Sox-Yankees rivalry has students trading barbs, punches
Late last Thursday night, as bars emptied out, one Syracuse University student – it doesn’t matter who, just know that he proudly wore a Red Sox hat – took a punch to the chin and suddenly found himself eye-to-eye with the Marshall Street sidewalk.
Quickly, he picked himself up from the ground, glanced at the Yankee fan who’d just fought with him, then at the crowd of onlookers that’d just witnessed the latest episode of Boston-New York tomfoolery.
‘Hey,’ the irate Sox fan said, delivering an explanation that, at the time, sounded quite sane. ‘He called me a Yankees fan.’
Of course, at this time of year on this campus under these circumstances, few words, depending on your ideological leaning, are more insulting. During the last week, as the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have fought for a berth in baseball’s World Series, Sox and Yanks fans at Syracuse have fought here like they always do – only with less civility than ever, which is bad news for anybody who knows how the Boston and New York fandom behaves in its typical state.
This year, though, it seems like everyone must pick a side. At SU, this century-old rivalry violently cuts the student body in half, in the manner that the hulking Slim Jim mascot snaps apart his cured beef. There’s no middle ground. Either you’re a Yanks fan or a Sox fan.
Either you’re never satisfied or you’re always miserable; either you’re embracing tradition or repressing tradition; either you’re swinging smoothly to Sinatra or drunkenly gyrating to Springsteen; either you buy championships or you blow championships; either you expect the Sox to receive their comeuppance or you pray against all logic the Yanks will be dealt, finally, their cowboyuppance.
Ladies, gentlemen and belligerents: This is the biggest rivalry on campus – inevitably boorish, undeniably entertaining. On and on it goes, back and forth much like the ALCS itself. Students can’t stop talking about it. They can’t stop thinking about it. They can’t stop fighting about it.
‘It’s so easy to be a fan of a team that does nothing but win,’ junior Elie Rabinowitz said. ‘That doesn’t take any fanaticism. You have to suffer a bit to know how to love.’
(It will be easy to guess who’s pulling for whom here.)
‘Sox fans, they root against everybody,’ senior Adam Brown said. ‘They get more joy out of watching other people suffer than their own team succeed.’
(I told you, on and on.)
‘All about the money,’ senior Chrissy Maron said, eyes rolled skyward in search of some descriptive words for the foe. ‘Pompous. Obnoxious. Always chanting about their 26 rings. Always talking about Babe Ruth.’
(OK, now for the final word. I couldn’t find a Sox fan who could top this one.)
‘Let me say this,’ senior Bobby Serge said, suggesting something that Don Zimmer would be very unwise to follow. ‘If the Yankees lose, I will run around the entire Quad naked.’
By all accounts, this is a very bad idea, but then again, the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is founded on bad ideas. Only Sox fans, for instance, see the reason for purchasing a fitted Boston hat, then wearing it until the blue fades to brown and a salty-white line of sweat residue, looking very much like the mountain range on a Busch Lite can, forms along the top of the cap.
The nonsense doesn’t stop there. Sox fans might be the last people on Earth who buy T-shirt jerseys. They’re likely the only people not annoyed by Nomah’s pre-swing twitching. They’re undoubtedly the only people who’d break out a ‘Yankees suck!’ chant on Marshall Street … while celebrating SU’s basketball championship.
Conversely, Yanks fans deserve some blame, too. They wear their interlocking NY caps like reformed Jews wear their yarmulkes – only for the most important occasions. They’ve convinced themselves that Derek Jeter has good range and just one girlfriend. They think the regular season is just an extended prologue, a time for them to sit back and watch George Steinbrenner play with his Monopoly money.
So pick your side. According to Lynda Mason, SU’s director of research-enrollment management, roughly 17 percent of Syracuse students are from New York City. Another 10 percent come from Massachusetts. But that doesn’t count Sox diehards from other New England states, or Yanks loyalists from Connecticut, or other sorry souls (like me) from baseball Siberia (well, Pittsburgh) who’ve decided to pick a side and jump into the fight.
So what side am I on? Let’s just say I want the Sox to win. But if they do, I’ll stay away from the Quad.
Chico Harlan is a staff writer for The Daily Orange, where his columns appear each Tuesday – except today! E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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