New York Yankees

Yankees come first, even in city under siege

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 August, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 August, 2004, 12:00am

It stands to reason then that the shell-shocked people of New York City would be scurrying about in a paranoid fit this week. The government raised the terror alert at several financial institutions, including the New York Stock Exchange, on the strength of intelligence stating the possibility of an al-Qaeda attack.

Clearly, this is scary stuff. Or maybe not. A day after the alert was issued a number of people in the New York area were incensed and accused the Bush administration of playing politics by instilling fear in its citizenry.

Homeland security chief Tom Ridge was enraged that anyone could doubt his group's motives even though he crowed about 'the president's leadership in the war against terror' when he announced the raising of the terror alert.

Me, I don't know what to think because I'm merely passing through and no trip to Manhattan this week would be complete without a visit to Wall Street and the Stock Exchange if for no other reason than to taste the fear.

So I buy myself a beef knish, grab the morning paper and set up shop across the street from the exchange where Wall Street is buzzing but not with brokers. There are more tourists than the eye can process.

They are taking up-close-and-personal pictures of the fortified Stock Exchange while snapping shots of police dogs. They even pose in front of the heavily armed Robo-Cop types. Nobody really seems afraid, not here or anywhere else in the city for that matter.

I'm leafing through The New York Times when I come across an editorial written by Bruce Springsteen. Apparently the Boss is joining forces with the likes of REM, the Dixie Chicks, John Mellencamp and Pearl Jam to tour the US in October under the umbrella of a new group called Vote for Change.

'Our American government has strayed too far from American values,' writes the Boss. 'It is time to move forward.'

Hmm, well you know what the president said a few years back about his war on terror: you're either with us or you're against us. Springsteen is clearly against him. So do you think the Boss will get Dixie-Chicked?

Will patriotically numb deejays refuse to play his songs and will he be booed off the stage like Linda Ronstadt wherever he plays? There's only one way to find out. I have to go a Yankees game because whenever you need to measure the pulse of the people in New York City, there is nowhere better than Yankee Stadium.

As you roll out of the subway at 161 Street it's there before you: the Sistine Chapel of American sport. But it's more than the most famous sports stadium in the United States.

It's the soul of New York City and on this Friday night the woeful Toronto Blue Jays will be playing the Christians to the Yankees' lions.

There are 50,000 people in the stadium. Not even an orange alert could keep them home. There is a sign above the entrance at gate two that states no fans who are inebriated will be allowed entrance. And yet when captain Derek Jeter leads the Yankees on to the field at 7.05pm sharp, there is a distinctly boozy revelry in my section. 'Yo DJ, bury them Boids!' comes a cry from two seats over.

In the top of the first inning the Jays have two runners on when the placid and likeable first baseman Carlos Delgado comes to the plate and immediately the boos start raining down on him.

Because Delgado has publicly stated his disapproval to the war in Iraq and refused to come out of the dugout and stand at attention for the playing of God Bless America during the seventh-inning stretch, he has become a lightning rod for hate in many American parks.

The boos haven't even stopped when Delgado swings at the first pitch and hits a three-run homer. But the Yankees Japanese star Hideki Matsui hits two homers of his own and his team proceeds to throttle the Jays.

During the seventh inning stretch, Delgado is the only player who stays in the dugout and is booed because of it. In the eighth inning, John Mellencamp's Pink Houses is played on the PA and nobody bothers to boo one of the lead musicians from the supposedly unpatriotic upcoming Vote for Change tour.

They don't play any Springsteen tonight but they will soon enough because nobody's songs grace the PA system at Yankees stadium more than the Boss'.

Around these parts, he's more popular that the president. He's even more popular than Jeter and he has no fear of any backlash towards him.

But me, I do have some fear here in New York City. I'm just not sure what I fear most these days.

Join Tim Noonan this Thursday at 10am to discuss all things sporting in On the Spot. Tim will return to his regular 10am slot next Wednesday.