When the Statue of Liberty was erected in New York harbor, it was placed atop an engraved pedestal that read, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free . . ." and some other crap. That message has stood as a beacon for the downtrodden for more than six years, welcoming into the United States members of any race and religion, so long as they don't pose an immediate threat to our security, or look like they pose an immediate threat to our security, or come from the same general region / continent as someone who may pose a threat to our security.
During this time America has flourished as a haven for the disenfranchised and crestfallen, all of whom have passed ol' Lady Liberty en route to the welcoming arms of New York City. But lately those words have had a hollow ring about them as this city has turned its back on many of those people that it once embraced people no different than you or I, except for geographical prejudice that has tagged them as a threat and, subsequently, a pariah. It's as if New York has posted a massive billboard conveying one simple message "Bostonians, you are not welcome here."
Having just moved to Manhattan, I should be part of this movement. I should hate the Red Sox for what they've done. I grew up a Yankees fan, feeding off of the influence of my father and his Long Island family while the Don Mattingly era of baseball defined baseball nay, sports for this third grader. Then they entered the modern age of Yankee economics and I fell away, lost in baseball indifference. I wandered aimlessly for a few years, disconnected by the strike and lost in high school and its marked lack of productivity. When I emerged from the haze I found the Brewers, and with them, salvation. The Brewers represented everything good about baseball heart, cheap players and a fundamental connection with beer. But the Brewers just don't believe in making playoffs and thus left me right back where I started, pondering the question: who do you root for when your own team is real, real bad?
It's almost a given in New York City that if you're a resident, you're a Yankees fan. Tell people otherwise and you get those incredulous looks. It's like the Salem witch hunts, except it's no longer just Salem; it's Boston, it's Massachusetts; it's everyone who isn't a Yanks fan, "'cause if you're not a Yankees fan then you're a Red Sox fan. But that's not to say that no room remains for Sox fans in the city. They appear in batches, shouting from the back of the bar, prompting everyone to look around and grumble, wondering, "who dares cheer for them?" while the culprit sits with a smile and a Sam Adams and maybe a "B"-emblazoned hat if he's there with big friends.
Boston fans have permeated New York, my apartment and, inevitably, my psyche. It's those shaggy, dirty, perennial losers coming back from 3-0 with a series of scrappy marathon games games emblematic of everything this team stands for. Curt Schilling pulled a Kerri Strug and vaulted over a mammoth Yankees line-up. Derek Lowe reached a new high after a lackluster season. Johnny Damon was the appropriate hero in game seven after floundering his way through the series. It all amounted to a Red Sox David vs. Yankees Goliath scenario, and though insiders may have known about the power of that pebble and sling, the rest of us couldn't help but fear the Giant.
Still, who am I to discuss this conflagration? I'm just an outsider, caught in a torrid love triangle while my true love rests in Milwaukee, presumably drunk and as dumbfounded as the rest of us. The ALCS has been a brief, passionate tryst with two beautiful women. The Yankees were my sweet neighbor an alluring girl next door that blossomed into a sultry diva, one so cocky and pretentious as to have no place for an old friend like me. Then the Red Sox appeared like a thrilling, beautiful foreign girl on spring break, the kind of affair that won't last but that is too enthralling to forgo, and suddenly I was lost in a swirling romance that would be the most thrilling sports series in history. Now, it's only because my cuckolded Brewers team is waiting for me in bed next season that I can't say that I care who won that pivotal series.
But I can't say that I don't, either.