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enemy territory

Our Entirely Too Pleasant Visit to Fenway Park

On Friday, we wrote about expecting the worst as we prepared to visit Fenway Park for the first time the following day. We assumed that Yankee fans there were alternately pelted with batteries and bags of urine — that unlike at, say, Camden Yards, visiting fans were not made to feel welcome in Boston. We based this assumption partially on reputation and stories from friends, but also on how visiting fans are treated in the Bronx: sing-songy chants of obscenities as fans wearing the wrong hat walk to their seats, sophomoric and homophobic lyric changes during "YMCA," and things like that. (We once saw a Yankees fan drop his pants and moon a Cubs fan during inter-league play.) So yeah, we were prepared for anything. As it turns out, unnecessarily so.

Perhaps because there were far more Yankees fans in attendance than we expected, or perhaps because the Red Sox fans within earshot were too busy insulting their own team to worry about us, we couldn't believe how nice everyone was to us. Other than a couple of folks who, with a wink, said things along the lines of, "Uh-oh, Yankee fans!" not a single Sox fan directed a mean-spirited word at us the entire afternoon. It was bizarre.

It's not like no one noticed us: We chatted with a thick-accented gentleman in front of us about CC Sabathia's usefulness should a brawl break out on the field — Sabathia's size, he argued, only meant he'd fall "haahr-dah" — and a guy behind us asked with legitimate curiosity about the extent of Jorge Posada's injury.

But other than some brief chants of "Yankees suck" during the rain delay — started on the concourse to counter the brazen Yankee fans' chants of "Boston sucks" — we heard exactly one semi-insulting line delivered all day, and that was aimed at a Yankees fan wearing plaid bottoms who really had the shout of "Nice pants, asshole" coming to him.

Even the Fenway employees confused us with their friendly ways. The photo you see above was taken about 40 minutes before the game. Rest assured, that photo was not taken from our seats. We were sitting in the center-field bleachers, so we walked around the stadium to get a better view of the Green Monster. We stopped for a second in an aisle to take a photo — there weren't many people around — when an usher noticed and insisted we walk down into the box seats, all the way to the first row, to get a better view. Needless to say, if we attempted to jump the Yankee Stadium moat and walk to this same spot in the Bronx holding only a bleacher ticket, Homeland Security would have been notified.

Maybe we just picked a good day to go — as was suggested in the comments on Friday, lots of Sox diehards surely sold their Saturday-afternoon Yankees tickets for profit — and it didn't hurt that by the time the game ended with a 14-3 Yankees victory, after a rain delay and a couple of innings played in a steady drizzle, most everyone else had already gone home. But between the beach ball that had bounced around the bleachers earlier in the day, the wave that had circled the stadium, and the downright polite fans we encountered, we hereby declare Red Sox Nation nothing to be intimidated by — pending any future visits, of course.

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Photo: Joe DeLessio