I know what they say, if you’re a New York Mets fan you’re supposed to loathe and despise the New York Yankees. It’s expected that if the crosstown Bronx Bombers are playing out in Los Angeles against the Angels, you root, root, root your ass off so that they suffer some type of on-field meltdown or catastrophe: Jason Giambi getting a golden sombrero, Derek Jeter jamming his shoulder sliding into third, A-Rod being emotionally too fragile to drive in the man from third, Mariano Rivera blowing a four-run lead with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. All these things can be kind of amusing when one is surrounded by obnoxiously over confident Yankees fans, but if it helps out the Boston Red Sox I want no part of it.

I’m going to say in the blogosphere what I’ve been saying to my insipid Yankee-hating, Red Sox fan roommate about his beloved boys from Boston: I will never, never, never root for the Sox over the Bombers so long as I live. That’s a promise.

All grudges are based on something personal, and I will be the first to admit that my hatred of the Boston Red Sox may have some personal foundations. For a while before I moved to Brooklyn (I live in Albany now), I was a college student in Boston and had to endure the constant whining, crying, self-important insistence that by virtue of the fact that the Red Sox hadn’t won the World Series since before radio broadcasts existed I was somehow an ass for not routing for them.

Going to Emerson College for two semesters, a school known for it’s not so manly guys, I was was familiar with the fact that many guys who move to the city to go to school adopt the Sox as their favorite team. They do it for several reasons: A) Their fathers never threw the ball around with them as a kid and it was their first time to really connect to a sports franchise, B) Being in the “Hub” they believe that they must root for the team that is most associated with Boston and C) That by routing for the Red Sox they are pulling for a team that is somehow more genuine, real, and less corrupted than the other profit-driven teams in Major League Baseball, particularly the “Evil Empire” in the Bronx, the New York Yankees.

Certainly, I will never admit to being a New York Yankees fan. For four years I dated a girl who lived on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx and we would have to agree to disagree about which team was more likable in New York. But never during our relationship and subsequent friendship have she and I differed over who we would support should the Yankees make the trip up the Mass Pike to Beantown or the Sox head down the Taconic Parkway to play one another. We were always on the same page: Go Yanks!!!

It disturbs me a bit when I hear fellow Mets fans say that they were happy when the Yankees imploded in the 2004 American League Championship Series against the Sox. Having watched every pitch of the 2003 series in my Bay Ridge apartment and nearly every pitch of the 2004 rematch, I’ll admit that I had a little too much invested in the Sox losing, but I must say that liking the Mets in no way should require one to root against the Yankees arch nemesis on Yawkey Way.

So where does this impervious and peculiar bedfellowship with the Yankees come from, particularly when in recent years the crop of Yankees players with their arrogance and cowardice (Giambi, Kevin Brown, Gary Sheffield, Tom Gordon, Carl Pavano) have driven me nuts with a mixture of anger and glee? It comes not from a hatred of Red Sox players or fans, for to take sports that seriously is a little bit frightening. Rather, my dislike of the Boston Red Sox comes from an attitude imbued by Fenway fanatics that theirs is somehow a benevolent team cast unfairly against a heartless, soulless divisional foe that is resembles more of a comic book crime syndicate than a professional sports franchise.

The attitude that New England’s favorite sports team was worthy of a World Championship in a sport that embodies the spirit of capitalism and competition as well as baseball without earning it really bothered me. That spirit was conversely what caused the the Sox to win the Series to fairly and squarely beat the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS. Still, doesn’t mean I should ever have rooted for them. And so I didn’t. I never will. Ever. Did I say that already.

I think that a lot of the bitterness that exists from Red Sox towards the Yankees fans has less to do with baseball than it has to do with an alienation over the fact that New York City is a far bigger and influential town than the city of 500,000 on the banks of the Charles River. I’ll never forget being told over and over again by New Englanders at Emerson that New York City sucked, that New Yorkers were rude and arrogant and entitled, just like I’ll never forget during the 2000 World Series against the Yankees walking on Massachusetts Avenue wearing my Mets cap and being approached by guy with a Sox shirt who stopped me to say, “Fuck New York”, before walking away into the bittahness of his life.

Mind you, when the Mets were being pummeled in the first World Series of the new millennium I was shouting angrily at Roger Clemens, Derek Jeter, Scott Brosius, Tino Martinez, Jeff Nelson and anyone else wearing pinstripes. I was also doing so while living with an exiled Bombers fan and not one hard feeling was traded between the two of us. Another roommate from Foxboro rooted with me for the Mets and declared himself a Red Sox hater do to the collective bitterness of their fans, which bothered to no end our female roommate from Lowell.

It always seemed to me that the hatred of the Yankees was based not simply on the 26 World Championships of the Yankees but more about the fact that when one thinks of the Northeast’s premier city they’re not going to think of Philadelphia, Newark or even Washington, D.C. They’re certainly not going to think of Boston. They’ll think of New York. I moved to Brooklyn in the summer of 2001 and shortly after the attacks of September 11, I got a call from my Sox-hating Massachusetts roommate to tell me about a new t-shirt circulating around the the city: “Fuck It, I Still Hate New York”. Not surprisingly, I was told, it could be seen on some folks around Landsdowne Street milling around during Sox games. Although I suspect most New York-hating Sox fans would never wear that shirt, it does speak of the bitterness that exists towards New York City, a hatred that is hardly reciprocated in and around the five Boroughs that make up the Big Apple. This is the bitterness that got my brother (who now lives in Boston and roots for the Yanks) punched at a bar for defending a friend, who was vocally cheering for the Yanks during a particularly embarrassing game for the Sox in 2005. This is the bitterness that motivated an MBTA rider to tell my ex-girlfriend’s stepfather, a Jamaican immigrant more fond of cricket than baseball, that he shouldn’t be wearing a Yankees hat in his city while he was there visiting a hospitalized relative. This is the same bitterness that led angry Sox fans to provoke Boston Police into firing bean bags into a rowdy crowd outside of Fenway park after the ALCS (an incident former Sox outfielder Trot Nixon said he would trade any series victory he won not to have happened). This was the same insipid bottled up maniacal meanness that inspired the torching and vandalism of cars with New York plates parked along Boylston Street.

I’m not a Yankee fan, and I must admit that less than three days after screaming my lungs out over Aaron Boone’s series ending homer in Game 7 2003 ALCS and cheering with my Yanks fan roommate and the rest of Brooklyn, I was pulling for the Marlins to win the World Series. I’ll be the first to admit I was happy when the Tigers embarrassed them last year in a four game divisional series, just as easily as I’ll admit to jumping around my parents’ house when David Wright spoiled Mariano Rivera’s save attempt in 2006 at Shea Stadium.

I’m no Yankee fan, but I can’t subscribe to the attitude that I must always rout against them. I love New York City. I think it’s a great place and if it makes me bizarre to pull for the Yankees over the Sox than that is fine. I can live with that. I’ve lived in both towns, and boy does this Albany-raised boy love the Big Apple.

I’ll defend the Yankees and the millions they shell out because that’s the game. It’s not like the Sox or Mets with their own enormous payrolls that bring in stars like Dice-K or Carlos Beltran are egalitarian socialists. A Red Sox friend once told a friend of mine that the Yankees were “corporate”.

I suppose my roommate will never understand why I will pull fo pinstripes over Red Sox Nation, but I’ve laid out my case and feel I’m very much justified having lived in both cities. Now, if only I could get my fellow Mets fans to get on the boat.

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