There are certain two word phrases that seem destined for each other. Where their coupling achieves a sort of simple, evocative poetry. Summer’s breeze; good dog; sand castle; cold beer, and perhaps most effectively, in New England vernacular anyway: Yankees suck.
The proclamation is well trod by now, but there was a time around the turn of the millennium when it was just reaching its zenith. It had become a sort of mantra for the people of New England t Fenway Park, of course ut also anywhere else people gathered: weddings, birthday parties, games where neither the Red Sox or the Yankees were even involved. It could even serve as a greeting between two people passing on the street. “Yankees suck?” “Yankees suck!” Never mind that it was the furthest thing from the truth. In the midst of a particularly impressive run of World Series victories, the Yankees, objectively, did not suck at the time. And yet, to Bostonians, they did. They really, really did.
That’s where Ray LeMoine and friends come in. Around 1999, the Northeastern University student and Fenway Park vendor enlisted a group of friends from the Boston hardcore scene to capitalize on the wave of anti-New York sentiment by printing up T-shirts featuring the phrase. They were simple, straight to the point, and a sorely needed middle-finger to the evil empire that married the edgy attitude of the hardcore world with the identity-consuming sports fandom. The rise and fall of LeMoine and his crew were the subject of a riveting Grantland piece from 2015, which was optioned for a film by Pyewacket Pictures’ Gillian Greene, wife of Sam Raimi. And now their exploits are the focus of an ESPN 30 for 30 podcast that premiered this week.
“Hating the Yankees is part of our heritage,” ESPN’s Julia Lowrie Henderson explains in the piece. “It has brought generations of Bostonians together. But Ray did something none of the rest of us did. He took that hatred and made a shit ton of money off of it.”
A shit ton, kid.
In the few years they roamed the streets of Boston, selling hundreds of shirts a day, and pulling in an estimated hundreds of thousands of dollars, the crew essentially operated like a drug operation, including some of the attendant violence $10 crack rock for jocks