Newsflash: People care about baseball around these parts.
The Boston Red Sox kick off a three-game series Tuesday against their longtime rivals, the New York Yankees. But that rivalry isn’t contained to the diamond: Boston and New York both boast extremely passionate fanbases and scrutinizing local media, ranking them among the most pressure-filled environments in baseball.
Since this is a rivalry, though, we need to know: Which city has more intense fans?
USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale posed that question to several former players who suited up for both the Red Sox and Yankees, and the answer appeared to be unanimous.
“I played in Chicago, New York and Boston, and whoa, Beantown was the roughest,” ex-outfielder Mike Cameron told Nightengale. “I saw Big Papi (David Ortiz) almost get run out of town. I saw them boo Pedro (Martinez), too. You’ve got to have some pretty thick skin because you’re going to get booed no matter who you are.”
Johnny Damon, who won World Series titles on both sides of the rivalry, used an apt example to explain the cities’ differences.
“Both of those cities could be rough, but I would not go out if I was struggling in Boston, no way,” Damon said. “In Boston, you feel like you’re in everybody’s living room each night while they’re having dinner. You don’t feel that way in New York.”
In fact, veteran Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia believes New Yorkers’ reputation as an ornery bunch is a bit overblown.
“People get freaked out when they first get here, but once you’re here, you find out New York is an easy place to play,” Sabathia said.
That may be an overstatement, but as Rick Porcello alluded to this spring, playing in Boston has its benefits for those who embrace their surroundings.
“If you have a bad game, don’t put it on the weather, the umpires, or other players,” Los Angeles Dodgers starter and Boston native Rich Hill told Nightengale. “And don’t run and hide after a bad game. If you stand up, people appreciate it. If you’re not, you’re going to be whipped by the pen.
“Everything in Boston is magnified, and that’s OK. It’s what makes Boston great.”
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