“YOU AREN’T EVEN FROM BOSTON”
The jeers come from all directions… their faces twisted with hate and slathered in red war paint. Danica and I find our left-field seats and try to make friendly gestures to nearby Angels’ fans. Some of them aggressively slap tattoos of yellow haloed A’s and there are eyes rolled. October is here and it doesn’t feel so good.
I thought it great fortune to find myself in southern California for the ALDS this year. The tickets were easy to find and there was a certainty in the air that the Sox would once again steamroll the Angels, despite their lack of pep in September. My spirits were high, indeed.
The first thing you’ll notice when you visit Angel Stadium in Anaheim is how affordable everything is. The tickets, six rows behind the bullpens, were $40 apiece… and that was after the scalper got his buck. Parking is $10. Beer is $6! After being raped at Fenway time after time for crappy seats and uneven matchups, I thought I had stumbled upon some sort of baseball Valhalla.
There was no traffic as we approached the gates and found parking directly in front of a pair of giant red hats at the main gate. We had arrived a couple hours early in order to tailgate and spread the Red Sox cheer. But something was terribly wrong… the crowd was plodding towards the stadium, sans beer. The air was clear of charcoal smoke… not a hotdog anywhere! Then I nearly went blind: The back of our parking pass proclaimed in block letters, “NO CONSUMING OF ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES IN THE PARKING AREA.” “I’m frightened,” said Danica. I assured her it would be okay. I made up some excuse about Angels’ fans being way into BP… but underneath that steely façade, my knees quaked too.
Despite the home crowd’s blind acceptance of the rules, we were able to find a few Sox fans with whom we could slam our pregame six pack. They were transplants to San Diego and spent their days guarding the US boarder with Tijuana. It made perfect sense. Who else would you have protecting our country than a handful of cocky pricks from Southie. God Bless America. Danica and I drank while they all smoked whatever they had recently confiscated from a rusty El Camino before we parted ways. I was glad to have found some resemblance of sane baseball fans and the hollow feeling in my stomach had started to subside.
I travel a fair amount so whenever the Sox and me find ourselves in the same city, I must go cheer them on. I love seeing all the different ballparks and marveling over how comfortable the seats are. By far, the best part is witnessing the vastness of Red Sox Nation. Whether it is Baltimore, Cleveland, or Seattle… the Sox fans consistently outcheer (if they don’t outnumber) the home team. Being part of that family in a foreign city is exhilarating… unless, that is, if you happen to be in Anaheim.
In our section, I was the only one with a “B” on my hat that was cheering. Actually, we were sitting next to nice Japanese couple who didn’t speak English but Danica was able to encourage them into clapping once in a while. There were Sox fans everywhere… but they remain silent and it didn’t take long to find out why. The Angels’ fans delighted in starting fights with us, after which, security would target the Boston fans for starting trouble and kick them out. It happened time and time again. I had to hold Danica down one time when they started beaning her with peanuts. The Red Menace hit us with boom sticks… they clapped loudly near our ears… the showed yellow teeth whenever we glanced back. Good lord… this isn’t Valhalla, it is hell.
Needless to say, we didn’t stick around for the whole game, despite the delicious hot dogs and $6 beers. After things failed to materialize in the 6th, I thought it responsible to get the lady out of harm’s way and ‘beat traffic.’ I know, I know… pussy move. But if game 5 comes back west, you can believe that I won’t hold back. After this wholly crap-filled experience, I’m bringing the ruckus (It will be the second time that I get thrown out of a ballpark).
And in a way, I think that is how the Red Sox feel. They were pushed around in games 1 and 2… flying back east with their tail between their legs. The team has a fine mix of playoff experience and youthful hunger for wining which make the Angels nothing more than a catalyst this year. Between the horrible fans (I can’t believe they called Lester a fag during warm-ups… have you seen his girlfriend!?!? Plus, he beat cancer), the shitty calls, and the malevolent chip on Anaheim’s shoulder (Don’t tell me the Kazmir pickup wasn’t sold as a post-season Red Sox Killer), the Boston fire will ignite during games 3 and 4, burning hot and long all the way through October.