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Wednesday, September 19, 2001
Loving New York more than ever

By Jim Caple
Page 2

Sixty-one years ago this month, Nazi Germany began bombing London. The Blitz lasted nine months, killed 20,000 people and destroyed more than 1 million homes in London, but it did not break the city's spirit.

Yankee fans
Many more of us are cheering the Yankees along with Rudy Giuliani, far right.
In his final war broadcast from London, famed CBS commentator Eric Sevareid spoke these words: "When this is all over, in the days to come, men will speak of this war, and they will say, 'I was a soldier,' or, 'I was a sailor,' or, 'I was a pilot.' And others will say with equal pride, 'I was a citizen of London.' "

New Yorkers should feel that same pride now.

New York's sports fans are notorious. They are loud, rude and obnoxious, alternately quick to raise a single index finger in triumph or a middle finger in defiance. Spoiled by decades of championships and Hall of Fame players, Yankees fans are the most insufferable of them all. They can rain enough garbage on the field to fill New Jersey and shout crude insults that leave a 20-year veteran sobbing like a baby. And the male fans are even worse.

Yankees fans are so tough, they have their own jeer named after them. How rough are they? Former Orioles pitchers Mike Flanagan once said that the first time he pitched in New York, they warned him to lock the doors on the bullpen cart.

And yet, as an old Red Sox fan who was struck dumb in 1978 when Bucky Dent homered and left numb in 1986 when Mookie Wilson's groundball rolled between Bill Buckner's legs, I now find myself saying words I never dreamt possible. I love these guys right now.

I love the fan who suggested the two teams wear FDNY and NYPD caps for the rest of the season. I love the fans who will pour into their stadiums when the two teams return. I love their passion, their experience, their knowledge and their defiant, "We're From New York, You Gotta Problem With That?" attitude.

Jets fans
All together now, J-E-T-S, Jets!
That attitude is carrying New York through this tragedy and the rest of us could all use some of that same Big Apple swagger to get through this crisis. As Humphrey Bogart warns Major Strasser in "Casablanca," "There are certain sections of New York, Major, that I wouldn't advise you to try to invade."

So now that sports are returning to the country, go out and make yourself heard, New York. Shout "Let's Go, Mets!" so boisterously that John Rocker could hear it from the No. 7 train. Cheer the Jets and Giants loud enough to wake Jimmy Hoffa. Play "New York, New York" so long and so often after each victory that not even Donald Trump could afford to pay the royalties.

New York, stand as tall and defiant as Roger Clemens on the mound. The country is with you. We're all New Yorkers at this time.

Well, maybe not Red Sox fans.

Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.