Like a lot of you who travel for business, I have ended up in New York City countless times over the past 25 years. It is the first American city that my band Guns N' Roses really "broke" in, outside of our hometown of Los Angeles. That city has hard angles and tough people, and they seemed to love my band's music.
Over the years, I have played too many gigs to count in New York and have made some very good friends there, too. My record company is there, and my book company is there. I am connected to Manhattan and know it well.
But I am a Seattle sports fan. When it comes to sports and games, New York has always been that all-too-powerful, rich, big market that just seems so unstoppable, which comes off to the rest of us as just unfair. I could, therefore, never have much empathy for the Yankees, Jets or Knicks when they would lose. You KNEW that their ownership would spend enough to make it "right" for the next season.
But last week, I spent six consecutive days in that city promoting my new book. I got to my hotel in time to watch the whole second half of the New York Jets getting shellacked by the Baltimore Ravens, and then the New York Yankees losing Game 3 of the American League Division Series to the Detroit Tigers. I was out in the city the next day, and actually for the first time ever, felt bad for some of my friends and acquaintances who are from that town. I do know a thing or two about having a losing team, after all. …
But the Yankees came back in Game 4 and absolutely trounced the Tigers in Detroit to set up what seemed to be another inevitable trip to the World Series for the Bronx Bombers. For Game 5, I was in a car, driving back from Huntington on Long Island, and we listened to the second through seventh innings.
I got back to my hotel TV for the last innings of that game. Alex Rodriguez looked awful. Derek Jeter tried for some of his heroics but fell short. Their pitching looked tired and used up. The Yankees looked just plain human for once, and they lost. Surprisingly, I actually felt terrible for those fans.
I think it is like that in any town in which I spend some time. If my teams are out of the running, which was obviously the case here with the M's, I will look for an alternate team for the postseason -- no matter how much I might still resent that long-ago Mariner A-Rod.
Being in New York, and with New Yorkers, I started to see a human side to Yankees fans that I had never wanted to see before this. You demonize your opponent and its fan base, no?
The next morning, I was up early to work in Manhattan, and the whole city seemed quiet and bummed. Detroit seems to be the city of destiny this year (both Tigers and Lions), and might I say that these teams have their due. But as I watched the Jets lose again this past Sunday to the Patriots, I had to think of that city, and the unsettling quiet that must have certainly been there come Monday morning.
Now, the Giants losing is a whole different story. It was my Seahawks that they lost to and my city has got you beat New York -- by a long shot -- in the losing department.
Musician Duff McKagan, who writes for Seattle Weekly, has written for Playboy.com and has his autobiography out now, writes a weekly sports column for ESPN.com. To send him a note, click here and fill out the form.