Red Sox fever has descended on the Island. At Bert's Barbershop in Vineyard Haven, there is division over what team to support in the race to the World Series. Wayne Ferreira, a barber from Falmouth, is a Red Sox fan. So is Phil Combra, the owner - though "I used to be a Yankee fan, I am a Red Sox fan now. I changed 15 years ago."
But Bill Berg, a barber from Oak Bluffs, said: "I am a dedicated Yankee fan. I gave up on the Red Sox. My grandfather was a Yankee fan. My father is a Yankee fan."
"He doesn't know much about baseball," said Mr. Ferreira.
And so the ribbing goes.
Across the Island, even people who don't care about baseball care now, as Boston battles New York for the American League championship.
Paul Brissette, an arts teacher for the regional high school, said: "People who don't watch sports are watching it and loving it."
Michael Santoro, manager of the Atlantic Connection and Seasons Pub, said yesterday he is amazed about the interest. At the Seasons Pub Wednesday night, the first game of the current series was full of tension at the start. "I'd say about 10 per cent of the customers were Yankee fans," Mr. Santoro reported. "The Yankee fans were jumping up and down at the start of the game. Then we didn't hear from them for the rest of the night."
Monday night - the last night of the Boston-Oakland playoffs, in which the Red Sox after losing two, won three straight games - was a special challenge at the club. On that night, Mr. Santoro said, "If I wasn't in the bar, they would have ripped the place apart. Red Sox fans have this level of frustration. They were screaming at every pitch. [With] the last pitch, the place erupted."
It has been a busy week, too, at The Locker Room, a sports enthusiast's paraphernalia store on Circuit avenue. Here a customer can buy a Red Sox cap - or a Yankee one. Alex McCluskey, who shares ownership of the store with Todd Rebello, said he has seen more than the usual number of Yankee fans. They've been razzing him. "There are more Yankee fans coming into the store now, and they are giving me a bad time. I am battling them," he said, smiling.
Several Oak Bluffs store owners watched the Monday game at Mr. Rebello's house. Mr. McCluskey said he and Mr. Rebello were joined by Josh Aronie, owner of Bistro, and Jon Blau, owner of Jaba's. At a key moment, with the score tied and Boston's Manny Ramirez at the plate, Mr. Blau said, "If Manny hits a home run, I am going to get a gym membership and work out for a year."
Ramirez homered. "You know," Mr. McCluskey said, "next day, Jon went and signed up."
Island Red Sox fans are no different than all the others, Mr. McCluskey said: "We are all superstitious."
And so on Wednesday night, the four of them gathered again at Mr. Rebello's house. They sat precisely in the same places as they had on Monday; the only difference was that Mr. Blau had a membership in an exercise club. It seemed to pay off.
Greg Carroll of Edgartown, too, is superstitious.
On Wednesday he wore his winning Red Sox cap while he did errands with his two-and-a-half year old daughter, Grace, and seven-year-old son, Andrew. "You know, some people don't believe it yet," Mr. Carroll said. The idea the Red Sox may break a legendary curse and go to the World Series is such a big deal. "You know, the Red Sox have played the Yankees for so many years. We've been through this before, again, again and again."
Early this baseball season, Mr. Carroll bought a new baseball cap, but while he wore it the Red Sox lost. So he switched back to his older hat, and the team continued to win through the summer, and he is wearing the yellow brim hat now.
At Oak Bluffs elementary, interest in the Red Sox is legendary. Laurey Binney, school principal; Carlin Hart, assistant principal, and Bill Jones, guidance counselor all go to Red Sox games.
The whole school is swept up in the spirit.
Mr. Jones had declared Wednesday, Oct. 1, to be Red Day, in honor of the first day of the Oakland playoffs. "Everyone wore red," he reported. "The teachers and the students dressed in red. Students, who are not allowed to wear hats in school, were allowed to wear Red Sox hats. I got a sign outside my office that read: ‘Reverse the curse.'"
That night, the Red Sox lost to Oakland. Mr. Jones and others shifted their strategy: "We haven't worn red since - and the Red Sox have been winning."
Yes, Mr. Jones said, there are Yankee fans within the school and the community. "We give Yankee fans equal air time," he said. "It is in the interest of fairness, and fairness is part of our social curriculum."
Nevertheless, Mr. Jones said: "The Oak Bluffs School are fanatics about the Red Sox, especially the staff and some kids. Some are bleary eyed - but they are happy people."
(At the Edgartown School, Betsy Hauck on Tuesday morning noted that a number of students were falling asleep in class; all of the playoff games from now on are at night, and frequently don't end before 10:30 or 11 p.m.)
Finally, there is the story of Mary Beth Meehan, an assistant teacher at the Edgartown School.
Her 19-year-old daughter Jackie is a sophomore at California State University at Hayward, and she attended the Monday game in Oakland.
"She had her cellphone," Mrs. Meehan said. "While I watched the game on television, she gave me play by play."
No word on who will provide that service from Chicago next week.