yankees hater


Posted On June 22, 2019 at 12:48 pm by / Comments Off on GREAT BALLS OF IRE

BRONX, N.Y., October 12, 2004 ” I have seen Hell. It’s far worse than anyone in Boston could have imagined. Start doing good deeds, Red Sox Nation. Get out there as fast as you can and make like a reformed Ebeneezer Scrooge. This is not a place you want to be.

My journey started innocently enough. The day before Game One of the ALCS, I was on the receiving end of an unexpected sale offer: two $100 upper deck tickets at the reasonably-marked-up price of $400. A check of my brother’s availability preceded a quick acceptance of the tickets. And with this, we were set up to converge upon Yankee Stadium, home of the universe’s most evil team’he from his upstate New York post and me from my northern New Jersey location.

Like every other out-of-town soul, we agreed to meet at the gigantic Louisville Slugger bat outside of the park. Always a bad idea, and particularly so on this night. The media crawled all over the place, looking for sound bytes from the locals and Reverse the Curse rally cries from the few Sox fans on hand. I was approached by cameramen and reporters on two occasions (one crew from New York and the other from New Hampshire) as I waited for my tardy brother, for no other reason than I sported one of our Yankee Hater caps.

Eventually, John sauntered in and we made our way to the upper deck after properly arming ourselves with beverages by Bass and Pilsner Urquell. It was a comfortably crisp night, the type of evening that prompts the age-old sweatshirt versus jacket discussion. It was apparent from the start that we were marked men in our upper deck seats. It started with a guy behind us, who was yapping on his cell phone loud enough for us to hear. These dudes in front of us are wearing Yankees Hater caps he said to a distant listener. , can you believe that sh-t? In Yankee Stadium, no less.

Frankly, the cell-phone-guy’s discussion didn’t faze us one bit. John, after all, drew a NESN reporter and a full camera crew to his seat in the top row of the upper deck at Yankees Stadium during Boston’s first trip to New York this season. That live NESN interview spot, which came just days after Curt Schilling created a mania for our product by wearing the cap, remains as one of my most fond memories in our business’s young history. John can’t weigh but 140 pounds, and here he was among a sea of navy & gray, telling the Sox fans back in Boston why the Yankees so deserved the hate of a Nation.

While John may be brash, he’s not exactly a good luck charm when it comes to games at Yankee Stadium. The last time he was at a game in the Bronx, Jon Lieber held a no-hitter through the 7th inning as the Yankees built a 13-0 lead. Nonetheless, both of us were optimistic as the game began. Curt Schilling was on the hill, and he had been a difference-maker all season. Plus, he was our sentimental favorite among the Sox pitching staff for obvious reasons. The planets were properly aligned, we thought, for a Shut Up Party of immense proportions. There’s a classic NFL Apparel commercial where a bunch of Dolphin fans are watching a football game in a bar when the opposing Jets score a touchdown. The lone Jets fan jumps up and lets out an impeccably-timed whoop after the grumbling Miami fans have fallen silent. I’ve always wanted to be that Jets guy, and this was my chance.

It didn’t happen, as Schilling and the Sox fell behind 2-0 early. But then something occurred that would appear to reverse the course of the game. At least that’s the way it appeared at the time. Did you see that,I asked John. See what?Lofton just fouled a ball off his foot, and it rolled back to Jeter in the on-deck circle, I explained. Jeter went to toss it into the stands, and came up short! See, the ball-boy is running over to pick it up. Jeter doesn’t have it tonight. I see a key error coming. Dude, up top. Another beer? John asked, passing on the high five.

As it turns out, John’s instincts were correct. The Jeter short toss wasn’t a sign, but the repetitious pops from Jorge Posad’s glove”which could be heard from the upper deckwere a harbinger. A glove doesn’t pop on velocity alone. The ball needs to hit the leather flush, and this occurs with greater frequency when the catcher is barely moving his target. Mussina had it on this night, while the usually impenetrable Schilling—ailing from a damaged ankle”did not. Before long, the Sox were down 6-0. One of the Yankees fans rolled out a hand-painted CURT SHELLING banner and let it fly from the upper deck. Had Schilling looked up as he left the mound for a reliever, he couldn’t have helped but see it.

Just a short time later, the Yankees fans broke out their new favorite chant: Who’s your Dad-deee {clap, clap, clapclapclap}.Sure, this was really a chant more fitting for Pedro Martinez’s start on the following night. But the broader application of this jab to the Red Sox (and its fans) in general was orchestrated earlier in the week by MLB Properties, which approved the release of a t-shirt that read: Hey Red Sox Fans: Who’s Your Daddy? The shirt was adorned with a Yankees logo as well as a pacifier bearing the Red Sox’s classic logo. MLB Properties pulled the shirt roughly 24 hours after its release, after a statistically-insignificant number of thin-skinned Sox fans objected with the help of BostonDirtDogs.com. Fortunately, most of Red Sox Nation has more grit than was shown in this case. Running to the teacher just isn’t our way, is it?

Of course it isn’t. Which is why John and I remained in the Death Star’s upper tier as the Yankees lead expanded to 8-0. At that point, Mussina was pitching a flawless game. It was not difficult to find an adjective for the atmosphere at that moment. In a word: Hell. By the seventh inning, many of the New York fans were thinking , but would not say for fear of jinxing Mussina. John and I figured out why they were talking in code; it was like the times at the craps tables in Vegas when everyone abstained from saying during a hot roll of the dice. Instantly, we both knew what the situation demanded.

Hey, he’s got a perfect game going, doesn’t he?I exclaimed, as the Yankee drones around me looked over in shock and disgust. I shot a glance over to my brother who happened to have a few of our round YankeesHater decals on him—and nodded. Then, I left him to put an exclamation point on the only pleasing experience of the game to that point: Tag it! I said emphatically. With that, he slapped one of the decals on his seat for good luck. Not as crazy a move as you might expect: the first time we ever gave those decals out at Fenway Park, that day’s game featured the infamous A-Rod face sandwich a la Varitek, as well as Bill Mueller’s walk-off HR against Mariano Rivera.

That’s all it took. Mark Bellhorn”who always seems to be walking in one direction or another after an at-bat”cracked a ball into the gap and was off to the races, eventually stopping at second base. Suddenly, Mussina’s no-no was a no-go. Good times. What followed is somewhat of a blur. I can say this: by the time Metallica’™ Enter Sandman was playing and the same Rivera was walking to the mound with two outs in the eight inning, the Sox had cut the deficit to 8-7. And Sox slugger David Ortiz, who narrowly missed both a home run and a long fly out just moments before when the ball he hit careened off Hideki Matsui’s glove and into the outfield wallwas standing on third base.

This time, however, Rivera was Rivera. It didn’t matter that he had flown in from Panama hours earlier after attending a funeral for two his wife’s relatives who had tragically perished at his home. It didn’t matter that the Yankees were in the depths of a colossal choke, and about to blow a game that might forever make the list of Red Sox fan favorites. And it didn’t matter than there was a round YH decal on my brother’s seat. This time, no matter much we wished otherwise, Hell was inescapable.

The game ultimately ended in a most severe way: with a double play that started with a ground ball fielded by Rivera. We were left to wonder if it would have better if the Sox had simply never bothered to rally. This game was pure torment, except for that brief period of time when the score was 8-7 and the Yankee fans became edgy and silent. As one of my friends Yankees fan said smugly afterwards:This game reminded me of the division race. New York builds a big lead. The Sox rally to get close, but fall short when it really matters. I almost told him to go to Hell. But I was in no mood to let him in.