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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

In Their Own Way, Even New Yorkers Can Be Civil

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Sure, the Brewers have home-and-home "rivalry" series with Minnesota every year, and the Cubs and White Sox battle for the championship of Chicago, whatever that's worth. But in baseball's interleague play, nothing matches the grandeur of the "Subway Series" between the Yankees and Mets. Just ask a New Yorker, and be ready for ridicule if you disagree.

While the Brewers' miserable May continued in Minneapolis, Frank was on hand as his Yankees invaded Queens.
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Artie:
So how much b­lood gushed in the stands Saturday night at Citi Field?

Frank:
Not a drop that I saw. There may have been a few polite disagreements, but I saw no evidence of fights. It made me think the image of the Subway Series as Armageddon combat might be a bit overblown.

Artie:
New Yorkers overestimating their importance? Sounds impossible.

Frank:
Not that there wasn't an extra intensity. The Mets have declined on the field and in attendance, so I'd say the crowd was about 50% Yankee fans.

Artie:
Kinda like when the Cubs play at Miller Park?

Frank:
Yeah, but with a little more "direct discourse" between the factions. The chant of "Let's Go Yankees" popped up all night, but always countered quickly by "Yankees Suck!"

Artie:
Not the kind of thing we usually hear under our friendly retractable roof.

Frank:
I'd say not. The only time the Cub and Brewer fans really go head-to-head is during the seventh-inning stretch, to determine whether it's "root, root, root" for the Brewers or Cubbies.

Artie:
A contest the Flatlanders have won all too often, ain'a?

Frank:
So yeah, there was an edge to the game, which sadly the Yankees lost, 5-3. But from what I could see and hear on the first level down the right-field line, the fans were friendly rivals. New Yorkers enjoy the stereotype that they're tougher than other folks, take no guff from anyone. But most of us are just regular guys and gals.

Artie:
This is disappointing. I thought "Noo Yawkers" duked it out every day just to get on and off the subways.

Frank:
I saw several pairs of folks who looked like brothers or sisters, one wearing a Jeter or A-Rod shirt and the other in Mets gear.

Artie:
Lots of Marvelous Marv Throneberry throwback jerseys?

Frank:
More like David Wright; Marv doesn't evoke a very marvelous time in Mets history. Anyway, on my way out I saw no angry confrontations. Everyone looked like they just wanted to get home—understandable, since the game took more than 3 1/2 hours.

Artie:
Hardly unusual. I noticed the Yankee win on Friday night—by the massive score of 2-1—took 3:19.

Frank:
We'll spare our readers—for now—the usual ranting about how baseball could and should be speeded up. I suppose if the cast of "Jersey Shore," or people like them, were at the game, there was some foul-mouthed finger-pointing. But anyone expecting battles in the stands needed to look for a foreign soccer game.

Artie:
Same as at Brewer-Cub games. We're pretty friendly hosts in the Heartland.

Frank:
But it wasn't always that way, remember? Back when the Brew Crew was in the American League, games with the White Sox at County Stadium would spark fights in the crowd.

Artie:
Absolutely. I remember some games like that against Detroit, too, in the late '70s. A lot of their fans seemed to sit in the lower grandstand on the third-base side. One night I was sitting nearby and saw two fistfights, and that wasn't the only time.

Frank:
Met fans always resent the mighty Yankees, and they sure enjoyed winning the last two games of the series. The tying run was aboard when each game ended, so the ninth innings were mighty loud. But overall it wasn't what I'd call a World Series atmosphere.

Artie:
Gee, that describes the baseball scene around here. I was mighty glad the Brewers won that second game in Pittsburgh because it kept them from a 10-game losing streak. Remember how George Webb's gave out burgers when the Crew opened 1987 with 13 wins? I was afraid if they lost in double digits Webb's would grab me off the street, hand me a hair net and apron and make me flip burgers for a day.

Frank:
If nothing else, a few more losses will have the Brewers hearing some un-civil comments from the patrons at Miller Park.

 

BRETT'S ANKLE ANGLE


Frank:
The latest bit of Brett Favre melodrama is his announcement that he's had ankle surgery. That presumably clears him to play again, as we assume he will.

Artie:
Just like last year's arm repair. And just like last year, he would have needed the surgery even if he didn't play, so why didn't he have it two months ago? It's pretty obvious he's giving himself another excuse to avoid training camp, or at least part of it.

Frank:
Not that it matters to the Vikings. Tony Kornheiser had a good line recently on ESPN: "Brett Favre wants to play, and he wants to be begged to play." And Brad Childress is just the guy to do the begging.

Artie:
He sure did it last year.

Frank:
And it worked out fine for them, right up to Favre's disastrous final throw in the NFC Championship Game.

Artie:
Say, the 2010 NFL schedules are out, and guess what I've found? Just like last year, after Nov. 1 the Vikings have only ONE cold-weather game, in December at Philly.

Frank:
So the NFL wants Brett warm and safe so he can get to Super Bowl.

Artie:
It's so obvious the Packers should sue the league.

Frank:
Let's analyze the schedule, starting with a comparison of the opponents both teams will face. There'll be six games within the division, and both teams will play the NFC East—Eagles, Redskins, Cowboys and Giants. And they'll also play the AFC East—Patriots, Dolphins, Jets and Bills.

Artie:
Some pretty tough games in there, at least on paper.

Frank:
The only differences are that the Vikings play New Orleans and Arizona while the Packers play San Francisco and Atlanta. The Vikes seem to have it tougher there.

Artie:
But I'm not talking about who they play; it's where and when they play 'em. You know how Brett can't take that cold weather.

Frank:
OK, now we look at November and December.

Artie:
Let's start with Sunday, Nov. 21, the Thanksgiving-ish time when the weather can get crummy.

Frank:
So this is over the final seven games. On Nov. 21 Favre plays the Packers in the warm and cozy Metrodome. Then he goes to Washington...

Artie:
Which is really a Southern city. Chances are things won't be too tough on him there.

Frank:
Then the Vikings play Buffalo... but at home. Then the Giants... but at home. Then the Bears... but at home.

Artie:
I rest my case.

Frank:
They do have to play at Philly on Dec. 26 but then finish up at Detroit, which is an indoor game.

Artie:
Now for the Packers. Yeah, they finish November with indoor games at Minnesota and Atlanta, but in December they're at Lambeau Field three times and at New England.

Frank:
Remember, though, Favre had a couple of lousy games last December at Arizona and Carolina, where it wasn't cold.

Artie:
Hey, the NFL can't do anything about his getting worn down. But it can do something about his comfort, and they're doing it!

Frank:
That's your story and you're stickin' to it.

Artie:
Hey, didn't they change the rules on overtime in the playoffs because Brett didn't get a chance in OT against New Orleans?

Frank:
Well, they did change 'em so that a field goal on the first possession won't end a playoff game. Coincidence? You think not.

Artie:
What Brett needed in the NFC title game was a rule saying, "There shall be no interceptions allowed on stupid throws by a quarterback from Mississippi."