By Jonathan Usher – @madduxman
As Sox fans, somehow we embraced “Cowboy Up,” and then we had the “Idiots.” I wasn’t a big fan of either term, but I loved those teams. I guess you could probably persuade me that those labels – although not very long lasting (one season each, thank God), were at least accurate depictions, even endearing. Most of us enjoy hearing ourselves singing along with the pink hats during the late inning “Sweet Caroline” at Fenway, and screaming to the rousing “Dirty Water” with arms raised in elation after every Red Sox home win.
The Yankees fans have created something much more amazing. They have found a way to inject themselves into the game itself. The ‘Roll Call’ has become legendary. In the top of the first inning while the Yankees are in the field, thousands of fans who are affectionately known as the ‘bleacher creatures’, led by ‘Bald Vinny’ start chanting the center fielders name. Let’s say Bernie Williams. They chant in unison until they get an acknowledgement of some kind from the player. They proceed around the diamond CF, RF, LF, 1B, 2B, SS, 3B and sometimes even get the catcher and pitcher involved. Usually it’s a quick wave or a maybe a subtle hat tip, but several players have been known to really embrace the legendary routine and have some fun with it. Brett Gardner, the Yankees regular center fielder or right fielder, would do a full body flex – dropping his shoulders while turning towards the chants and giving his best Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonation.
My personal favorite was by Nick Swisher, the Yankees clutch utility man who was their regular right fielder for four seasons, as he would turn and give a hard military salute for several seconds between pitches.
At Fenway, I have thoroughly enjoyed watching our very young & dynamic outfield make their diving catches, throw bullets to nail guys at the plate, and pelt the monster with line drives. One of my favorite parts of a Sox win was waiting to see which dance the three youngsters would perform. Although it grew a little stale later in the season, the “Ski Jump,” and the “Sprinkler” still brought a smile to my face. Hopefully the “Killer B’s” will only perform it at home this year, and maybe try to incorporate us – the fans. The Red Sox have done an excellent job allowing the players’ personalities to shine through, which has helped with marketing tremendously. The fact is, they have had some eccentric players with a bit of a psychotic edge, ie: Papelbon’s dancing jig in his spandex, Pedro throwing down Don Zimmer, Trot’s hardnose play, etc… But those are not fan-driven – at least not ON THE FIELD fan-driven.
Regardless, the dedication and longevity of Bald Vinny and the bleacher creatures who have effectively established this nuance within the game itself, is genius. It is brilliant because it has endured – for more than 20 years.
The hatred runs deep between both sets of fans. Passionate debate will always be a wonderful part of the summer, and all winter long for so many of us. Although it has ebbed a bit since the Sox have a three titles to one advantage in the last 14 seasons, this rivalry is the greatest in the history of sports. Who knows what 2018 will bring with that powerhouse of a lineup that the Evil Empire employs. However, one thing will always remain a constant – THE YANKEES (and their fans) SUCK!
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