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Fierce loyalties

New York residents sticking to their particular team

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Posted: Monday October 11, 1999 08:35 PM

  The Yankees and Mets have many New Yorkers thinking about a Bronx vs. Queens World Series. Ezra O' Shaw/Allsport

NEW YORK (AP) -- James Barnes is living a baseball fan's dream life.

As the Yankees and Mets inch closer to an all-New York World Series, he has an up-close view of the action. When the Mets are in town, Barnes sells beer and hot dogs to fans at Shea Stadium. On Yankees game days, he's in the Bronx, working security at Yankee Stadium.

But he's got a problem. Which team to root for?

"That's going to be hard," Barnes says. "I like 'em both. New York is New York, American League or National. ... Regardless of who wins, I'm going to celebrate."

For Barnes, wearing a Yankees cap as he strolled through the subway station underneath Grand Central Terminal on Monday, preparing for work requires extra planning these days.

"Basically, I have everything set up," he said, explaining that he keeps his Mets and Yankees clothing separate so he can dress for work more quickly.

Barnes doesn't have to worry just yet about his wardrobe for a Subway Series. There's still work awaiting both teams.

The Mets begin the second round of the NL playoffs on Tuesday night against the Atlanta Braves, who beat New York five of six times in the last two weeks of the season.

The Yankees start play in the American League championship series Wednesday.

A Bronx vs. Queens World Series could mean a divided city -- and even some family fallouts.

Lawyer Barry Temkin, 41, says he comes from a mixed marriage.

"I'm a Yankees fan and my wife's a Mets fan," he said. "My wife has already announced it'll cause some marital discord."

But for New Yorkers who treat their baseball like religion, a Subway Series is nirvana.

"I think it would be like a weeklong drunken fraternity, a beer blast," said lawyer Alan Michigan, who has been a Yankees fan since "before the age of reason."

A Subway Series would be a throwback to the days when the Yankees regularly met the Brooklyn Dodgers or the New York Giants in the World Series. There have been 13 World Series played entirely in New York. And in the decade from 1947-56, there were seven Subway Series involving the Giants, Yankees and Dodgers.

But it's been 43 years since two New York baseball teams played in the postseason together.

"It would be like old, nostalgia-type baseball," Barnes said. "If it does happen, I'm pretty sure there's going to be mayhem."

And Percival Jones, 52, of Queens, knows who will come out on top.

"The Mets will pull it off," said Jones, sporting a blue-and-orange Mets T-shirt. "They know how to fight, they know how to scratch, to claw themselves up. They know how to be underdogs, and in the World Series they'll be like pit bulls."

Not so quick, say admirers of the 24-time World Series champion Yankees.

"What they got going for them is a hope and a prayer," Yankees fan Jabbar Simmons, 37, said of the Mets. "They're a little hungrier. I don't think they're hungry enough, though."

Simmons admits some Yankees fans might be getting a little blase after two titles in three years.

"The Mets fans, it's more exciting for them because they haven't been there for a long time," he said. "We've been there, done that."

Yankees slugger Darryl Strawberry, who has also won a World Series with the Mets, wonders about the passions that would be ignited by a Subway Series.

"You got to think, `How crazy will it be in New York?'" he said. "As far as the fans and the rivals, Mets fans and Yankees fans, you wonder if the city can control that."

Could the enthusiasm turn ugly?

Michigan, the lawyer and Yankees fan, thinks New Yorkers would keep their loyalties in perspective.

"I hope the Yankees win, but it's not because I don't like the Mets," he said. "You don't have to be an anti-Mets fan to be pro-Yankees."

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