and yes, i'm aware that they both suck.
It was a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon in early September. The sun blazed upon the left field bleachers at Yankee Stadium. The Stadium was filled.
"1918" was chanted repeatedly by a vast majority of fans. They had been shouting that year all day, every day this year, every year, for now their 83rd consecutive year. Specifically to aggravate the visiting Red Sox fans from Boston, 4 hours away. It was the last time the Red Sox had won World Series. Most fans believed it was the Curse of the Bambino. And the Yankee fans let them know that.
"Go home!” one fan shouted. Yankee fans generally are not happy when Bostonians go 215 miles out of their way to attempt to crash the bleacher party. This time, there were swarms of Red Sox shirts around. They were the underdogs, and there were swarms of their fans. Yankee fans had to make sure they were squashed. They were not invited here. Nobody had invited them.
I was surrounded. Sox fans were behind me, to the left of me, and in front of me. The aisle was to the right of me, making it so easy to aggravate Boston fans walking up and down the aisle. I did everything from getting up and stretching, exposing my 'Boston Dead Sox' shirt. I opened up that day's Newsday to the MLB standings, asking Bostonians to read the American League East standings to me, claiming that I was a 'dumb Yankee fan' and that I couldn't read, just to remind them who had sole possession of first place by 11 games.
I had wanted to go to the right field bleachers. Left field was not fun. Right field was where all the excitement was, where I had made friends with other roommates of The House That Ruth Built. I went there frequently, about 3 or 4 times a month. I only bought right field seats, but this time, right field was sold out, and all that was left in the bleachers was left field. I called it The Cemetery, as all the dead fans went there. The left field losers knew my face. I would pick on them frequently from right field. I was in enemy territory. But we had a much bigger, more dangerous (ok, maybe not dangerous), more hated enemy to taunt. They were the Red Sox and their pathetic fans from Boston.
The game had started 20 minutes behind schedule for whatever reason. When the game finally did get underway, the crowd gave a warm round of applause to Mike Mussina. Mike Mussina of the Yankees was pitching against David Cone, a former Yankee. They had pitched against each other that previous Sunday night in Boston. Mike Mussina was just 1 strike away from a perfect game, “Baseball Immortality”, as Yankee radio announcer John Sterling called it. David Cone had pitched a perfect game just over 2 years before that as a member of the Yankees. David Cone had also pitched very well that night; But Mike Mussina was just about perfect.
A “lets go Red Sox” cheer had started to erupt. That cheer had to be demolished immediately. A “lets go Yankees” cheer had started to take over that pandemonium. A “1918” cheer started again.
Towards the 8th inning, the Boston fans started to leave. After all, their team was down by 8 runs in the 8th inning with 2 of the best bullpen pitchers in the league, Mike Stanton and Mariano Rivera. As the poignant groups left, the Yankee fans would cheer. By the bottom of the 9th, there were about a handful of Sox groups left. By the time the Red Sox had officially lost, the remaining fans were holding their ears, attempting to block out the cheers and brags of the Yankee fans, as well as Frank Sinatra's classic, “New York, New York”, traditionally played at Yankee Stadium every time the Yankees won, which was a lot. I started to ask random Bostonians “What's the name of this song, 'Boston, Boston', or is it 'New York, New York'?”
I had left Yankee Stadium to find many more Yankee fans walking around in smiles. As we made our way back to the parking lot, there were many street vendors trying to sell us cheap shirts and hats. Many had said “Boston Dead Sox” and “Boston Sucks”. A lone Sox fan replied to the shirt saying “No we don't.” Followed by a quick “Yeah we do.” The constant Boston accents of “Hurry up I wanna get to the cah in the pahking lot” was starting to irritate me.
As we pulled out of the parking lot, we had gone home with smiles on our faces, and laughing inside. Smiling that the Yankees were now 12 games up on Boston with just 20 games left. Laughing at the pathetic little Red Sox fans and their slumping team. Smiling because we knew we had the better team in the biggest rivalry in baseball.
"Ahh come on already!" shouted Rich, a 28 year-old fisherman from Boston.
Bottom of the 9th, 2 outs, Boston trailing Baltimore by 1. For Boston, losing this game will all but eliminate them from whatever chance at the playoffs they had.
But it's not about not making the playoffs for Boston. It's about not letting their number one rivals, the New York Yankees run away with the AL East title. It's about not letting the Yankees be better than them. "As a Sox fan, I'm used to... not making the playoffs. So if we don't make the playoffs it's not a big deal. It's the fact that the Yankees finished better than us is what the big deal is. It's heartbreaking," says Phil, as die-hard a Red Sox fan as they get. "I'm no Sox fan, but I often wonder why they get so upset about losing to the Yankees. I also don't get why they get so excited when the Yankees lose to someone else. It's not the Sox that won it for them", says Brave fan Zoe of Boston fans. "But then again that's easy for me to say. Their team's been losing for the past 83 years. They just want 1 year when they can say 'we're better than the Yankees'", she continues.
"Nineteen-eighteen" was shouted repeatedly by a large majority of fans that Saturday afternoon of early September at the Stadium. It had been the last year the BoSox had won the World Series. The arrogant Yankee fans had to remind the Sox fans, who had flocked from Boston, 3 states, 4 hours, and 215 miles away. "I don't know why they come this far to see them. I know we go to Fenway too, but I'd be embarrassed coming here if I were one of them", says Joe, an avid Yankee fan. He smiles and adds, "I think they come here to see us." Boston fans came to New York whenever the Sox come to play the Yankees, a tradition going back years and years. Some even come to New York when they play the Mets in interleague play, even though there isn't much particular tension between the Mets and Sox.
As they left The Stadium that late afternoon, 17 year-old Yankee fan P.J. laughed and said to her friend of the BoSox fans, "They're crazy, man. Too crazy."
In 1920, the Sox had sold pitcher George Herman Ruth, or "Babe", also known as the Bambino, to the Yankees. Ruth then became what was (and still sometimes is) considered the greatest home run hitter to ever play the game.
80 years later, the Red Sox never won a World Series. The Yankees have won 26. The Yankees have celebrated unmeasured amounts of charisma. As for Boston, they've suffered many heartbreaks since, such as the Bucky Dent home run in 1978, and Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. And that is the Curse of the Bambino. "What? Cursed? Get out of here with that. We're not cursed; we just have been hit with bad luck", says Phil of this alleged Curse of the Bambino. Despite numerous attempts to "reverse the curse", as Bostonians call it, even going to extremes such as climbing Mount Everest, they've only appeared to be more and more cursed. Or "hit with bad luck", in Phil's words.
"There's no doubt that these teams hate each other. There's no doubt that the Red Sox are the Yankees' rivals. But as far as the Sox go, to call the Yankees their 'rivals' is a major understatement. They more than hate the Yankees. They're more than jealous of the Yankees. Fenway Park is green from the jealousy of the whole city of Boston has of the Yankees. The Yankees have it all. 26 times over." says Zoe.
No matter how you put it, they're rivals. Baseball rivalries have came and gone throughout the years, but no rivalry still standing compares to the hatred between the Sox and Yanks. The Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees. Both franchises turned around 180-degrees that very year and have not turned around since.