Home > MLB, Op-Eds > Red Sox/Yankees Circus: A Second Look

Red Sox/Yankees Circus: A Second Look

So… pretty big retraction, or at least revision, from last night’s recap. Hitting A-Rod was still a stupid tactical move if winning the game was your priority, but… some things are bigger than the game. Maybe I’ve just bought into the media hype here, but as much as the hit-by-pitch reignited the rivalry, it reminded me of my real priorities in baseball.

My mistake in all of this was assuming that Red Sox fans were booing A-Rod only because of the PED drama. Viewed through the prism of Yankee hatred, however, my feelings have turned a 360. It’s clear that those on the New York side are similarly willing to prioritize the single incident over a win, with a blubbering Joe Girardi sobbing, “I wonder what’s wrong with our world today,” simply because a man got hit on the arm with a baseball; I haven’t seen Girardi this choked up since announcing Darryl Kile’s death, and unlike that tragic moment, this offers Yankee-hating schadenfreude. I’ve even seen Yankee fans declaring that Dempster should be criminally liable for the beanball.

With their shock and indigence at Dempster’s retribution, New Yorkers’ arrogance is laid bare; they’re unwilling to deal with – or even comprehend – the consequences to years of smugness and a 2009 championship tainted by a large group of highly visible PED offenders. Again, I don’t personally care about steroid use, but it’s very clear that players are angry at the successes of rule-breakers at the expense of rule-abiders, and when that coincides with Yankee-hating, I’ll be fine with the result. Girardi and Yankee fans snapping is reminiscent of another high profile A-Rod debacle; after the infamous “slap play” in the 2004 ALCS, fans were so incensed that umpires would dare limit their god-given right to the championship that police in riot gear had to protect the field.

Where many fans are willing to enjoy the league-wide hagiography of the Yankees’ longtime closer who defeated their teams so many times in service of the Evil Empire, this recent drama reminds me of the joy I had in watching Mariano Rivera writhe on the warning track last May. What happened then, and when Girardi cries, and when fans refuse to accept just desserts for arrogance, are the death throes of a crumbling Yankee monolith, and that decay means so much more than a single game.

I feel a greater joy and energy today, following a loss that got so deeply under the Yankees’ skin, than I have over a Red Sox victory in a long time. It’s obvious that many Yankee fans, similarly, are more upset by the Red Sox standing up to them than they are happy about a win that brought them to within 6 games of a wildcard spot. The rivalry is back, but more importantly, this is a new chapter for the passion of Yankee-hating. The latter was my overwhelming concern in baseball before I was a Red Sox fan, and if the Red Sox were to go down the path they seemed to go with Bobby Valentine last year, it would be there after my Boston fandom had faded.

While I’m still very much a Red Sox fan, I’ve even been reminded of how a fan could find the joy that the Orioles felt at the end of 2011, with the agony of a hated rival taking precedence over their own failures and almost erasing the importance of their own defeat. Don’t expect “whomever faces the Yankees” recaps here, but tomorrow, you can bet I’ll be rooting for Toronto with more interest and investment than I’ve had in an opponent’s defeat all year.

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  1. August 19, 2013 at 5:40 PM

    Or maybe Ryan Dempster’s a terrible pitcher who did a dumb thing because he cares more about sending a “message” instead of, you know, winning baseball games. The best revenge is living well, and all that.

    • August 19, 2013 at 5:42 PM

      I care more about that too, in retrospect. The best revenge is whatever gets the Yankees and their fans visibly miserable. If they make the playoffs by one game and win the World Series, I’ll change my mind, I guess.

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