You Stay Classy, New York City
The fans of the New York Yankees have probably never been mistaken for sportsmanlike, at least not in the last 15-20 years or so. It’s not just the Yankees - Mrs. Sizemore can tell you how much I despise the Boston Red Sox. In fact, as far as baseball goes, these are the two teams that I love to hate the most. Ahead of Marlins and Braves teams that beat the Indians in the World Series. Ahead of a White Sox team that has become a natural enemy ever since the divisions were realigned in the 1990s. I can say with absolute certainty that if you include all sports, I only hate three teams more: the Baltimore Ravens, Michigan Wolverines and Pittsburgh Steelers.
That being said, the New York media and Yankees fans have stooped to a new low. I’ll be the first to admit that at sporting events, I’ve been known to have a couple of adult beverages and heckle the opposing players. But I am one who believes that there is an art to it. I don’t cuss at them. I don’t talk about their families. I don’t talk to their families. I just like to rub it in when they’re having a bad day. If I’m close enough to the playing surface that they can hear me, I try to get in their kitchen a little bit. But I always try to stay respectful. These fans? Not so much.
Keep in mind that this was the All-Star Game. It is a time for celebration. A time for honoring the greatest players of the past and the greatest players in the game today. A time for those great players to celebrate with their families and enjoy one last All-Star game in Yankee Stadium. And yes, I know that in 1998, the American League chose not to play Albert Belle in the All-Star Game at all because the Cleveland Indians fans had showered him with monopoly money, beer and even batteries during his first trip back to “The Jake” after bolting for the $55 million the White Sox offered him in free agency. There was no excuse for that either, but at least that was directed at little Joey and not his family.
All of that leads me to the classless lowlifes that seem to make up the fan base of the Bronx Bombers and the New York media. While being interviewed on Monday, Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon made a comment about how if he were managing the All-Star team, he would name himself the closer. Tuesday morning, there was an article on the front page of the New York Daily News that read “Papelbum!” The article inside blasted the Sawx reliever for having the audacity to believe he should be placed in that role ahead of Yankees closer, and future Hall of Famer, Mariano Rivera. After all, this is the final season at Yankee Stadium and the game was played there. This is a day for only the Yankees, I guess.
Here’s the problem: What the article didn’t do was reference any of the rest of the interview. The part where Papelbon said that as a competitor, any closer would want to be in that position. Where he said that given the history of the Yankees and the situation, that he understood why Rivera was the man for the American League on Tuesday night. The part where he referred to Mariano as “the Godfather of closing.”
In response to the article, Yankees fans showed up for the All-Star parade on Tuesday and booed Papelbon. They yelled obscenities at him. They shouted death threats at his pregnant wife. She even commented afterwards that it was the first time in her life that she didn’t feel safe.
During the game, Papelbon was greeted with a chorus of boos during introductions as well as when he entered the game in the 8th inning with the score tied 2-2. Understandable. Then when leadoff man Miguel Tejada singled, the boos got louder, but they were also mixed with a few cheers. Tejada stole second and went to third on a throwing error by the AL catcher Dioner Navarro. Then a sacrifice fly by Adrian Gonzalez scored the go-ahead run and the boos were back, this time mixed in with even more cheers.
I sat and thought for a second, “Are the Yankees fans really dumb enough to root for the National League to score a run just because Papelbon is in the game? How ridiculous is that?” The last time I checked, for one night, we’re all on the same team. They cheered Red Sox outfielder J.D. Drew when he hit a two-run homer in the 7th inning to tie the game. They loved Josh Hamilton of the Rangers on Monday night during the Home Run Derby. Hell, I even let out a “Come on Jeets!” when Derek Jeter came up with an RBI opportunity in the 5th. And if you know me at all you know how much I hate Jeter.
What little respect I had for the New Yankees and their fans is gone after the events of the All-Star Game and parade in New York City. It was a time to celebrate the game of baseball. It was a time to honor the greatest players in the game. It was a time to celebrate the history and the mystique of Yankee Stadium; instead, these fans disrespected baseball in their own house.