Yankees fans met by warm welcome
Locals offer nice reception for New York faithful
ANAHEIM -- Despite their team's 4-2 loss on Tuesday in Game 1 of the American League Division Series against the Yankees, Angels fans were a generally happy bunch on Wednesday while gearing up for Game 2 in the Angel Stadium parking lot.
Clad almost exclusively in red, even the most hardcore Halos backers were in a jovial, confident mood.
"We're gonna bang Wang," Mike Morrissey of nearby Costa Mesa yelled, in reference to New York's Game 2 starting pitcher, righty Chien-Ming Wang.
Told that Wang is actually pronounced "Wong," Morrissey laughed.
"Whatever, man," he said without the slightest trace of embarrassment. Seconds later, a devilish grin crossed his face before he yelled, "We're gonna GONG WONG!"
So stoked to have scored tickets to what, should the worst-case scenario play out, could be their squad's last home game of the year, Angels fans didn't seem to have the slightest problem with the many Yankees backers among them.
David Fanning, a transplanted New Yorker now living in Newport Beach, was sporting a No. 13 road Yankees jersey and was blown away by the tolerance.
"Some guy in a Bengie Molina jersey just offered me a hot dog," he said. "That same guy shows up [in the Bronx] for Game 3 or 4, and he'd better keep that jersey under a sweatshirt. And ain't no way he's gettin' free food from a Yankees fan.
"It's just a different vibe here. I've lived here for six years, so I'm kinda used to it, but I've got some buddies here this week and they're like, 'What the [heck] is goin' on here?'"
In other words: Where's the hate?
"There is none here," marveled one of Fanning's friends, Jerry Hicks. "Everyone's just having a good time, enjoying the sunshine. At Yankee Stadium, we don't care about the elements, man. We care about winning. And if your team beats ours, you better lay low the next day."
"It's all love, bro, all love," said Javy Garcia, who drove in from Long Beach with seven buddies from college. "We want the Angels to win, and nobody likes the Yankees, but people don't like the Yankees because all of their money, not because of their fans. Everyone knows the Yankees have great fans, and all of them that we've met have lived up to the reputation.
"The more the merrier, bro. It's all good."
Yankees fan Freddy DiPietro, decked out from head to toe in New York navy blue, has his own theory on why Angels fans have been as warm as the weather.
"I think they're color-blind," he said. "They think we're all wearing black, so they're probably confusing us with [Oakland] Raiders fans. Seriously, I think they're just scared of us."
Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.