The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are in the middle of a playoff series that’s dividing Connecticut residents.
But as the legendary rivalry reaches another dramatic crescendo, one segment of area baseball fans is once again on the outside looking in.
If you go to a sports store in the state and try to buy a shirt featuring your favorite baseball team, you might not find anything in blue and orange – only red or pinstripes.
New York Mets fans know that feeling.
Eric Parker, WFSB Eyewitness News Channel 3’s chief investigative reporter, is one of them.
“People ask if you’re a baseball fan and you say 'Yes' and they say, ‘Oh Yankees or Red Sox?’ and you have to explain to them that there’s this other team that some people like,” Parker said. “Sometimes, you feel like an outsider, even in your own community, because everybody is one or the other and you’re neither.”
The Mets play 10 miles away from the 27-time world champion Bronx Bombers. There’s that sick feeling Mets fans can have when they realize their team can never win as many titles as the Yankees can, which makes it hard to win any argument with a Yankee fan.
“It’s hard to watch the Yankees do what they do, although what they do is great,” said Jamie Yakushewich, a paraprofessional at Seymour High School. “It’s just that when you’re a Mets fan, it kind of stinks.”
I know what these guys are saying – I’m a Mets fan too. It started when I was a mouthy little punk, when my brother Vinnie and my cousin Joey Nania would bring me to games -- if I behaved.
I’d say that most Mets fans are rooting for the Red Sox. But, not my cousin Joey. He rooted against Boston the last time the Yankees and the Sox met in the playoffs.
“It’s New York so I’m sure if the Mets were playing the Red Sox in the World Series, I’m sure the Yankees fans would be wanting the Mets to beat them,” said Nania, who’s from Oakville and works in finance.
One local sports columnist said that Mets fans would feel better if they’d embrace their own pinstripes.
Dom Amore writes for the Courant and he’s authored a book called A Franchise on the Rise: The First Twenty Years of the New York Yankees.
“It’s just a matter for a Met fan of understanding that they have an interesting history and they have to live it – and not really worry about what the Yankees are doing,” Amore said. “They have two of those most beloved championship teams in New York sports history in 1969 and 1986. Their rise from ‘lovable losers’ expansion team 1962 to the championship in 1969 was one of those remarkable stories in baseball history.”
Part of that advice from Amore goes to the team. He said that Mets brass shouldn’t try to “out-Yankee the Yankees” meaning that they shouldn’t try to outbid and outspend other teams for free agents in an attempt to get better. Instead, they can take a page out of the book of a recent world championship Red Sox team. Amore pointed to the 2013 team that brought in veterans like Shane Victorino and Jonny Gomes to supplement homegrown talent. The Mets do have tremendous young pitching led by the presumptive National League Cy Young Jacob DeGrom.
And as far as the rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees goes, Amore said that won’t slow down anytime soon.
“I don’t know that in this rivalry there’s ever been a period where both teams have so many home-grown young stars,” Amore said. “The rivalry has almost taken on like a high school football rivalry that we might have here in Connecticut where it’s like our kids against their kids.”
Yankees star Aaron Judge won last year’s American League Rookie of the Year.
The Red Sox are by Most Valuable Player–candidate Mookie Betts.
Both of those players are just 26 years old.
As for the Mets, It’s been 32 years since they won a World Series. They actually beat the Red Sox on October 27, 1986 – two nights after a ball went through the legs of Bill Buckner.
I was born three years later – so I didn’t see it.