To view the article this rant is based on, click here. 

Take a look at this video. Yankees fans should get a warm feeling inside; Sox fans, not so much.

I don’t mean to incite nostalgia, good or bad. Or maybe I do, but not in the way that you might think.

I’ve harped on this quite a bit, but I am going to continue to harp on it for quite a while. It may not be a fixable issue, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t constantly irritate me for the foreseeable future.

While you’re either basking or melting in the glory of this video, take a hard look at the stands whenever the camera pans away from the field. There’s hardly an empty seat in the house.

Yes, this is one of the most thrilling moments in the history of the sport. Not only that, but it took place in extra innings of perhaps the biggest game between the two franchises that constitute sports’ most tenuous rivalry—and at the apex of that rivalry, no less.

So no, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the stands are full.

But let’s think about this. This was a four hour playoff game, meaning it ended after midnight. I looked it up, and it turned out that this was a Thursday. I would think there would be plenty of people on hand that night who had work early the next morning. Or who had kids who had school that Friday. Or both.

But they all stayed. There might be a few who walked out that night, but there sure weren’t a lot.

Transport this moment to the new Yankee Stadium in 2011, and I would think it would have unfolded quite differently.

The crowd on hand would surely be delirious. There would be plenty of fans who remained. But there would also be plenty of fans who didn’t.

How do I know this? Well, I think anybody who’s spent enough time at either of the two venues would vouch, but let’s quickly jump in the DeLorean once more.

I attended Game 1 of the 2009 World Series at the Stadium, easily the biggest game in the Bronx since the Yanks collapsed in ’04 against the Sox. It was a close game, but a miserable one. Cliff Lee blanked the Yankees. They looked so hopeless offensively that Chase Utley’s solo home run in the first felt like a debilitating punch to the crotch. You didn’t even get hit that hard, but you also couldn’t manage to bring yourself to your feet after collapsing in a heap. When he homered off CC again in the sixth—another solo shot—it felt more like a visit to the guillotine than a punch in the groin. The Yankees simply weren’t recovering from that. At least on that night.

So yes, it was a bleak game, and the crowd’s mood was understandably somber. I was too. But if you looked around the stadium that night, there were clusters of empty seats everywhere. The stadium wasn’t even full when the game started, with visible vacancies in sections all around the ballpark (except the bleachers, naturally). But when Utley went deep that second time, people started leaving. In the World Series. In the sixth inning. Of a two run game, for christ’s sake.

Part of what made the Boone home run so special was that it served as the culmination of a massive comeback.

In that game, the Yankees trailed by four after three-and-a-half innings. After six innings, they had managed just three hits off a still effective Pedro Martinez. Yankees fans had no reason to think Grady Little’s bullpen phone didn’t work—those first 5 innings were as bleak as they could possibly be. Even after Little left Pedro in for the 8th, the right-hander managed to get Nick Johnson to pop out to lead off the inning. As Derek Jeter stepped into the batters’ box, baseball-reference’s win probability chart had the Red Sox having a 94% chance of winning the game, meaning the Yankees had just a six percent chance of survival.

When Chase Utley went deep for the second time in 2009, the Yankees still had a 25 percent chance of winning the game.

They were far from dead, and the thought of losing that game could not even compare to the dread Yankees fans would have experienced if Grady Little had even had a shred of sense in him.

You have two big games in October. Two playoff games in the Bronx where the opposing team had a knife to the collective throat of the Yankees and their fans.

In one game, the home team and their faithful spectators stuck around, standing and sweating for four hours with 50,000 compatriots, feeling defeated until their fears were vindicated as bedlam was unleashed in the Bronx.

In another, 35,000 sat in their seats, lamenting their favorite team’s fate long before it was sealed. Thousands more put the WCBS broadcast on their respective car radios, and turned the volume down as they drove home on the turnpike or highway of their choosing.

For a full-length and explanatory rant on this phenomenon, click here.

Jesse Golomb is the creator and writer of Soap Box Sports Byte. He currently works for Baseball Digest. If you enjoyed this article, or want takes on the rest of the Major Leagues, the NFL and more, you can read the rest of his work on soapboxsportsbyte or follow  @SoapBxSprtsByte

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