“Yankees suck, Yankees suck,” it’s a common chant, but for most of you Yankee fans, it’s something you probably only hear on TV. Me? Well, I’ve been living in what I like to refer to as the diaspora for much of the last fifteen years, so when I get to see my team play live, it’s in road grays and it’s at the opposing team’s stadium. Even my cat, Thurman, is gray.
Fortunately, these days I am living in Minneapolis so I actually don’t hear it that much. I have yet to miss a Yankee game at the Twins’ beautiful new, downtown park Target Field. Unlike most other cities, Twins fans seem to know their place, they know their team is going to lose to the Evil Empire. How much so? Last season, I nearly felt sorry for Twinkies fans suffering though an awful season. There I am in my Dave Winfield #31 pinstriped Yankee uniform consoling them before the game that A.J. Burnett “pitched” that they would probably take that one out of the four game series.
But, having spent two seasons living in the Bay Area, I can’t say anything nice about A’s fans. Maybe it’s their awful park, or maybe it’s their now-perennially awful team, but Oakland fans tend to just be kind of nasty to Yankee fans; there I have had things thrown at me – and I don’t just mean words.
Now, back to that chant which started up in Boston (personally I wouldn’t go to Fenway unless they burned it to the ground and salted the earth so nothing could ever grow in its place) but has spread like the flu. When I left New York and moved to the West Coast after the 2001 World Series, I was lucky to have the Yankees make the trip out West very early in the season. I travelled along for all three games against the aforementioned A’s and then three more up in beautiful Safeco field versus the Mariners.
The first game up there in Seattle, I recall sitting in the right-field seats as the Yanks started to take it to the home-team and that chant started up, but it was feeble at best. Me and another Yankee fan, who was sitting near me, stood up and joined their “Yankees suck” chant, but with gusto. Heads turned, people looked at us – garbed in all our Yankee finery – and didn’t know what to think. The best part? The PA announcement at the commencement of the following day’s game warning fans that language used the day before would not be tolerated. Yeah, I did that.
Now, I have had the glorious privilege of seeing quite a number of post-season games at Yankee Stadium, so don’t feel too sorry for me. At my first World Series game in 1981 (Game 2) I had the honor of being flipped the bird by Dodger’s pitcher Jerry Reuss; I’d been getting on him about the home run he’d given up to Bobby Murcer the night before, so I guess I had it coming.
But still, nothing to date beats being at Game 3 of the 1998 World Series against the Padres. A partisan crowd to be sure, I was very lucky to get a ticket at the last minute. Having called in sick to work, I was sitting high up down the first-base line and San Diego fans had been getting on me something fierce all night long. And they were as loud as Southern California fans can get, gloating over the lead Trevor Hoffman had in the ninth.
Then Scott Brosius took Hoffman yard and I think even their closer could hear me down on the mound because the place, which had been rollicking, got dead quiet; just like their season and their hopes. Yes, not much beats singing, “New York, New York” at Yankee Stadium after a World Series win; but that night singing it alone, as a Padre fan, who had been on my case all night long, bought me a beer, was something else. Yankees suck, indeed.