This video will give you a pretty good idea of what my weekend was like.
Juuuuust kidding. Well, kind of.
My dad (a born and bred Yankees fan) and I drove into the city on Friday, checked into our hotel, and wandered around Central Park for awhile. The first person to comment on my Sox hat was a Jamaican street vendor. He came in peace, though, and he told me that there are more Sox fans in New York than Yankees fans. Uh. Really?
Later on, we headed into the Bronx for the first game of three that we would be seeing over the weekend. It was the second game of the Sox-Yankees series and the Sox had lost the first one the night before, thanks to the painful descent into oblivion of one John Smoltz.
First of all: Yankee Stadium. People, it’s a colosseum. Overwhelming, impressive, everything you’d expect. My friend Mary (a Yankees fan) said it best when she described it as Disney World. The jumbotron is longer than the distance from home base to first, and very well-designed. For every player that’s up, you get stats, random facts, game score, balls/strikes/outs, as well as pitch count, speed, and description. And of course, it’s ridiculously high-def. Very neat.
Friday night’s game was a blast. It was scoreless until the 15th inning and lasted five and a half hours. I know, I know, you have to really love baseball to enjoy a game like that. The pitching was phenomenal, and would continue to be, on both sides, throughout the weekend (aside from the occasional Boston relief guys). The Sox and Yankees had never before played a game that went scoreless past the 13th inning. My dad’s favorite player is Mariano Rivera, their badass closer. My dad had never seen him close before, so it was fun when he sauntered in to Enter Sandman by Metallica. Unfortunately, A-Rod was the one to finally crush the winning home run. It was a bummer to lose, but still a really fun game.
Saturday afternoon’s game: Scoreless for awhile, but then the Yanks pulled it out 5-0. Another game without so much as a run from the Sox. Very disappointing. Also, A-Rod threw himself in front of a pitch and then whined. Classy as always. Despite our loss, Buchholz pitched very well.
Sunday night’s game: That one was going to be ours! You can’t come from Boston to see your team get swept by its arch rivals, can you? Uh, can you? Turns out you can. Lester did well, and we finally got a run (our only two the whole weekend) thanks to Martinez, who is a nice addition to the team (despite the fact that his presence does somewhat threaten my beloved captain’s future with us). But it wasn’t enough. It was tough to leave that night, to a deafening chorus of BOSTON SUCKS. Well, we did. That weekend, we did. What can you say? The worst thing the Yankee fans did, in my opinion, was mock the “Yoooooouk” when our beloved first baseman (or third, or sometimes left fielder, hey why not?) got up to bat. Too far, New York, too far!
Other stuff: We met Manny Delcarmen (one of our relief pitchers, for those of you non-baseball types) and asked him if they can hear us cheering for them when they’re playing away, and their fans are a tiny fraction of the crowd. He said, “Yeah, we can, and that’s all we can hear.” Cool. We had a lot of fun conversations with very nice Yankees fans, among whom the consensus seems to be that the only black hole on their team is A-Rod. Agreed. (Well, I’d argue that Johnny Damon is another black hole, but that’s only because he left us. He’s a good player, though. I’m kinda over it.) Ate dinner at the very adorable Lily’s on Lexington, which was awesome despite the fact that my shrimp had a face (I had to remove the EYES, people). I got a free pity dessert from our waiter, who wanted to make sure it was red, in honor of my defeated team, so he added lots of strawberries. Got to meet up with Kate, Mary, and Terry for drinks. It’s important to have restorative time with friends when your team is losing, right? Did a three-hour boat cruise around the island which was interesting, but loooooong. All in all, New York was a blast. I missed the friends that I didn’t get a chance to see, and wish I had more time with Kate, but baseball weekends are quick. Two things I wish we could copy New York on exactly are their subway system and profusion of open air wine bars. Can we get on that, Beantown?
As far as my feelings toward the Yankees…they’re a great team. Let’s be honest, they’re not the dynasty they’d like to think they are, but they’re a great team. They were epic decades ago, and then up until 1995, they were pretty shitty, and they haven’t won a title since 2000. But that’s in the past, and a Sox fan is in no position to throw stones. Thanks to their pitching, they’re probably in their best form all decade. And with players like Jeter and Matsui, among others, they’re playing a lot of good, honest baseball, the kind Mickey Mantle would’ve been proud of. And anyway, what would we do without the Yankees? Play Toronto until we’re blue in the face? Kick the Twins all over the field? Tampa Bay has been playing great for a few years, but who wants to see them take home the rings? The Sox need a team that challenges them and raises the game to a new level, and the Yankees do just that. I hope that since 2004 the Sox have done the same for them.
One thing that kept cracking me up was the sheer drama of New York baseball. Throughout the games, they showed clips from Rocky, 300, and screaming coaches motivating their teams in sports movies. They played long video montage tributes to players and pitchers set to songs like Warrior by Pat Benatar. They had lots of silly between-innings games. They could use a little less payroll and little more soul, but that’s who they are. They’re rock stars. The Sox are very different, but then Boston is very different. New York is a big city and Boston is a small town. The Sox are the scrappy underdogs, playing in the most rundown but beloved ballpark you’d ever hope to watch a game in. The Sox are the Beach Boys and the Yankees are the Backstreet Boys, but I think those roles work for both cities. At the end of the day, as far as I’m concerned, they’re the only two teams in baseball. It was kind of a drag when the Yanks were out of the game so early last season. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see them win, but the fact that they’re back in fighting form makes this season, well, a whole new ball game.