the scenario ended with the Yanks fan being escorted out by security amid a “Yankees Suck” chant. Regarding the chant, the middle-aged woman to my right said, “I hate that. We won the World Series, and we still have an inferiority complex.” Definitely not the right time for me to say, “Hi, I’m Mike, CEO of YankeesHater.com. Damn glad to meet you.” Wanted to. Was tempted to. Didn’t.
And it wasn’t just the fans who were in the anti-Yankees spirit. The only MLB highlight shown on the Diamondvision all night was a game-losing HR served up by Yankees reliever Tom Gordon against the Orioles. When the footage stopped, the following text appeared: “The Yankees’ current 4-7 record represents their worst start since 1991.” The crowd cheered mightily. Chalk one up for the house.
The details of the game are forgotten now, but the Sox did beat the Devil Rays that night. The crowd left happy, and Pete later said that Fenway Park had rekindled his interest in baseball again. “Why?”, I asked. “The city is so completely behind this team,” Pete said. “and going to Fenway is like a throw-back experience. For the most part, it’s all about the baseball team and its fans. Very different from Yankee Stadium, with its corporate atmosphere and all of the advertising distractions.” In my mind, I applauded Pete for his observation and for serving it up in an anti-Yankees bun. For both of us, going back to Fenway Park was exactly what we needed. And on a sunny spring day in Boston, who could want more than that?