That was the soundtrack to my Friday evening, at Shea Stadium for the second game of Yankees-Mets doubleheader. (In a rare event brought about by an earlier rain-out, the first game was played at Yankee Stadium, and the nightcap was at Shea.) The fans in our section were about 60-40 Mets-to-Yankees fans, with me sitting it out in my S.F. Giants cap. It was an entertaining place to be, though, as the Yankees fans would chant “Let’s-Go-Yankees!” and the Mets fan would instantly retort with “Yankees-Suck!” There was something poignant about this song of opposition: they were “singing” the same tune, and each side would dutifully wait for the other to finish their part.
The game started out evenly, with each group of fans getting their chance to make rude gestures and flaunt their team jerseys at the others, but the Yanks took control in the fourth inning, and ended up winning in a rout, nine-zip. Actually, it was when the game got out of the hand that the fans did too, and what seemed good-natured at first started to turn ugly. Groups of young men from each side got louder and more raucous, and security came by a couple of times to make sure things didn’t get violent.
As a fairly rabid Giants fan, I don’t have a problem with loudly rooting for your team, but there is something odd about this kind of intra-city rivalry. Unlike San Francisco and Oakland, two separate cities; or the North Side Cubs fans and South Side White Sox partisans; Yankees and Mets fans seem to split up much more raggedly once you get beyond the borders of the Bronx and Queens. For instance, in my experience, it seems like most Brooklynites favor the Mets, while those from Manhattan and Staten Island are Yankees lovers. Come to think of it, there definitely seems to be a class thing in evidence: Yankees fans proliferate in the Jersey suburbs and Westchester. It’s weird taking the train to Yankees games, with all those beefy Italian-American kids in Yankees jerseys and caps — who ever sees anyone like that in New York anymore? My assumption is they’re a bridge-and-tunnel crowd.
So maybe what was going on in our section Friday night was not so much a baseball rivalry as the first blow of a full-fledged class war?