The Failure of Yankees Fans (and Mets Fans Too)

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I took the family to last night’s Yankees-Mets game at the new Citi Field. We had a great time despite the very late hour. (More on that later.) This was the final game of the season between the crosstown rivals. Interleague play means that lots of away-team fans are present in home-team stadiums, and that was very much the case last night — a scenario that produced at least one interesting result that would disappoint anyone who thinks that game theory always prevails.

First, a few background observations:

1. Having now taken the family to the new Yankee Stadium and the Mets’ new ballpark, I find it hard to believe that any neutral observer wouldn’t agree that Citi Field is a far, far more pleasant place to spend a few hours. It is well-designed and handsome, and fan-friendly in many ways that Yankee Stadium is not. Yankee Stadium is full of pride and tradition and all that, but it is essentially a vast concrete bowl with chairs. Fill in your own blanks: Citi is to Yankee as ______ is to ______. (What comes to my mind is Google is to Microsoft.)

2. We bought our tickets on StubHub and paid a monstrous premium because of the premium lure: the last Yankees-Mets game of the season, on a Sunday, at a family-friendly 1:00 p.m. Within 24 hours of having bought the tickets, the game was changed to 8:00 p.m. for an ESPN broadcast. Not much to do but ply the kids with coffee all day long in hopes they’d make it to the end — which, being a Yankees-Mets game, would surely be late. And it was … but they made it.

Now, here’s what I really wanted to write about. Because interleague play puts fans from two teams in close proximity, you can expect a lot of fan interaction. In the section where we sat — right above the Modell’s sign in right field — the yapping between Yankees and Mets was loud but generally friendly.

A pattern quickly emerged. The many Yankees fans regularly broke into their thunderous cheer: “Let’s go Yankees!” (clap-clap-clap-clap … clap-clap). If you are a Yankees fan (we are; but we do not hate the Mets), this was a sign of what might be called prideful hubris, or maybe hubristic pride: we can come into your stadium and rock it very, very hard.

How’d the Mets fans respond? Succinctly. In the space where the Yankees fans did their rhythmic clapping, Mets fans shouted “Yankees suck!”

The first 13 times or so, this was pretty funny. The two cheers fitted together nicely, like a married couple who know their comebacks well. Yes, we told the kids, it’s too bad “suck” is so commonplace and yes, it’s too bad the Mets fans can’t come up with something more clever or (God forbid) more positive, but hey …

This pattern was repeated all night. What surprised me is that neither side found a way to improve their effort. I kept waiting for the Yankees fans to fill in their clapping with some chanting that couldn’t be hijacked by the Mets fans, and I kept waiting for the Mets fans to either be proactive in their chanting or to move beyond “Yankees suck!” But neither side budged. By the end of the game, the only people chanting were the kids in the stands, all of them up way past their bedtimes, their voices ragged and high-pitched.

I fear not that we are teaching our children to be coarse (as these things go, suck isn’t the worst word they’ll encounter in a given day) but that we are teaching them to be uncreative and unskilled in the use of game theory.

I’m sure there are many, many counterexamples of clever fans moving the ball forward in ways that neither the Yankees fans nor Mets fans last night could not. If you know of any, please leave them in the comments section below.


AS

Best thing I heard in the top top deck of Dodger stadium.

Fan one was hurling insults at a player

Fan two: You know he can't hear you right?

Fan one: He can hear me in his heart, and it hurts.

Almodovar

The Mets could have been more creative, sure. But losing 3 games that bad to your big brother team? I'd probably be chanting "Yankees Suck" too.

Stormin_Norman

football fans in europe (and other places around the world) are renowned for their banter.

and example between two sets of fans:

"You are our feeder (junior) club." - Tottenham fans to West Ham fans

"That's why you're going down (getting relegated)." - West Ham fans' response

kristine

the most creative chant I've been involved in . . . as rural folk from Idaho we can choose any team to support, and my family has flocked to the red sox. we try to make a yearly trip to Anaheim for an angels v. red sox game.

on a good day when we're up by quite a bit the visiting red sox fans always start a "yankees suck" chant. the idea is to never let a good chance at a yankees suck chant pass you by, even when you're in Anaheim! always makes me laugh.

the Californians weren't too happy, though.

DaveyNC

The Dookies have some great cheers. They once dangled a McDonald's Happy Meal bag to tease Sean May about his weight and dressed in orange jumpsuits to make fun of Rashad McCants, both of UNC, for comparing college basketball to prison.

Also, this quote comes from a posting on Epinions.com titled, "I was a Cameron Crazy", link here: http://www.epinions.com/review/educ-Colleges_and_Universities-All-Duke_University/educ-review-5E89-20BB12A-38967A21-prod2

"We also went one step further one year when the German Detlef Schremf (formerly of the Sonics, not sure who he plays for now) threw up an air ball and we all chanted "Aer Wulfe" [German for "Air Ball"]... (not sure if I spelled that right. In fact, I'm pretty d4mn sure I *didn't* spell it right!)"

Funny stuff!

Rusty

Perhaps the Yankees' and Mets' fans lack the intellectual ability to improve their chanting.

Hallgrims

In regards to the english football chants - I heard that while Bernt Haas was at West Brom some fans of an opposing side started singing.

Bernt Haas
Shouldn't light his farts
Bernt Haas
Shouldn't light his farts

That just cracks me up.

But my favourite fan experience was back in 1999 (I think). My dad is an Arsenal fan and we went to see a match. I can't for the life of me remember what team Arsenal were playing that day but it was at a time when they had recently sold Anelka and Kanu was really starting to shine. Some guys started singing the following (to the Mary Poppins song), and of course me and dad, as well as every Arsenal fan in the stadium, joined in:

Chim-chimney, chim-chimney,
chim-chim-charee,
we have got Suker and Thierry Henry
Chim-chimney, chim-chimney,
chim-chim-charoo,
who needs Anelka when we've got Kanu..

Matthew Calise

Though football and baseball are day and night, and the sports world's focus has changed from baseball (America's past time) to football (America's present time), I get depressed by the same badgering during football games. Here in Jacksonville, FL, where people tend to be a little less creative we have made many excellent and proactive chants for our fans. With a team that has been made famous by jailbirds, it is nice that our fans have kept their heads out of the clouds and stayed grounded with such positive cheering.

Katie Cunningham

As a long-time hockey fan, I recommend checking out playoff games. There were classic posters and taunts during the most heated games.

Laurent

@#8- regarding your assessment of the jealousy
of "second tier teams in major cities..."; while this maybe
true in reference to the two NY teams, I doubt there is much
left for the white sox to envy lest we forget the cubs haven't
won since 1908.

Rebecca

Just try your average college hockey game. I know my sister, as part of the pep band, had more cheers and jeers, both family friendly and not, than I could even begin to come up with. Baseball fans have nothing on hockey fans.

GrandestR

Jeffrey - the last 15 or 20 years have had no soccer riots? Well, plenty of violence has been in evidence for so long, and still is quite recently. Remember 2007? Here you go - from the trend-spotting website psfk.com:

"We're not too sure how long this return 'to form' has been going on for, but the news articles have become so frequent that you can't help wondering what's fueling the rise of soccer hooliganism in Europe. Most recently Manchester United and Spurs fans have been involved in "ugly scenes" on their trips to Rome and Seville last week. Recent BBC Articles":

* Fans charged over United clashes
* Fans clash with police at Man Utd
* Rome police chief defends action
* English fans are stabbed in Rome
* Fans in hospital after violence
________

Or how about these?
UEFA Cup Final riots 2006
Basel (Switzerland of all places!) in 2006
Catania (Italy) 2007
Riot broke out between Feyenoord fans and French police in Nancy 2006
Wiki has a very very long article on football hooliganism - it's a worldwide phenomenon. One place it hasn't struck? The U.S.!

And here we uncivilized Americans are debating Let's Go Yankees vs. Mets Suck chants. (I agree the kiddies should be spared the gutter talk.) I've been watching baseball live and on TV, and listening on the radio for over 50 years in NY and can't remember one riot. Fights in the stands? Sure - but truly not very often. Stabbings? Deaths? Killing cops over the game? I think not. It takes more than a few cups of espresso and eating dinner at 9 to make a country civilized.

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Rob Gogan

I agree that "Yankees suck" is a really lame chant, and I'm a Boston fan. Back in '04, when Kevin Millar played for the Red Sox, he inaugurated a popular new cheer which quelled the YS yahoos at Fenway Park for a while: "Cowboy Up!" The fact that it rhymed and matched syllables tended to blunt the edge of YS. Maybe Yanks fans should adopt it or a sound-alike phrase. BTW the worst thing about YS is that, alas (from our perspective), it hasn't been accurate for a long time. So "Cowboy Up" Yanks fans!

RUBBA

Being a Met season ticketholder in the 80's I had the chance to go to a Cubs/Mets game at Wrigley Field a few years later with an ISU college friend.
The entire game, when the Mets came to bat, the bleacher bum's were chanting "East Coast Snobs!"
(Funny and rated G.)

Ketan

Re: Comment # 7 (Tyler)

Being a Cornell alum and hockey season ticket holder, I can attest to this. Chants can get very very witty and smart, but you need an entire crowd that is at that level in order for it to work.

And while I'm a proud New Yorker (me a Mets fan, brother is a Yankees fan), I'm just disappointed to say that the crowds at both stadiums aren't all at that level. There are definitely people that are capable of intelligent chants, but unless you get them all sitting together, you won't get the desired effect because the masses just won't get it.

Kevin

I think that the chanting between Mets/Yankees is pretty playful. It's a crosstown rivalry, but the truth of the matter is, the "real" fans of the team don't care as much as a division rivalry because it's AL vs NL, and other than a plus in the Win column, it's irrelevant what the other team does outside of those games where they face each other. Go to a Yankees/Red Sox game (or I imagine, a Mets/Phillies or Braves game) and I bet the chants go a lot further. Just look at the shirts that have been produced out of the Yankees/Sox rivalry over the years. Some are hilarious, some are also distasteful...

Athas

Was at a Yank/Sox game up in Fenway, when AJ Burnett was getting lit up in the 11-6 game. Sitting in RF field level within hearing range of Swisher, tried to start up a chant of "Let Swisher Pitch!, Let Swisher Pitch!" Some of the Yank fans started laughing, some of the Sox fans started to join me. Fun game.

Meridian

The silence of Nationals fans in the face of the total takeover of Nationals Park by Red Sox fans was indeed embarrassing.

Some day, and I do believe against all evidence that it will come, the Nationals will be competitive enough to generate their own fan base and visits from the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Orioles, and Phillies will pit their many expatriate fans with those of us who have come (despite upbringing elsewhere -- New York, in my case) to root for the home team. All those games will be enlivened by thousands of fans for each team.

A wonderful foretaste of that was had on Father's Day 2006, when a rookie named Ryan Zimmerman stunned the Yankees with a walk-off home run before an evenly divided crowd of 48,000 at RFK Stadium, including his father. There will be more like that, and I suspect that Nationals fans, even when we have more to root for, will be among the most polite in baseball, like our neighbors to the north in Baltimore.

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Wayne

I was at a NY Rangers NJ Devils pre-season game at the Meadowlands in the fall of 1994 months after the Rangers ended their 54 year cup drought. Although the game was a preseason game there was still a lot of bad blood on the ice from the Rangers Devils Eastern Conference Final matchup from the previous playoffs. Sometime during the game the Ranger fans in attendence started chanting "19-NEVER" followed by the traditional claps as a response to the now defunct cheer of "1940" that Ranger fans had to endure. The Devils fans in attendance came up with a response to the "19 Never" chant no long later when they echoed "Took forever."

Of course the "19 Never" chant didn't stick around for too long since the Devils won the cup at the end of that season.

Rodrigo Rosa

They should learn with brazilian soccer rivals how to be creative...it's a particular match between two different fan clubs to come up with funny chants and songs.

The bad part is they often end up being kinda offensive against the opponent. When they do not so, it's a particular show to watch their creativity, often using famous pop melodies.