Living in a House Divided

 

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Here we are once again, folks. Round 2 of the Red Sox and Yankees rivalry 2014 version. It’s a topic that has been discussed, blogged, and written about for decades yet up until right now I’ve never given my two cents on it. Being that it’s tax season and the IRS once again took about all the money I had in my savings account, I’m lucky to have two cents to give you.

But I do, so you’ll listen. I hate the Red Sox. I hate their players, I hate their stadium, and I despise their fans. These guys are serious jerks. Philly fans are awful, don’t get me wrong, but Red Sox fans… ugh. You see the problem with Red Sox fans is that they have tunnel vision. Nothing is better than the Red Sox and nothing else exists. The Red Sox could finish 32-130 and the Chicago Cubs could go 162-0 and break their World Series curse, and a Red Sox fan would have no idea that it was happening. All they would know is that they finished 100 games under .500 and somehow it would be the Yankees fault. Me, as a Yankee fan, sure I want to see the Red Sox go 0-162, but there are plenty of other teams I loathe. The Mets — screw ’em. The Rays -we can’t beat these bastards. They literally own the Yankees and they aren’t even that great a team. Stay focused, Wayniac… we are talking about Red Sox fans.

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I met Golden in 1997. He was a diehard Sox fan from Boston and he quickly became part of my close knit group of friends at University of Delaware. He, however, was unique. He knew everything, I mean everything, about baseball. He actually used the word “respect” when discussing Yankees/Red Sox history. I am still in a fantasy league with Golden 17 years later and I can tell you he was the first Red Sox fan I could talk shop with in my life and would dare call a friend. (I know you’re reading this @bosoxforever, but we went to high school together in New Jersey. @bosoxforever never gloated about the Red Sox, and no one really believed that someone in our high school could actually be a Red Sox fan with how close we lived to Yankee Stadium. So even though we still talk 25 years later, he’s a high school friend, not a Red Sox fan).

Then I moved to Atlanta in 2002 and these guys were everywhere. I mean they were like a virus, infesting every sports bar inside the perimeter. This was when the Sox were getting good and priming up for their current run that has them as the reigning World Champs for the third time in a decade. I was working at Jocks and Jills when I met Orlando and Evan.

These guys were Boston. I don’t mean they lived near Boston and were from the city. I mean these guys pahked their cah in the pahking lot when they came to work. They liked American beer and reeked of baked beans. They didn’t just like the game of baseball, they more importantly knew baseball, and we clicked. I watched Boone go yard standing right next to Orlando. It was glorious: We were at Jocks and Jills watching because both of us had the night off. Boone cranked that pitch and Orlando threw his beer bottle across the bar (through the air not giving a crap who or what he hit, mind you) as soon as Boone made contact. I took a running leap onto Bob’s back, a fellow Yankee fan who happened to be working and had a tray full of drinks in his hands. To this day, I’m not sure what was more amazing, Boone’s home run or Bob’s tray balancing skills. A year later, Orlando sat right next to me during Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS. I stormed out of Benchwarmers because I, to this day, firmly believe if I didn’t see it happen, then it never did. You know, it’s just like Carl Everett’s take on dinosaurs: if Carl Everett never saw a dinosaur, then there must have never been any. These two guys taught me all Sox fans aren’t terrible. Most are, but some pass the test. Orlando and I will always have that tie of where we were when two of the most monumental events in the oldest rivalry in pro sports went down and that forms a kinship, friend or foe. I could sit down with either of them right now and talk shop. Sure, we would rip each other apart and it would get heated, but Yankees and Red Sox debates are not for the faint of heart.

Almost two years ago, I met the love of my life and she was perfect in every way… well, almost. She loves sports, which I think is damn sexy, but she is from New Hampshire. She is a Red Sox fan and it is miserable. Not only did I have to endure a playoff-less 2013 with her as my girlfriend, the Sox had to go and win the freaking title. It was brutal, and because of it, there is now a picture of Fenway Park hanging on the wall of our place. That is just sickening and I am ashamed to admit to it but alas, ’tis true.

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Her father is one of the biggest blow hard, Yankee haters I know. I had to sit there and watch the Sox win Game One of the 2013 World Series next to him. I have literally stormed out of the room because he is one of those Sox fans who honestly believe Derek Jeter sucks and is overrated. I mean, come on. I hate, HATE, HATEDavid Ortiz. I want him to eat so many cheeseburgers he puts on that 400 pounds that he lost and can never play again. But, if he were to sign with the Yankees tomorrow, I say put him in pinstripes and let him bat third. If he brought the Yankees a title like Johnny Damon did, he would soon become likable.

As it turns out, he gets more of a kick out of pushing my buttons than he cares about my Yankee allegiance. Once I realized that he was riling me up on purpose to get a laugh, we got along fine and I can watch games and talk smack with him now. It’s actually comical how worked up he gets over the Red Sox. If a guy flies out with a runner on first he’s a “loser”. If he hits a home run on the next at bat, he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread. Now, we even talk smack long distance. This is what I got from him the other day:

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It doesn’t matter how much you like someone or accept who they are, when it comes to Red Sox and Yankee fans, on game day… it’s war.

So, I had to fight and get around it. Some people don’t understand how hard it is. Some people are like, it’s sports, it shouldn’t effect reality. But it’s more than that. It’s passion, it’s memories, it’s riding the lows to get to the ultimate high. You ever hear of ecstasy? Cocaine? None of those compare to the euphoric feeling that one of my teams winning a title gives me. I get so pumped. Back when I was a Northerner, when the Yankees won a title and hundreds of strangers were in a bar or in the streets or anywhere, we ran around hugging or high-fiving everybody until you got home. That’s an experience I can never have with my girlfriend. She wouldn’t even say congratulations if the Yankees won, and she didn’t get mad at me when I refused her fist pump after the Red Sox did. That’s the way it’s going to be and we are ok with it.

My editor, who is more of a Phillies’ fan sent a text to me while reading over this. He posed a great question. What makes Yankee fans so perfect? If you ask me, you both suck. I get it. Yankee fans have a swagger because of all those trophies we have. We Yankee fans wear those trophies as badge of honor.

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Swagger? Varrass asked dumbfounded. It’s kind of lame, no? You’re like the popular high school kid who peaked his senior year. You live off your past achievements. No matter how bad you do, a Yankee fan always brings up the rings. And if you didn’t notice, the Red Sox have more than you do over the last 10 years.

Holy crap… am I Al Bundy?

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Are Yankee fans the reason behind the Red Sox fans’ bitterness? Did the arrogance we call swagger divide two cities because of baseball? This bothered me, because until right there, I never thought a Yankee fan to be at fault. I thought about all those people who wear the NY on their head because the Yankees are the best and they don’t know a single player on the roster. I think about those fans who desecrate the logo in camouflage or pink or any other stupid color and then I start getting mad at my own. Then I thought about last season.

Don't you shake that hand, Mo... it's a trap... (Credit: Boston Globe)
Don’t you shake that hand, Mo… it’s a trap…
(Credit: Boston Globe)

The Red Sox team and fan base gave The Sandman the warmest sendoff of all the teams on his Farewell Tour last season. Red Sox fans actually stood and applauded for the man who gave them trouble for nearly two decades. They were genuinely cheering the retirement of one of their greatest enemies of all time. I wondered if there was a single Red Sox in all my life that I would have ever felt that way for and the answer is no. Is Varrass right? Are Yankee fans really the scourge of the earth? Are Red Sox fans… nice?

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Who the hell cares if we are? I will continue to prejudge anyone in a Red Sox hat as a Masshole and they will continue to hate me for being a Yankee fan. Through that hatred, the greatest love is born. The Red Sox Yankees rivalry transcends baseball. It’s life. And I wouldn’t live mine any other way!

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