Yanks fans divided on Cubs-Dodgers
With two teams having pinstripe flavor, Bombers fans torn
NEW YORK -- Along the avenue that borders the bleacher entrances to Yankee Stadium, the souvenir shops remained shuttered on Tuesday, as did most of the bars and restaurants. There will be no baseball in the Bronx until next year, and none left in this 85-year-old facility.
But two figures near and dear to Yankees' fans hearts will take their teams head-to-head in the National League Division Series, as Joe Torre's Dodgers and Lou Piniella's Cubs prepare to open their best-of-five series on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. ET on TBS at Wrigley Field.
"I'm rooting for Torre. I'll always root for him, no matter what," said Jason Cardona, a 33-year-old Yankees fan from the Bronx. "[Piniella] wasn't like Joe Torre. He never won the World Series four times.
"I'll root for Torre and hope he takes the Dodgers all the way to the World Series and beats whoever. He's the best manager ever, and there's no one like him."
Pat Bostonia of Wayne, N.J., was more conflicted. A season-ticket holder who estimated she attended more than 1,000 Yankees home games since the late 1970s, Bostonia, 49, was not sure who she'd prefer to see move on to the NL Championship Series.
But she was happy to see Torre land on his feet in the more laid-back setting of Southern California, after rejecting the Yankees' one-year, incentive-laden contract offer last Oct. 18.
"He's a great manager and a great guy, and I say good for him," Bostonia said. "I don't wish him any harm. To tell you the truth, if [the Yankees] aren't in, it just doesn't mean anything to me. I do wish him the best.
"But I'm also a big fan of Lou Piniella. I'm not watching anything. I'm going to go home and put my head in a corner. Lou's a real doll, kicking the dirt and everything. I love them both."
Miriam Pinto, who drove to Yankee Stadium from Springfield, Mass., to say goodbye to the old place one last time, said the Dodgers-Cubs series would probably draw her in only because of the 68-year-old man filling out Los Angeles' lineup cards.
"I'll probably flip back and forth on them, but to see Joe Torre sitting there, I think that's a good thing," Pinto said. "I'm upset the Yankees aren't there, but Joe Torre deserves it. I think [the Yankees] let him go in the wrong way."
"I was glad that he left for somewhere else," added Savino Stallone, 54, who made the drive from Stormville, N.Y., with his daughter, Jennifer, and son, Joseph.
"He took them so far and gave them so many opportunities. How could they let him go like that? The guy brought them championships. The Yankees lost a lot, and I'm glad for the guy."
Steve Lombardi, who operates the Yankees fan site WasWatching.com -- a play on Phil Rizzuto's old scorecard trick of writing "WW" for plays he'd missed -- plans to watch the NLDS closely, believing that the winner may very well go on to win the NL pennant.
Lombardi said that despite the pull of Torre and coach Don Mattingly, who could get a World Series ring if Los Angeles goes all the way, he will be rooting for the Cubs to move on to the next rounds.
"I want to see the Cubs win it all because I believe that gives Lou Piniella an excellent shot at making Cooperstown as a manager," Lombardi wrote in an e-mail.
"Lou won 90 games with the Yankees [in 1986]. He won a ring with the 1990 Reds. His teams in Seattle made the postseason and once won 116 games in a season. Bringing the Cubs their first ring in a century would be the icing on the cake for Lou's resume -- and one that Cooperstown could not ignore."
Further complicating the issue, on some level, is the makeup of the Dodgers' roster. While Torre, Mattingly and -- to a lesser extent -- Dodgers third-base coach Larry Bowa and reliever Scott Proctor lend a Yankees flavor, the Red Sox are especially well represented.
Manny Ramirez hit .396 in 53 games after joining Los Angeles and changed the clubhouse culture of a team that also features Derek Lowe and Nomar Garciaparra, three frequent thorns in the Yankees' sides.
"Those are former Boston Red Sox players and I'm not too friendly with them," Cardona said. "Like Jorge Posada said on [the YES Network program] 'CenterStage,' he can't stand the Red Sox. I don't blame him. I'll always be a Yankees fan, no matter what."
"It's very strange, but let me tell you -- since Manny left Boston, I'm a Manny fan now," Pinto added. "He's just got to cut his hair, that's it."
Robert Anderson, 45, made the trip to Yankee Stadium from Brooklyn, N.Y., on Tuesday, hoping as much for autographs -- Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain stopped and signed for most -- as to spend a little more time at his favorite stadium.
Saying that "there are a lot of memories in this place," Anderson said his interests would be with the man who steered his club during the most recent dynasty seasons.
"I'm pulling for him," Anderson said. "I'll go for the Dodgers. You've got Torre, Mattingly, Bowa. I'll watch it, but it will never be the same because we're not in it."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.