New Yorkers are in a unique anthropological position to observe their fellow citizens divided into two bitter factions, rooting for athletic blood enemies. I chanced upon a meeting of the dueling tribes last night, in the wild, on a packed 7 train from Vernon Jackson Boulevard to Citi Field. This is what I saw.
• A man is wearing a mesh Mets hat, which we will later find out he got for free at the stadium by giving all of his personal information to Chevrolet in a survey. He is chatting jovially with a man in a Johan Santana jersey and Adidas sandals, and another dude in a Yankees t-shirt. No animosity is evident among them.
• A young 24-year old wears the classic blue Mets t-shirt-accented by an orange Star of David-beneath an unzipped green hoodie from Washington University in St. Louis. So, he's Jewish, but not "Yeshiva Jewish" and not Jewish enough to guarantee admission to an elite East Coast school. He keeps dozing off, so it's also possible he is just real lazy or a drunkard who is still hungover at 7 p.m.
• One young couple stands in the middle of the car, supporting each other through the jostling of the subway by the strength of their love, and also by grabbing onto each other's midsection. And look! One is a Yankee fan (he) while the other prefers the Mets (she). His jersey is an official game uniform; hers is just a t-shirt. They sit down, and it becomes clear why they must hold each other up: Each has in their hands a 12 oz bottle of Woodchuck Draft Cider (5% ABV). In perfect unity they bring the green bottles to their lips-once, then again. I find myself hoping they live happily ever after. They appear to be 19.
• Mysteriously, there is a San Francisco Giants hat at the end of the train. It seems possible the owner lived in New York back when the baseball Giants actually played here, which was 60 years ago.
• One man in a Muhlenberg College fraternity t-shirt and Mets cap has apparently spent the day wrestling on an asphalt surface, as evidenced by the many holes in his jeans which he does not seem likely to patch up.
• A blonde woman in a tight-fitting Yankees jersey-Jeter, natch-is the most attractive woman in the car. Inexplicably, she appears to be attached to the man described above. A Mets fan, we remind you, with no fewer than eight separate and unique holes in his jeans.
• A 20-something gal has accented her Yanks cap with gladiator sandals and pearl earrings. She is surrounded by six female friends, none of whom sport any discernible baseball paraphernalia. They do not appear to be aware that a baseball game is about to occur, but do seem like a fun group to see Sex and the City with, which is meant not as a criticism but a statement of fact.
• A father and son are dressed in matching jerseys and red hats, but for opposite teams. This is the first Subway Series they've attended. We know they are father and son because the jerseys both say "Velez 18" on the back. Mom is a Mets fan. There does not seem to be an unusual amount of family tension.
• Two men wear crisp Oxford shirts, khakis, and loafers. There are no baseball markers, but men like this do not support losers: Yankees.
• A young man with his hair in a Mick Jagger shag also wears what I believe are, to this day, still referred to as Rivers Cuomo glasses. He is likely 18, with a size small Yankees shirt that is ill-fitting in a loose way. His father wears a black blazer, jeans, cropped silver hair, and a Rolling Stones t-shirt. His level of coolness has followed a trajectory closer to Cuomo's than Jagger's over the past 15 years.
• "So, then, she just kept talking to me on IM," explains a young man in a Yanks hat. His friend has blue sneakers that match his Mets cap and clash with his orange Mets shirt just as startlingly as the team's actual uniforms do. "Bitch," said the Mets fan, in support. A common enemy.
After observing the combatants in their natural habitat, I have reached the following conclusions: Mets and Yankee fans, like all New Yorkers, come in every shape, size and degree of stereotype. They also do not appear to hate each other, and, in many cases, seem to actually find each other agreeable. There is hope for mankind.
Reeves Wiedeman has written for the Boston Globe, Philadelphia Inquirer, Mail and Guardian and Sports Illustrated.com. See his meanderings here.