Friday, June 12, 2009

I'm Enjoying the Yankees/Red Sox Rivalry

Let's be clear: I absolutely detest these two baseball teams. I hate hate hate them both — I like to think equally, although the Yankees' free-agent cannonball splash this offseason makes them more recently offensive. And theoretically, if you hate both teams, you should hate the rivalry, too, which is all anyone wants to talk about on any of the NINETEEN nights during the season when Boston and New York are playing baseball against one another.

It gets tiresome. It's tiresome that the 8 p.m. Sunday game on ESPN is always Yankees/Red Sox, if they have a weekend series. It's aggravating to show up at the Depot on Thursday for Trivia Night, only to find that they've suspended Trivia Night because New York and Boston are playing an "important" regular-season game. It's sad that Major League Baseball has compromised the integrity of its competition by introducing the unbalanced schedule — basically so that this rivalry can be joined as often as possible between April and October.

And now that Boston has grown into an American League powerhouse franchise with a standing and fan following at least equal to the Yankees' — and as these teams have fought tooth and nail, more often than not, for the AL East division title, if not for the pennant, in recent years — the rivalry has become overhyped, overblown, and overplayed.

In short, I hate hate hate everything about the Yankees and Red Sox, and so anything like this rivalry, which features them both and exalts them both, should absolutely get on my last nerve and shred it with a cheese grater.

Except now — right now and for now — I'm really enjoying it.
Why's that, Phutatorius.?

I'm so glad you asked, Brother/Sister. Here's exactly why. Because I hate hate hate both of these teams with a white-hot, burning-acid hate, the only pleasure I can derive from having the media shove them in my face is in seeing them fail. Fail, Yankees! Fail, Red Sox! Fail miserably, and dramatically. Fail graphically and violently. Die! Die great, Shakespearean baseball deaths. Let the diamond dirt soak up great gobs of blood and sweat spilled in defeat. Let your wretched, unwashed, barbarian fan bases gnash their teeth and rend their knock-off jerseys in anguish and despair!

But of course that's not going to happen. These teams aren't going to fail: certainly not both of them, anyway. The Yankees spend too much money, and the Red Sox are too well-run. It would be too much to expect them both to crash and burn. No — the smart Yankee- and Red Sox-hater has to hedge his bets. He has to be content if just one of these teams fails in dramatic fashion. And although, in the bigger picture, both teams are doing well this year — they're running 1-2 in the division right now, with the Sox 12 games over .500 and the Yanks playing 8 games over even — I am pleased to report that the Yankees have lost eight straight games against the Red Sox this year.


Let's develop the narrative a little more. The Yankees had dominated this rivalry, and the rest of baseball, for much of the last century. But since their last World Series title, the Red Sox — the RED SOX — have won two championships, while the Yankees' organization has floundered. New York actually failed to make the playoffs last year, with a payroll of over $200 million. This is the baseball equivalent of falling out of bed and failing to hit the ground. It was glorious. And now, after throwing $420 million at the problem last year, the Yankees still can't beat Boston.

Oh, yeah, fine: they can beat everybody else: they're 16 games better than .500 against the other teams. But they've lost eight in a row to Boston. Ha! Ha ha!

This is where the rivalry becomes useful for the Yankee- and Red Sox-hater. These teams have transcended the rest of the competition. It's not exactly Celtic-Rangers, but it's as close as the game of baseball allows. If we accept that both teams cannot simultaneously be ground down (or at least that this outcome is statistically improbable), let's run with the idea that one can absolutely dominate the other, and if we are able to ignore the winning team's success and focus specifically on the losing team's frustration and disappointment, some measure of Schadenfreude is available to us. There is great pleasure to be had here.

Going forward, until such time as the Yankees reestablish themselves in this rivalry, I will be rooting strongly for Boston to win its games against New York. Not because I like Boston at all, but because I am able to see Boston as a blunt instrument with which another team I hate hate hate in equal measure might be clubbed senseless and battered into the ground.

And, of course, if New York should turn this train around and win nine in a row against Boston, then go, Yanks!


Mithridates said...

There's nothing quite like traveling through third world countries to gauge the changing dynamics in American sports. Whatever they made too much of gets shipped elsewhere. eg, don't be surprised if that Palestinian child burning an American flag in the NY Times photo is wearing a "19-0!" t-shirt.

Last year when traveling through the highlands of Ecuador, I couldn't help but notice that nearly every third person was wearing a Yankee cap. Beautiful!

Unknown said...

Which of course begs the question - how many Cavs championship jerseys are on a boat right now and how many 2007 Tribe AL champs jerseys are being used to wave off mosquitos in Africa. Poor Cheif Wahoo! Sorry P but the last time I saw Cleveland win anything Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn was on the mound

Mithridates said...

And even that was 20 years ago . . . I'm for sticking around and giving 'em all a nice big shitburger to eat!

Mithridates said...

I'm enjoying the Yankees-Mets rivalry. Make no mistake, when it comes to these two teams, I'm rooting for the Mets every time, but that doesn't mean I can't take great pleasure out of the Mets choke last night. The Mets couldn't possibly have slept after such a pathetic end to the game and the Yankees, while clearly happy to win, know that when the game was on the line, all their best player could manage was a weak pop-up to second. Just wonderful!

Phutatorius said...

ONTRI: you're living proof of how far the Red Sox have come in five years. Back in 2004, Sox fans gave their testimony by talking on and on about how no one suffers quite like them, and how their suffering was the deepest and worst kind of suffering, and blah blah blah. And look at you now — utterly incapable of empathy and baiting the Cleveland fan. If we were to swap the B on your hat for an NY, no one would be the least bit suspicious.

Two other points, while you're talking trash:

(1) I before E, pal.
(2) You don't know what you're talking about. The Indians won in the bottom of the ninth in Major League, so Vaughn WASN'T on the mound. And whatever you meant by "won anything," you're still wrong. In Major League the last game was a one-game playoff with the Yankees at the end of the regular season. The actual Tribe went to the playoffs from 1995 to 1999 and again in 2001 and 2007. We learn in Major League 2 (1994) that the Indians lost in the ALCS in the previous season. By the end of the sequel, they're in the World Series (but we don't know how they did). The Tribe did better than that in '95 and '97.

Phutatorius said...

Oh, and by the way – while Jonathan "Suckface" Papelbon is feeding the 2007 World Series last-out baseball to his dog, Cleveland sports teams are out doing their best to keep Third World children in clothes.

So take that!

Unknown said...

Wow - I stand corrected. In reflection it was Pedro Cerano who hit a game tying home run in the 7th after telling Jobu off. They scored no runs in the 8th and Rick Vaughn saved not the game but a possible scoring threat in the top of the 9th which set the table for Jake Taylor's infamous walk off hit and run. I'm sorry P I will never question you again.

Phutatorius said...

Uecker: "The Indians win! The Indians win! Oh my God -- the Indians win!"

Post a Comment