Sitting in the right field bleachers on Opening Night at Yankee Stadium, wearing four shirts and a heavy coat underneath my Trot Nixon jersey, I was able to observe Yankee fans in their natural, undisturbed habitat.
My evening had already gotten off to a bad start—I wanted to upgrade my seats but couldn’t find any scalpers outside the stadium. I assumed that I would be bombarded by these fine gentlemen just like at Kenmore Square, where you can always count that lovely horde of unshaven white males in their thirties, clad in Adidas warmups with bling-bling on their necks, uttering from their two-word lexicon consisting of “Buying?” and “Selling?”
I couldn’t find anyone doing the latter outside Yankee Stadium, so there I was, relegated to the right field bleachers and the chaos contained therein.
Alcohol is not sold to the outfield-dwellers, meaning that the typical Yankee bleacher creature arrives at his seat already completely smashed, having imbibed enough before the game to maintain his drunken stupor for at least three hours.
I was quite impressed by both the synchronized chants and the overall level of vulgarity of the New York followers. In an utterly unenjoyable 9-2 pounding of the Red Sox, the bleacher denizens were probably the most entertaining part of the night.
Yankee Stadium traditions bear vague similarities to those at Fenway, but Yankee fans tend to be more obscene, lacking even the shreds of subtlety that would make their statements funny. Fenway, for example, has its middle-of-the-eighth tradition of playing Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline,” to which all 35,000 Sox faithful sing along.
The Yankees’ song of choice is “YMCA,” but in the bleachers the song is distorted to a rhyming, less-PC version, with a chorus of “Why are you gay?” Moreover, the fans direct their rendition of the song at whichever lone opposing fan they can find. This meant that I had about twenty drunk New Yorkers pointing at me and singing the song. I suggested that they target their melody at Derek Jeter, but for some reason I was ignored.
Maybe it was just because the game was boring, out of reach, and entirely meaningless compared to last October, but the obnoxious Yankee fans in the bleachers were amusing rather than annoying, and they treated everyone the same way they treated me. They were equal-opportunity haters, and once they got tired of harassing Boston fans, they bothered anyone in sight. At one point, they even turned to their left in unison and started chanting “Box seats suck!”
I really liked the guy right in front of me. He was wearing sweatpants, a sweatshirt, and $150 Nike Shox, which would have been a cool outfit if he wasn’t a 5-foot-7 fat white guy. He would yell things at me and then shake my hand and apologize.
One of the “Name in the Lights” specials on the scoreboard featured a message from a guy asking his girlfriend to marry him, but the bleacher bums were entirely against the proposal, shouting such pleasantries as, “Don’t do it honey—he’s been cheating on you with another man!”
As the fans lost interest in the game, the keen intellects of the men in the bleachers became readily apparent.
“Jump, you idiot,” shouted the guy in front of me for the eighth time at the man standing at the edge of the upper tier about forty feet above us.
“We see you, get off your fricking cell phone,” yelled another fan, the victim’s Yankee hat not enough to prevent such abuse. “And nice jacket buddy,” the guy continued. “Where you going—a job interview?”
The Red Sox put on their most pathetic performance since Game 3 of last year’s ALCS, but the bleacher fanatics kept it interesting to the frigid end. See you guys in Boston next week—you’re welcome anytime.
—Staff writer Stewart H. Hauser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.