MLB East Rivalries Through West-Coast Eyes
On July 22, with 90 pounds of clothing—including my treasured Philadelphia Phillies gear—packed away not-so-neatly in a borrowed suitcase, my boyfriend and I boarded an airplane bound for New York. Thoughts of the upcoming baseball games we were set to attend caused me to giggle like a 12-year-old girl awaiting her first school dance.
I was ready. I’ve been patient. Finally, this West-Coast girl was going to witness two MLB East rivalries with her own eyes; within a week, I was going to see the Philadelphia Phillies vs. the New York Mets and the New York Yankees vs. the Boston Red Sox.
Phillies @ Mets (July 23 and 24, 2008)
In California, I’ve proudly sported my Phillies paraphernalia without being booed—even in three different ballparks.
In New York, I stepped out of my hotel room and into the elevator. Soon after me, Mets fans entered, as did the boos. Walking around the city, dirty looks and hisses were thrown my way.
Ah, to be in the city during the midst of a rivalry series—I loved it!
Even the subway ride was interesting, as a child, maybe around six or seven-years old, looked at me and said, “They’re going to lose.”
Result of a healthy baseball upbringing? More likely.
As I stepped through the gates into Shea Stadium, there was something about the old ballpark that made me think of the San Francisco Giants’ old stomping grounds, Candlestick Park. Maybe it was the concrete encasing, or the escalators, or maybe the hot-dog wrappers being blown around by the wind.
The “boos” and “Let’s Go Mets” cheers that my Jimmy Rollins jersey incited quickly interrupted my déjà vu.
I took my seat—just my luck—in the very center of the row. I was surrounded by Mets fans. Scouring my section for a friendly Phillies fan, I spotted them; they were sprinkled all throughout Shea.
Shea seemed to be alive with exciting energy. There was never a quiet moment. Trash-talking fans and baseball aficionados engulfed me. Every pitch was interpreted through cheers or groans—the home fans dictating the majority of the reactions. As the visiting team did something commendable, Phillies fans would stand up and search for comrades, as to exchange air high-fives.
Many of those Phillies fans were at the game with friends, who happened to be Mets fans. Those Mets fans made it a point to taunt their friends whenever their beloved team was on the positive side of the play.
At the end of the series, the Mets prevailed; they won the series 2-1.
This new rivalry is well on its way to becoming a classic.
New York Yankees @ Boston Red Sox (July 27, 2008)
Nothing could have ruined my first visit to Fenway Park—not even the thunderstorm that suckered me into buying an atrocious red poncho.
Fenway was the star of this old rivalry. There was something about this ballpark; it was as if I’ve been here numerous times over the course of my 29 years, and yet this was the first time I stepped foot into it.
Everything felt so familiar—the tempting aromas of the concession stands, the intricate patterns of the outfield grass, and even the old wooden seats with the blue paint chipping away.
The Green Monster was bigger than I imagined, yet I was awed, not terrified, by its monstrosity.
While I feasted on Fenway Franks, my eyes fed upon the sights of the game. The Red Sox fans were vocal and showed their undying dedication to their team. The Yankees fans didn’t hold back, but the home fans intentionally drowned their voices.
When the big-named players, namely David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, were at the plate, staccato flashes of a moment captured filled the ballpark. The tiny bursts of light from fans’ cameras were prominent in all the East-Coast ballparks I visited, but Fenway had the most sparks.
Similar to Shea, Fenway had an electric energy to it. The whole evening had a passionate feel—maybe because, coming into the last game of this series, the Red Sox were down 0-2 and the fans were ready for a win. The sky reflected that passion with a magnificent display of colors caused by the passing thunderstorm.
It was easy to get caught up in the excitement with the great baseball fans surrounding me. There was such a diverse mix—young and old, relaxed and agitated, sober and (loudly) intoxicated. I found myself caught up in the elation as Big Papi’s home run seemed to coast directly to me, dipping down a few rows short.
Of all the countless baseball games I’ve attended, this has to be the most emotional because of the baseball history—the ballpark, the rivalry, and the ambiance.
As a baseball fan, a trip like this is essential. The game, so pure and artistic, is one that takes on different personalities determined by elements that include the players, fans, and ballpark. While many of us bleed the colors of our favorite teams, we can’t deny that we are all connected by the love of this game.
I’ve loved the game of baseball since my elementary school days. By visiting the East Coast, this West-Coast girl has found new appreciation for a game that she’s been in love with for most of her life.
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