Thursday, August 23, 2012

A view from behind the foul pole. Or, is Jeter the next Paul to invade 35th St.?

Chicago White Sox versus New York Yankees always takes on a certain air. Some fans get a little more hostile, and the hoards of Yankees fans who don’t live in New York turn out and wind up inflating the crowd.

Which is why I couldn’t help but notice the tug-of-war of sorts that occurred Wednesday night, when the White Sox managed to beat the Yankees 2-1 to complete a three-game sweep that enabled them to maintain a 2-game lead in their division (the Detroit Tigers just won’t lose).

THE YANKEES’ MARQUEE ballplayer, shortstop Derek Jeter, got much of the derision that would be expected from fans of the other ballclub.

But as I sat in my second-row seat directly behind the left field foul pole (don’t get started on the age-old debate about why it’s not called the ‘fair’ pole), I couldn’t help but detect that the “boos” were being drowned out by squeals of joy.

There were many Yankees fans in the ballpark. I sat just down the row from one pair with a father wearing a Number 7 jersey for Mickey Mantle, and his grown son wore a number 44 jersey for later era star Reggie Jackson.

But it seems the female contingent among them let out in squeals that likely haven’t been heard around 35th Street and Shields Avenue since that day some 47 years ago when The Beatles performed a concert at the old Comiskey Park located in what is now the parking lot directly north of the stadium.

A PART OF me wondered if this was sort of what it was like when Paul McCartney took the field to run out to the stage set up behind second base to play a set of music that likely was inaudible due to all the screaming.

Is that what Jeter has become these days? It’s not enough that he’s a likely future member of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. The athlete who has dated so many sexy celebs that I can’t keep track of them all is now the pop idol.

Particularly when he managed to drive a fly ball into the left field seats for the Yankees’ lone run on Wednesday – one that briefly tied up the ballgame.

Paul standing on a stage not far over where shortstop once was

Jeter fans definitely overpowered the Yankee-bashers for that one moment, particularly all the young women I saw at the ballpark wearing their Yankees Number 2 jerseys in ways that no ballplayer ever could get away with.

THOSE MOMENTS ARE now gone, just like the Yankees, who on Thursday are on their way to Cleveland for a three-game series and will not return to Chicago this year unless – by chance – the two teams both wind up qualifying for the American League playoffs and get pitted against each other.

A final round of playoffs between New York and Chicago for the American League championship and chance to go to the World Series sounds intriguing.

But for any White Sox fans licking their lips at the thought of another series, perhaps they ought to gain some perspective. A three-game sweep against the Yankees isn’t something that happens all too often for a Chicago ballclub.

Historically, the arrival of the Bronx Bombers in Chicago is supposed to be the blow that puts to rest any delusions of winning anything resembling a championship.

IT LIKELY MEANS this could be the highlight of the Chicago season for 2012.

After all, I couldn’t help but notice that the operators of the scoreboard at U.S. Cellular Field kept putting up various bits of trivia related to the New York/Chicago connection in baseball.

It’s not a pretty picture. The overall record dating back to 1903 is 806 victories for the White Sox – and 1,043 wins for Noo Yawk!

Even with the Wednesday win boosting the Chicago total to 807, there’s still a long ways to go before the two ball clubs are on equal footing.

AND I’LL HAVE to admit to enjoying being among the people who bought 26,319 tickets to Wednesday’s game – even if my seat gave me a crummy view of the cause célèbre that was Jeter.

That smudge in the mesh is a Hall of Fame celebrity athlete

For every time I looked straight forward, the foul pole was positioned so as to block the part of the infield where the shortstops stand.

For me, Derek Jeter on Wednesday was a blur who kept popping up in the mesh part that extends from the pole.


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