Labor Day weekend is upon us!! For many people it marks the un-official end of summer or beginning of fall. For me it marks a whole different occasion. I use Labor Day weekend to mark my anniversary of moving from Michigan (by way of New Hampshire, which if you’ve never visited you should get there. Immediately.) to NYC. I don’t remember the exact date anymore, although I could probably use a calendar to figure that out at this point but that’s besides the point. And kids, this is a big one.
I can officially proclaim that I am a New Yorker because this weekend I will celebrate my 10th anniversary of living in New York. How am I going to celebrate, you ask? Well I will be up in the Bronx cheering on my Tigers from the bleachers of Yankee Stadium. This is a favorite pastime of mine and fellow Turf writer Sydney Van Gorp. Sounds fun, right?
Usually it is.
Very quick backstory, we have been going to Yankees/Tigers games for many years together. For a chunk of years Major League Baseball was even considerate enough to schedule the Tigers visit right on or around my birthday. It was August 7th, by the way, and yes I am still accepting gifts.
I have always half-heartedly joked that I take a Yankee fan as a bodyguard just in case someone has something out of line to say. I also enjoy going with a yankee fan because it’s FUN to sit with someone and banter back and forth. It brings a different element to the experience. And after all you guys, SPORTS ARE FUN!!! And because I am about to get real serious here shortly let’s shout it again for the people in the back who may not have heard us the first time…
SPORTS ARE (SUPPOSED TO BE) FUN!!!!!
They are entertainment in it’s purest form. Much like other various forms of entertainment they allow us to escape whatever stresses we may have at the moment and have a shared experience with the people surrounding us that is unique to that time frame only.
And this my friends is where we begin to take a serious turn……
I actually like to sit in the bleachers at Yankee Stadium. The price is right, the view is perfect, the fans are unpredictable, and other than the fact that they stop selling beer in the stadium before any other team (thanks in no part to the unpredictable fans), it is one of the most authentic baseball experiences you can have in an otherwise very corporate and cold stadium.
This time was different
Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve been going to these games for basically a decade. I’ve been sitting in the bleachers for almost the same amount of time. I have loads of great stories I can tell about these experiences. Last year that narrative changed.
I have never been nor will I ever be shy about wearing my Tigers gear into a visiting stadium, especially when the Tigers are playing there. I expect to get my fair share of shit to be honest. And I welcome it. Part of being a true fan is being able to endure getting teased and being able to take it with a grain of salt.
As an early birthday present last July Sydney got tickets for her, myself, and her husband to go see the Tigers play the Yankees. I told you I always take a bodyguard. Due to a last minute schedule change David couldn’t make it. (He’s an A’s fan so he didn’t feel like he was missing much). So it was just the two of us. Syd came outfitted in her Yankees hat complete with Jeter’s last season pin and I wore my newly purchased Tigers tank top.
In “enemy” territory
I even remarked as we sat down that it was the lowest representation of Detroit fans I’d ever seen at a game in my decade of going to them in the city. It took maybe 3.5 innings before the real bullying started…..
Turns out that last year was the first year I did indeed need my bodyguard.
I wish that I could recount the exact insults that were hurled my way over the course of several innings but to be honest there were too many and at this point I clearly have a case of selective memory. What I can give you however is a very brief recap of the high, nay low, points of the day.
Here come the Bleacher Creatures
I tend to try and stay calm during these occasions because I believe that rewarding negative or degrading behavior only encourages those who are engaging in it to do it even more so. Sydney is my complete opposite in that respect. She was ready to fight while I was maintaining my ignorance is (mostly) bliss state of being. It’s kind of that conundrum of being cat-called on the street… Do you walk through it “un-affected” and hope that they get the message that that kind of harassment doesn’t actually get them anywhere? Or do you not so subtle-y put those assholes in their place and tell them not-so-kindly that they can go fuck themselves and this 2018 and we as females are no longer putting up with their toxic masculinity and we are collectively clapping back?
That’s your choice in your moment. I can’t, nor will I ever, make that decision for you. We as women must feel empowered by each other to make whatever choice we feel is appropriate in the moment we are confronted with.
That being said, about halfway through this verbal beatdown I received from a group of young men occurred one of the “gentlemen” took it upon himself to come down and apologize on behalf of his friends.
Enter “the Nice Guy”, Stage Left
This man’s reasons included but were not limited to….. “I’m sorry they’re drunk.” And “ Well you should have known that you wore a Tigers shirt and are sitting in the bleachers.”
So I kindly and calmly responded with these answers, “You should be sorry for the way your friends are acting, but being drunk doesn’t actually excuse their behavior.” Followed by… “I have sat in the bleachers for close to a decade now and I have always worn my Tigers gear. I have had a great time having fun with the home crowd around me. If you think I’m scared or intimated by your friends that is where they are completely mistaken. I’m braver than they ever will be because I made the choice to walk into enemy territory and be able to defend myself. I didn’t come in not expecting to get my fair amount of shit. I actually always expect the opposite. But I can take it because I’m a fan and an adult. And your friends who are sitting behind me and acting like cowards while wearing nothing that actually backs up their “fandom” so to speak should have at least a little bit of respect for me.” I kindly and calmly went on to explain that his friends have more than crossed a boundary between fun fans and downright disrespectful ones.
It got to the point where the security guards took it upon themselves to intervene and make sure everything was ok. We told them we were fine and had it handled but they assured us that they were only steps away if need be.
Here comes the real kicker you guys…….
Sydney had that balls to ask the question that was on both of our minds at the moment. She simply asked him, “If my husband or her boyfriend had been here tonight, would your friends have had the balls to pick on us?”
His answer, “No. Probably not.”
To which she responded, “What strong men they are to pick on two girls sitting by themselves.That takes some real balls.”
By the time we left I was still so upset that I was actually shaking when I got on the train. I might be a white girl from suburban Detroit, but it honestly takes a lot to get me to that point.
The Next Chapter
Sydney and I are headed back to what will likely be our last Tigers/Yankees game together this time with her husband too. Not because we need him there but because we WANT him there. And you are damn right that I will be wearing that same tank top while we sit in the bleachers. Because you know what?
Now I’m a New Yorker and you can kindly sit down and go fuck yourself if you don’t agree with me. I don’t give a shit.
Happy 10 year Anniversary NYC! But you’ll still ALWAYS find me in the bleachers shouting “Go Tigers!!!!”