As a Red Sox fan living in Brooklyn, NY for the last 16 years or so, I've experienced a lot of conflict. Being surrounded by Yankee fans (and not to sound typically "team-ist", but some of my best friends are Yankee fans), I have always had my guard up to defend against the old taunts of "1918" and "Buckner", and the general arrogance of a fan base that draws upon its 26 world championships (most of which happened way before they were born) whenever they feel threatened.
But it all changed on October 27, 2004 when the Red Sox finally won it all for the first time since - let's hear it Yankee fans! - 1918. You could argue that it really changed on October 20 when the Sox completed the greatest comeback of all time, and the deafening silence I experienced the next day (as I bought several copies of the local rags to celebrate the misery of Yankee fans who so often exploited ours) is pretty strong evidence for that theory. But if we didn't win it all against the Cardinals, the silence wouldn't have lasted.
All of a sudden, we won again in 2007, we were a game away from another World Series last year while the Yankees didn't even make the playoffs, and then we won the first eight match-ups of 2009. The growing silence of Yankee fans as I walked the streets of New York in my Sox hats and jackets and championship t-shirts was starting to get really comfortable. Too comfortable.
But then the biggest spenders in baseball history dropped almost a half billion dollars during one of the worst economic times of this country's history and have since reaped the benefits, as they have been completely dominant since the All-Star break. It looks like they'll face the Tigers in the first round of the playoffs, and I can't imagine them pulling a 2006 in this series. And until the Angles beat us in the postseason, I'll never believe they can. So if I'm right, it's going to get very loud again here in New York as the Yanks and Sox get poised to meet in the ALCS for the first time since the greatest comeback/greatest choke in sports history.
The difference this time is that I feel some apprehension on the part of Yankee fans. Sure, they're yapping a bit here and there, but they still smart from the last six years of disappointment. They are afraid to talk big and be embarrassed if their beloved pinstripers fall short again, especially against their biggest rivals.
They sound like I did before Game 7 of the ALCS in 2003 - hopeful and a bit desperate. After Aaron Bleepin' Boone's dinger, I was planning on moving out of New York as soon as possible because I couldn't take one more sound from what I considered the most obnoxious, most spoiled fans in all of sports. The worst part of that game was that deep down inside, I absolutely, positively knew it was going to happen. It had to. In the most painful way possible - with a lead late and the best pitcher in our recent history on the mound, and then going to extras and losing on a walkoff. Only 2004 could have made that all better. And what has followed since has put Yankee fans in the position of the defensive and desperate.
I only hope the Red Sox can silence Yankee fans once again because I don't want them to get their attitude back. I like having them on edge the way Red Sox fans had been for ages until 2004. I love knowing they can't say jack about the Red Sox unless they can surpass them and win their 27th. And I can hope that their championship drought will be closer to 86 years than a mere nine. Either way, it's going to get loud here in New York in October. And either way, I can quote Mr. T as Clubber Lang in Rocky III and say, "My prediction? Pain."