As a passionate Yankee fan, born and bred in and around New York City, I’ve always been keenly aware of what goes on up north in Boston with the Red Sox. Although plenty of Yankee fans conveniently enjoy the rivalry, few ever seem to be overly concerned or bothered by the Sox. At least not in New York City; Conneticut is another story. But from what I have observed, New Yorkers, or should I say, Yankee fans, feel ostensibly indifferent or smugly superior to the plight of the Red Sox. Perhaps that’s because New Yorkers’ take a back seat to nobody when it comes to self-absorption, although Red Sox Nation isn’t far behind. Mostly, it’s due to the Yankees utter dominance over Boston.
Interestingly, the most uncomplicated and cheerful Sox supporters I’ve encountered are the many Latino’s (especially Dominicans) who don Red Sox caps and jerseys throughout the city, especially uptown where I happen to live. Their interest revolves around the fortunes of Prince Pedro and homeboy Manny Ramirez, of course. (What happened to all that Tribe gear that used to be so prominent a few years ago?) They pay no heed at all to history, and confidently predict the demise of the hometown Yankees. Of course, they are relative newcomers to Red Sox Nation, so they must be forgiven for their optimism.
Me? I’m constantly worried about the Sox, in spite of their history. Why gloat about 1918? Their streak of futility is bound to end sometime, right? (Silence…) All things come to an end, right?
That’s the way I see it anyhow. I was too young to truly remember the Bronx Zoo championships of the late 70′s and just old enough to have cried my eyes out for days when the Dodgers beat the Yanks in 81 (I was 10). Rooting for the Yankees in the 80′s was trying to say the least. The Mets were the toast of the town, while the Yanks were repeatedly satogaged by the egomanical sadist from Cleveland. Not to mention the fact that everyone else in the baseball universe was rather pleased that Steinbrenner was tearing the once-proud franchise down from the inside out. Growing up in the 80′s rooting for the Yankees was a masochistic endeavor for sure (forget the Jets and the wack-ass Knicks).
I’ve always been more inclined to masochism than sadism myself, and that’s probably what makes the Red Sox appealing on a certain level. Of course, once the season begins I revert to adolescent histrionics, professing nothing but hatred and contempt for the Sox, like any self-respecting Yankee fan who was raised the days of Butch Hobson, Craig Nettles, Fisk and Munson, etc. I’ve got a couple of guys who bust my chops about it. They call me a closet Red Sox fan. (I’ve read a few excellent books on the Sox this summer, which I will get to at some point this winter.)
I wouldn’t go that far, but I will say that I worry about the day when the Sox finally beat the Yanks in a big spot. Sure. Who wouldn’t? A dumb ass Yankee fan, you say? Well, I couldn’t agree more. It’s the casual, over-confident bozo’s who make up a large section of the Yankees fan base that give the rest of us normal, superstitious and neurotic diehards a bad name. The other shoe has to drop eventually doesn’t it? The current Yankee run has to come to an end at some point, right? My thinking is that if I can imagine the worst case scenerio at least I won’t be caught off guard when it happens (maybe I am a Sox fan at heart).
All of this lead me to breath a deep sigh of relief this morning when I read that Oakland’s golden boy Billy Beane rejected a lucrative deal to become the GM of the Sox last night. Peter Gammons reports that Beane agreed to a deal only to drop out at the 11th hour sighting concerns about being away from his family on the west coast. Beane’s arrival in Boston would have added some heat to the Yankee-Sox wars, and I’m sure it would have made it all the more exciting. But I’ll be frank: I’m a coward. I’d rather sleep at night instead of wringing my hands worried about Boston (I do enough of that anyway). Bill James is one thing—an appealing novelty. Billy Beane would have been outright uncomfortable. I don’t know if he’s as good as his reputation, but I sure am glad we don’t have to find out the hard way.