A Bronx Yankee in King Roger's Court

"IF THOU liveth 10 minutes away from Yankee Stadium, thou shalt be a Yankee fan."

That's the Bronx's first commandment.

"Thou shalt hate the Boston Red Sox because, after all, Boston sucketh."

That's the second.

Ten years ago, I was a loyal Bronxite. Adored the Yankees because they are the Yankees and only a subway ride away. Hated the Red Sox because they are evil.


Ten years ago, in 1978, when Reggie was still Reggie, such a philosophy was easy to follow. The Yankee-Red Sox rivalry was the biggest in baseball. The Red Sox were up by 14 games in late July. But the Bombers came back, and it all-came down to one afternoon game at Fenway in early October.

That was the day I had to stay after school for throwing spitballs in the cafeteria. Yet maybe it was some kind of baseball luck, because the teacher, maybe she was a Yankee fan, let me out early.

After running six blocks to my house, I came in two pitches before Bucky Dent took Mike Torrez downtown. Soon, the Yanks were the American League East champs.

Life was innocent then. Life was simple. Love the Yanks. Hate the Sox.

AUGUST 2, 1988, six days before Wrigley will bask under the lights, life is a bit more complicated.

This is the first summer that I haven't been to the Stadium. Instead of being a subway ride away, I'm now an Eastern shuttle away. The convenience has vanished.

Instead of catching the Yanks every night on television, I've become a faithful reader of the writer, known by many as "From Wire Dispatches." I can only imagine Don Mattingly drilling a shot to right field or Dave Winfield throwing a runner out at the plate. That is if Mr. Wire Dispatches decided to include it in his three-paragraph story.

So where does a Yankee fan lost in the winding streets of Cambridge turn to?

The Kenmore stop on the Green Line, home of the Green Monster and the Boston Red Sox.

I was at Fenway for Boston's 5-0 win over the Brewers on Sunday. The Sox were a half-game behind the Yanks and logic told me to root for the Brewers. But how could I root for Dale Sveum, the Brewer shortstop? Or even Rob Deer, who swings more than the Glen Miller band?

AFTER new Bosox hurler Mike Boddicker struck out Paul Molitor on a pitch that jitter-bugged its way across the plate and after Kevin Romine made a catch that could rival the Say Hey Kid's, I was hooked for the afternoon. By the eighth inning, I joined the Fenway faithful in a standing ovation for Boddicker. By the last out of the game, I was up on my feet.

Here was a good team playing great baseball. In fact, the Sox have lost only one game since the All-Star break and have won 20 straight games at Fenway.

There's Mike Greenwell, the closest thing in baseball to Mattingly. And Ellis Burks, who is predicted by many in baseball to be the next superstar. By the way, Wade Boggs is the fourth all-time hitter in baseball history.

Then there's Rocket Roger Clemens, the most dominant pitcher in baseball. Joe Morgan, what have you done to me?

They're booing me in the Bronx. Soon, the major New York newspapers will have my face sprawled on the back of their sports pages with the headline, "This Guy Must Be Sick!"

Yes, it is a sickness. No Yankee fan, no true Bronx Bomber, could root for the Red Sox. But I have.

I tell you, doc, I'm sick. There must be a cure.

I need to take an Eastern shuttle back to New York. I have to get back on a Lexington Avenue IRT headed downtown and get off at the 161st St. stop. I have to go back to the box seats behind first base, watch Mattingly turn over a double play and then watch him hit the upper deck in the bottom of the ninth.

But if I can't get back to the Stadium and have to read another two-sentence story on the Yankees-Tigers series, then I wouldn't mind staying sick.