In a pickle between political, home bases
Despite declaration, some doubt mayor's allegiance to Yanks
By Tatsha Robertson, Globe Staff, 10/10/2003
NEW YORK -- Mayor Michael Bloomberg has been on the defensive lately. He has had to prove himself over and over again this week, but not because of fickle polls or rising housing costs in Queens. The issue is far more intense: baseball.
As New York and Boston face off in the American League Championship Series this week, New Yorkers increasingly want to know where the true loyalties of the Medford native lie. Is he a fan of their pinstriped players, or is he really a Red Sox fan, as some suspect?
"He is a Yankees fan," a Bloomberg spokesman said assuredly yesterday. "I don't know why everyone wants to know."
Bloomberg has worked hard to dispel rumors that in his heart he roots for the Red Sox. Earlier this week, he made " a friendly wager" with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.
Confident of victory, Menino said win or lose, the Medford boy will have a standing invitation to come home. He will also send the New York mayor a clambake for four.
Bloomberg said in a statement that if the Yankees lose, he will send Menino a quart of Manhattan clam chowder, and dumplings, pizza, and bagels from local eateries.
"And just to remind you of whence your troubles began, a dozen Baby Ruth bars to commemorate the Curse of the Bambino," Bloomberg added. (Actually, the candy was not named after the famous ball player, but after Baby Ruth Cleveland, the first child of President Grover Cleveland.)
As for his migration from the Boston area to New York, the billionaire mayor had this to say: "I share a bond with Yankees past and present who have left Boston to find success in the greatest city of the world, which will make me especially proud to watch the Bombers send the boys from Beantown home empty-handed."
Not one to be outdone, Menino said yesterday during a telephone interview that Bloomberg's own 94-year-old mother, a Medford resident, is a Red Sox fan.
Menino said he would not be surprised if Bloomberg's mother calls her son and says, "Now you be a good boy and root for the hometown boys. "
Bloomberg must have switched his loyalties quite recently. He did not sound like a Yankees fan during his 2001 campaign when a New York Times columnist asked if he were a Yankees or New York Mets fan. "I grew up in Boston. I will leave it that way. I'm a very loyal guy," he said then.
Not everyone is convinced that Bloomberg has shaken his affection for the Red Sox.
"Only Michael knows," said Menino.
And, for all the big talk in New York streets about clobbering the Red Sox, and all the talk about a hex lingering over Fenway Park, New Yorkers admit they are a bit wary of anyone coming from Boston, whether a player or a mayor.
"I don't know. He should be rooting for New York," said Angel Mendez, 28. "He came up through [former mayor Rudolph] Giuliani, and Giuliani was a fan."
Mendez admits that the Red Sox are a good team and that, if not for the supposed curse, maybe he would be worried.
The Red Sox has not won a World Series since 1918, a year before the team's owner sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees, who have gone on to win the World Series 26 times since then.
"There is a curse. They always play great, but there is always something off about it. They break down in the end," said Mendez.
JoAnn McCauley of Brooklyn wants to give the city's mayor the benefit of the doubt. "He's a Mets fan," McCauley said.
"The Yankees will win in six. I'm positive," she said. "We hate [the Red Sox]. We don't always beat them, though. I think the rivalry is an East Coast thing. They are really even most of the time, which makes the rivalry so good. The games are always great games, the intensity of the rivalry. But we are better. . . . Our fans are more intense, and you can't surpass the bleacher bums."
Then, she went back to the so-called curse. "Shame on you for selling him."
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.