That’s KP holding a ball she caught on top of the Green Monster in 2004.
Who’s KP, you ask? She’s my friend and the very talented woman who designs and manages my web site. She also happens to be a diehard Red Sox fan, born and raised in MA and living in CA like me. We give each other benign little jabs about our rival teams, but we’ve avoided any name calling or hair pulling.
We were working on a site update today when I started asking her about the Sox and how she first became a fan. I also wanted the answer to the burning question: What’s up with all the Yankee hate?
Here’s my interrogation. I hope she’s still speaking to me afterwards.
She-Fan: Let’s get right down to it. Have you always hated the Yankees?
KP: “Hate” is such a strong word. I’ve always despised them. (Laughter) It’s probably more about the fans – they’re so pompous with their “we’re better than you” attitude. The team itself was easy to hate since it seemed like they always stood in our way, but the 2004 championship took care of that.
She-Fan: How did you stand being around the Yankees when you lived and worked in NY?
KP: It was hard. My first year there coincided with the Yankees’ winning years of the ’90s. I had to take Metro-North past the Stadium every day. I went to a Yankees-Orioles game, and it was Yankee umbrella night. I still have the umbrella. I feel good knowing that whenever it rains, it rains on the Yankees.
She-Fan: That’s so wrong. Is there one Yankee in particular that you loathe?
KP: Could I hate Bucky freakin’ Dent? Can’t blame him for our team’s collapse. Aaron Boone? After that game I accidentally ripped the passenger side mirror off my car. Does Jeter ever do anything that’s not incredible? Yawn. I have this irrational thing about how Mussina bends and rolls up his body before a pitch. And I’d appreciate it if Joba could stop throwing at Kevin Youkilis’ head. Oh, and I have a framed photo of Varitek’s glove in A-Rod’s grill. It was a gift from my dad.
She-Fan: Is there a Yankee you grudgingly respect?
KP: I really liked Joe Torre. Still do. And Mariano Rivera. Hall of Famer. Good sense of humor.
She-Fan: Do you think Varitek will re-up?
KP: The Sox recognize what he brings to the team, but they want him at a discount. So if he’s willing and the market plays out, he’ll re-sign. I’d support that happening so they can use the funds to bring in a catcher of the very near future.
She-Fan: Were you disappointed that the Sox didn’t sign Teixeira?
KP: I didn’t covet him, so I’m not disappointed. I figured he’d go to the Yankees. I just didn’t figure they’d spring for everyone else too! Are there a few extra bucks in the bank for Manny?
She-Fan: Glad you brought him up. Do you miss him?
KP: I miss watching his incredible ability, but I don’t miss feeling “played” by him and his agent.
She-Fan: Who’s your favorite Sox player?
KP: I loved Carlton Fisk and Eck and Mike Greenwell. I have Dwight Evans’ autograph. I was a Nomar girl. While I admit to rooting for Clemens back in the day, he wasn’t my favorite pitcher; it was Bruce Hurst. I love Papi. I love everything that Jon Lester stands for. Papelbon and Pedroia are just flat out entertaining. But right now, I would love to have a beer with Mike Lowell.
She-Fan: Have you always been into sports?
KP: Sports were all around when I was growing up. My cousin was a Patriots cheerleader, so we watched all their games. And the Bruins were so hot in the ’70s. I had a sweet teddy bear with a Bruins shirt and a Bobby Orr pin.
She-Fan: What’s your earliest memory of the Sox?
KP: Before there were seat belt laws, people had no problem with an eight-year-old stuffed in the storage area of a two-seater. I vividly remember being in the hatchback of my dad’s Datsun 280-Z in the fall of 1978 listening to a game. In 1986, he took me to Game 3 of the World Series, which was the coolest thing ever for a high school girl.
She-Fan: Do you remember your first impression of Fenway?
KP: I can’t tell you who we played or even what year it was. I can tell you it was breathtaking to climb the ramp and see all the green unfold in front of you. It’s one of the most striking differences between Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium. At Yankee Stadium you descend into the park, but at Fenway you ascend.
She-Fan: How would you assess the state of the Red Sox going into ’09? Do you approve of the moves Theo has made?
KP: It depends on everyone’s off-season rehabs. How’s Papi’s wrist? How’s Mike Lowell feeling? How’s Beckett? Penny? Baldelli? Smoltz? Smoltz is a good veteran presence. Baldelli and Kotsay strengthen the reserves. Penny is low risk/high reward. Theo and crew operate with extreme flexibility. If you’re flexible, it’s easier to turn the boat when things aren’t going in the right direction.
She-Fan: What’s your prediction for the AL East?
: With all the talent you have, the Yankees should win the division. On paper, the Red Sox can certainly be as good as last year but it comes down to injuries and rehab. Tampa will either be blissfully ignorant of their achievement and challenge the Sox/Yankees, or they’ll press too hard to duplicate and struggle. Toronto was supposed to be a challenger in ’08, but can they pull it together? And poor Baltimore.
She-Fan: One last question. Can you understand why fans of other teams think the whole “Red Sox Nation” thing is a little over the top?
KP: Over the top? Ha ha. This from the sainted Yankee Universe?
She-Fan: (To self) Uh-oh.
KP: Give credit where credit is due. The new ownership has done wonders marketing this team – from the “idiots” of ’04 to Remy as president of Red Sox Nation. Surely, you understand this. You’ve had a Reggie bar, haven’t you?
She-Fan: No, but go on.
KP: I like the term. I like what it stands for. And I like being part of what’s referred to in our household as “my people.” I like going to my local watering hole to watch a game with my fellow citizens and feeling a little closer to home, even though I’m over 2500 miles away.
She-Fan: Oh. (Long pause) Well, I guess I do understand now. It’s hard being a Yankee fan in California too.
And that’s when it hit me. The emptiness in the pit of my stomach. The ache. The void.
I want “my people.” I want a watering hole where I can watch Yankees games with my fellow citizens and feel closer to home. I want a group to chant with and boo with and sing “New York, New York” with. What I guess I’m saying is I want a Yankee Universe to join.