Cubs fans are on a rampage, literally. This week featured two stories of fans taking a baseball game a little too seriously. On June 19, a Chicago White Sox fan was beaten by three Chicago Cubs fans, resulting in the Sox fan losing his right eye. Then on June 30 three Chicago Cubs fans were accused of beating up a Milwaukee Brewers fan. While the circumstances for each case should be looked into, I’d rather like to look into the nature of rivalries themselves. But instead of looking at all rivalries, I would like to focus on one city: New York.
While I spent a few days in New York last week, enjoying both Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium (where the N.Y. Mets and Billy Joel frequent), I was intrigued by many things. Before I left to go on my New York trip I explained to many friends and fellow baseball lovers that both Shea and Yankee Stadium are in their final years. Most reacted by saying oh yeah, I know Yankee, but Shea too?
I thought this was kind of odd. It is like the Mets are the odd men left out. I kept this in mind when I attended a game at each stadium. While Yankee Stadium is considerably older (1923) than Shea (1964), I was not really all that surprised with the newer amenities that Shea offered (escalators). Instead I was surprised by the fans in attendance.
Now I’m not going to knock on Yankees fans, but they confuse me. They seem to attend games in droves, like any good team’s fans often do, but they do not seem all that into the game that they are watching. They seem to be more in love with the idea of the Yankees than the actual act of watching the Yankees. Maybe it was the one game that I attended that made it seem like this, but I attended another game last year at Yankee Stadium and I was left with a similar impression. One overzealous fan even swore at an eight year-old child because he was wearing the opposing team’s jersey.
The new Yankee Stadium promises to be state of the art and will include a Hard Rock Café and an upscale steak restaurant. But while the new stadium will be luxurious, it will come at a pretty hefty price. The budget is scheduled to cost $1.3 billion with a portion of the money coming from taxpaying citizens ($450 million to be exact).
The Mets on the other hand seem to be the forgotten crew in New York. Located in Queens, the Mets seem to be more of a working class hero team. Shea Stadium is inconveniently located right next to a junk yard, giving it a gritty feeling.
While I attended two games at Shea (wearing a hat and a t-shirt of the opposing team) I had an overall enjoyable experience. The fans and employees were very friendly. Even after the Mets won a game against my team, I was not taunted for my team’s failure (this normally happens at Wrigley Field).
Fans are one of the more interesting parts of attending a baseball game. If you have annoying fans surrounding you, it can change your whole experience.
While Mets fans may hate Yankees fans for stolen attention and a certain arrogance that can be associated with having a $1.3 billion stadium (and the highest payroll in baseball), I am glad that they (or at least most) are not angered to the point of violence. When fans become more than fans (becoming reckless vigilantes instead) the sport is no longer a sport. These people need to check their team’s and their egos at the door. Baseball fans are supposed to have friendly rivalries; they are not football players – warriors preparing for war.
Next time you attend a game against a rival team, just think about how you would like to be treated. Quick jabs and jokes can be fun on occasion, but when these things turn to violence, there is a bigger loser than just one team.