October 24, 2000

The World Series: One New Yorker's Thoughts

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As I walked down Jerome Avenue, near 161st Street and Yankee Stadium at 1:30 in the morning, I must have smacked hands with twenty or thirty Yankee fans, aging from 7 to 90. It was an amazing feeling, because I know New York, and I love it.

But perhaps you don’t.

To address the thoughts of some other Sun columnists and other non-New York readers, let me briefly explain why this subway series is so great. I won’t talk about odds, or statistics, or even the past behind these two teams. This series isn’t about baseball, it’s about the people of New York.

Yes, I sat in the third row in the left field tier box Saturday night, wearing a no name Yankee jersey. I sat next to my father, and two guys from the Bronx that either just got out of prison, and were victims of alcohol withdrawal or were relatives of Mr. Miller G. Draft and sons.

But unfortunately for the two loud mouth Mets’ fans occupying row A of the upper deck, my two best friends were perfectly willing to buy more beer after accidentally spilling some of the watered down sparkling alcohol on top of the row A blue and orange heads seated down front. The parolees also expressed a desire to toss the Mets’ fans over the third deck, but of course, they would be nice about it.

But ignore the New York fun, ignore what you might call violence, ’cause it isn’t that at all. Okay, so three NYPD men in blue stand at every staircase and every entrance. And so what if hundreds of them in riot gear storm the field after the Yankees win to ensure stability? I’m not disputing that New York City has problems. But the loudness of 56,000 fans in a stadium filled with New Yorkers is an experience you can only imagine if you’ve never been.

It’s 56,000 fans producing a loud, jumble of words, not distinct, only the mix of “Let’s Go,” “Yankees,” “Mets,” and let’s not forget that lovable word “SUCK!”

True, it’s unfair that a large percent of those fans are special guests of people that know people that know people that know that big, loveable purple dinosaur, aka Yankee principal owner George Steinbrenner. And yet, I know that most of those fans are still New Yorkers — and those that aren’t are silent in Yankee Stadium. They don’t have the will to speak, to make a sound … cause they just don’t understand.

I didn’t stay at Yankee Stadium for five hours Saturday night because of the score … well, of course that was part of it. But I stayed mainly because 50,000 other fans stayed, stayed to hear the rumble of a 100-year old stadium, everyone rooting for one place.

Okay, so in about the 7th inning, I did get up to go to the bathroom. And let me tell you, that if you are not a Yankee fan at Yankee Stadium, under no circumstances should you go to the bathroom. Bring a cup, for God’s sake, just do not go into the bathroom.

No, it isn’t wrong that Yankee Stadium isolates other fans. It’s wrong that people think they can come in our house, and root for another team! Babe Ruth built that house so that Yankee fans could cheer for the Yankees, not so that some 1960s New York wannabees can waltz in and take the New York Yankees’ treasured trophy.

A Sun staff writer wrote last week that “baseball should be a staple of every American’s upbringing … pastimes should not cause family strife.” Hey, guess what? If my dad was a Mets fan, I wouldn’t have talked to him in the last week and a half. I love him, he knows that. But this is serious — this is New York baseball.

You can disagree with me. You can say family is more important than baseball. Well of course it is, but you’ve never been to a New York Yankees World Series game where the opposing team is the New York Mets. You don’t know the noise, you don’t know the pain, you don’t know the inevitable fifth grade cursing lesson that every adolescent must endure to pass into Yankeehood.

In an ABC interview, Don Mattingly, a Yankee whose number is now retired, was asked for a prediction of the 2000 World Champion. He answered in two words: “New York.” I guarantee he’s right. So I must step aside from my New York Yankee devotion, and return to my Big Apple responsibilities. This Subway Series is what makes 11,000,000 people happy to know they can’t lose. Their home will once again carry the series trophy. The only fight is between boroughs … and perhaps Jennifer Lopez, whom I saw seated sweetly in the fourth row with a backwards Mets hat, and Mayor Rudy Giuliani, devout Yankee fan and New York City dictator.

I’m sorry if I didn’t convert you non-baseball believers and you mid-westerners. I can’t tell you what I felt, because it is indescribable. I can only ask you to try to understand. Let us have our moment.

It won’t last, and unfortunately, it will probably never happen again. But New Yorkers couldn’t ask for a better end to the millennium. My prediction: New York in at least 4.

Archived article by Josh Plotnik