The 2008 Baseball season officially commenced at 6:05 am EDT when Oakland A’s pitcher Joe Blanton threw to Dustin Pedroia. Because I’m a hardcore Sox fan and have an interest in watching Opening Day with like-minded folks, I headed to Professor Thom’s in the East Village to witness the madness. What I found were a bunch of diehard fans (approximately 100, according to the bar’s e-mail newsletter) and a good smattering of reporters from radio, TV and print. As I’m writing my Ph.D. dissertation on coverage of the team, I find this aspect fascinating as well.
When I got to Thom’s at about 5:35 am, a CW11 news van was outside. At 5:45 am, the perky reporter implores the 30-odd fans to “make some noise.” The look on the faces of some of them was pretty priceless along the lines of, “Yeah, I dragged myself out of bed at 5 am to get a stool to watch the game, but this guy is not cheering until the team gets on the field.” She later refers to the entire group in a promo as “a bunch of Benedict Arnolds,” which, I pointed out to the folks sitting beside me, implies that these people were once Yankees fans. The guy to my left is multitasking, trying to get some work done on his computer while he watches the game, and TV camera appears in front, its blinding light focusing on Mr. Multitasker. “Getting some work done?” the reporter asks. Cue the eyerolls.
To my right is this guy who upon learning that I teach journalism, wants me to get him to come into my class and talk to my students. I reply, “Yeah, I don’t think my students need to hear from someone known for being the ‘man-on-the-street.'” A reporter from the Daily News later comes up and interviews him. My new friend chuckles.
Professor Thom’s had turned into a mini-media circus. Reporters from 1010 WINS, WCBS 880, The Daily News and SNY were there. This is the kind of story that I love to highlight in Tabloided: it has a fish-out-of-water element (the “Sox fan in exile”), a rivalry (Sox/Yanks, Boston/New York) and gives you colorful characters like “that guy from the Bronx who likes the other team.” Plus, it’s like shooting those fish out of water in a pretty small barrel. I just wonder about when the Sox win the World Series again this year (yeah, I had to do it), what the ratio of reporters to fans will be.