Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Guest column: Change will do you good

My friend Jerry, a magazine editor and former Globie, always seems to get the good tickets - he's like the Forrest Gump of must-see Red Sox games.

Not only was he one of the 33,702 lucky loyalists to be in the house for yesterday's 86-years-in-the-making celebration, but he was also in the crowd the moment the Red Sox's emancipation began: July 24, 2004, the day Jason Varitek gave A-Rod the leatherface treatment and the Sox set a hip new trend by rallying to beat Mariano Rivera. You're damn right I'm jealous.

While being fortunate enough to have the inside and up-close view of these transcendent games, Jerry has also put his reporter's eye to good use, observing some subtler changes as the tide has turned in the Sox/Yankees rivalry.

Here's a short, insightful piece he sent me on the subject. Enjoy it, and remember: Beating the beejeepers out of Yankee fans is not a right. It's a privilege. - CF

By Jerry Fraser

What a difference a world championship makes. Last July 24’s flood-delayed game between the Red Sox and Yankees was, in the grandstands, about as mean as it could get.

The place rocked to the beat of "Yankees suck," and cops dragged ugly drunks down every aisle.

The brawl between A-Rod and Jason Varitek did nothing to lighten the mood. I’ve heard a lot of fans, most of whom probably weren’t at the game, say a new Red Sox psyche emerged from the dustup, but I’m not sure.

The mood at Fenway remained as dark and bitter as the sky, if the catfight between a blonde and a J-Lo look-alike in the bleachers in right, both sporting their team’s colors, was any indication, and the Yankees’ six-run sixth inning didn’t help. Neither did Ramiro Mendoza’s sterling performance in the eighth and ninth.

There was genuine joy in Mudville when Bill Mueller’s winning ninth-inning home run whistled into the stands, but there was an air of uncertain vindication as well.

I was back at Fenway yesterday for the opening day ceremony, washed in the bright sunshine that lay in right throughout the afternoon, and it was a different place ... a park, not a ring.

Everyone, it seemed, from Derek Lowe and Dave Roberts to the Yankee fans who peppered the stands, much less ado about their colors, seemed happy to be there.

Red Sox Nation was a land of winners. It turns out, as your mother may have told you, that nothing succeeds like success.

"We Believe" may have emerged from the ugliness of July 24, but yesterday it was, "We Are."