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Enemy Territory

How to survive the Yankees fan’s ultimate trial: A trip to Fenway.

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Red Sox fans prove their mettle every year by believing in sport’s most storied losers. For Yankees fans, the test is a little different: enduring a game at Fenway.

As a Massachusetts-reared New Yorker who’s cheered on both sides of the base paths, I should know. The Red Sox lost me in 1986, when a ball dribbled between Bill Buckner’s feet. The Yankees found me in 1996, when it dawned on me: Rooting for a winning team is fun! I smothered the guilt under a pile of NY SCRUNCHIES, a Jeter jersey, and a vanity YANQUIS license plate. For an extra twist, I started dating a Red Sox fan last summer. Game 7 wasn’t easy; for our future’s sake, I’ll leave it at that.

This weekend, the two teams meet at Fenway Park for the first time this season. Many visits have taught me that Sox fans can be super-sore losers. Sure, security is more stringent than in the days when Boston fans threw lit firecrackers back and forth, but they’ve just traded actual explosives for verbal ones. It’s not uncommon for an entire seating section to heckle a Yankees family for the full nine innings. I once left my sisters in the bleachers in the bottom of the fourth and drove home because of the drunk, loud, and lumpy meatball next to me, who spewed Miller High Life spitlets every time I reacted to Yankee dominance.

It bears mentioning that that was in the cheap seats, which offer an incredibly authentic blue-collar Boston experience—and hence are inhospitable to New Yorkers. (Also avoid the seats atop the Green Monster—it’s nearly four stories down.) In general, the more money you spend, the more good-natured the rivalry will be (especially in the no-alcohol family area, left-field sections 32 and 33). With just 33,871 seats, Fenway has already sold out all Yankees games this season—though tickets are available, at well over face value, through RedSoxTix.com (eBay and craigslist.org for both Boston and New York are also worth trying).

Blending in is wise inside the park: This is no occasion for face-painting or donning the red-white-and-blue felt top hat. Wearing my scrunchie is as supportive as I get in Fenway. (Short hair? Try Yankees wristbands or ankle socks.) After the game, don’t follow the pack to Who’s On First? on Yawkey Way: It will likely contain at least three generations of Yankee haters. The nearby Cask ’n Flagon might be okay before the game but probably not after (especially when the Yankees win). In fact, it’s wise to get away from the throngs in Kenmore Square completely. Take the T’s Green Line inbound to Back Bay or Faneuil Hall—tourists aren’t starved for a blood-soaked Bombers T-shirt. Or walk to the nearby Hotel Commonwealth, which has a plasma screen in the bar.

The Yankees themselves have been known to stay at the Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common. Across the Common and the Public Garden at the original Ritz-Carlton, Boston, concierge and Yankees fan Thomas O’Connor is a good source of advice. Another pinstriped beacon is Mike Pagliarulo, who played third base for the Yankees from 1984 to 1989. He owns Faneuil Hall’s the Rack, a vast upscale billiards club with a “Girls Gone Wild” flavor (how else to attract the pro ballplayers who go there?).

Of course, even with the best planning, there are bound to be moments of tension. In that case, try to find common ground. Here’s what works with my loved ones: discussing how it feels to be betrayed by Roger Clemens.


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