By Greg O'Brien, Codfish Press
I watched Friday night with typical horror, in full sports Tourette's, from the safety of my living room in Brewster, a short jog from Cape Cod Bay, as the Yankees hit the Red Sox upside the head in the American League East division race—a hunt Boston sportswriters declared was over two months ago when the Bombers were firing blanks. Someone apparently forgot to take the gun away.
Made me realize again that September is the longest month of the year, and that in spite of all appearances—a kinder, gentler chemistry this year between Boston and New Yuk—life could get ugly six weeks before Halloween. And if one night last summer is any indication, best to duck. I'm still staggered from the experience, and I didn't have a beer all night.
I returned a year ago last July to the belly of the beast, the house that brute built, and my daughter, Colleen, and I caught a school of index fingers and a boatload of obscenities. A cross between Kevin Costner’s Waterworld and Planet Of the Apes: The Forbidden Zone, Yankee Stadium—to Red Sox fans proudly displaying the second letter of the alphabet—is a place where civilization is in retreat. The dialect here is limited mostly to four letter words, and the primates, a blended mix of humanity, bathe in frothing cups of Bud.
I scored tickets to what Yankee observers now call one of the greatest regular season games in pinstripe legend, a sentence akin to death by stoning. Having been raised in New York twenty minutes outside the Bronx and once a Yankee fan before Steinbrenner took over the planet, I wanted to treat my 18-year-old daughter to the New York experience. Instead we got the New York attitude. While stars like Jeter and A-Rod have the passion of champions, often missing at Fenway, Yankee fans make Beantowners look like a boatload of nuns. New Yorkers love to talk with their hands, and when Red Sox supporters are around, they use the single digit.
We were treated to a pre-game show at Stan’s, a local hangout on River Avenue just outside the stadium. Like Ellis Island, it is a gathering of Italian and Irish immigrants about to be admitted to the land of the free and the brave. Refusing to take off our hats, we thought we’d be safe, but within seconds we were confronted with a rush of sweaty egos. “You lost?” said a man in a muscle shirt with a waist the size of the tires on my Jeep.
“Love to stay,” I said, “but gotta go. See you in October.”
Once inside the stadium, we were herded to Monument Park, an in-your-face reminder for a Sox fan—a wake of sorts—of opportunities lost and ghosts of the past. Headstones aside, Yankee Stadium is sterile, a morgue of a ballpark compared to Fenway—a shadow of the elegant facades of the Mantle and Maris era.
Thirteen innings is a long time to sit in a funeral home, wondering when they will shut the casket. Faceless John Flaherty’s pinch-hit single told us it was time to go.
On the way out, thousands of Yankee fans, dragging their knuckles up the elevated subway and yelling down at a few Fenway faithful through the metal bars, chanted in a haunting tone: “Bos-ton Su*ks…Bos-ton Su*ks!”
As Jeter once said, if you stick around here long enough, sooner or later the ghosts will rise.
Let's hope this October they are sleeping with the fishes!