10/13/2003 7:55 PM ET
Yankees fans make nice
BOSTON -- In a perfect world, the bizarre events of Game 3 of this year's American League Championship Series would be forgotten two days later.
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
The ages-old baseball hatred between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, which served as one of the main reasons for Saturday evening's Fenway fracas, would cease to exist.
In its place would be a glorious mutual respect centered around brilliantly played ball.
Red Sox fans wouldn't be afraid to hug -- or even speak to -- Yankees fans in public.
Anthems of kinship like "Kumbaya" and "We Are The World" would boom through the loudspeakers of Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium forever.
OK, so this is not even close to reality.
And the bench-clearing incidents and bullpen brouhaha of Saturday poured more lighter fluid on this already-smoldering Duraflame of a rivalry.
But not all fans feel this way, and on Monday before Game 4, some Yankees fans were willing to admit that not everything about Boston is bad.
They all added that it's not as good as New York, of course, but when you're striving for peace for mankind, you have to start somewhere.
"It's a beautiful city and a beautiful ballpark," said Dave Shanerman, from Long Island, N.Y., who was spending his first night at Fenway. "The minute I walked in, I said, 'Oh my God.' And the Red Sox have a lot of talent, no doubt. They're hitters, but they're not winners."
Dave's dad, Mort, who came up from Bayside, in Queens, took his non-hatred for the Red Sox another step.
"If they knock off the Yankees," Mort said, "I'll root for them.
"I'm an American League fan and I always root for my league. If they win the World Series, it'll show that the Yankees were a tough battle for them."
Fair enough, but what about 1986, when the Red Sox lost the Series to the New York Mets, who are also notorious enemies of the Yankees? Did he root for the Sox then, too?
"You better believe it," Mort said. "I hate the Mets."
Down by the expensive seats a few rows off the field along the third-base line sat Pete Lewis, a salesman from Hollis, N.H., who grew up in Westfield, N.J.
Lewis said he's a member of a nine-man season-ticket syndicate that has been attending games at Fenway for the last 26 years -- always with a Yankees cap on.
He said it would be tough to survive all that time if there wasn't a sort of underrated understanding between the two sides.
"Most people are nice to me," Lewis said. "I think they respect the fact that I'm loyal to my roots, even if they're gonna throw beer at me."
Lewis saw most of Boston's games this year, so it's not surprising that he had more complimentary things to say about the Sox than most Yankees fans in attendance.
"They're having a great year," Lewis said. "You have to give them credit. They hit the (heck) out of the ball, their ownership has done a great job, and (Boston general manager Theo) Epstein has put together quite a team with those acquisitions of (David) Ortiz, (Bill) Mueller and (Kevin) Millar.
"But that doesn't mean I don't want them to choke to the Yankees."
Figuring it might be easiest to get a nice word out of one of the younger fans in the house, the next person visited was 12-year-old Patrick Martell, a Yankees fan from Westford, Mass., waiting for Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter to sign his book.
When asked if there was anything he liked about Boston, he first shook his head, then corrected himself.
"Their haircuts aren't bad," he said. "And Manny's OK."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This column was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.