The Yankees are in town for a weekend showdown, and Boston Globe columnist Kevin Cullen has written a well-timed article making a case for the forced extinction of the chant, “Yankees Suck!” I couldn’t agree more with Kevin, and his article reminded me of a piece I wrote in March, 2008 for the Sox and Pinstripes blog, about why Red Sox fans actually love the Yankees more than we hate them. Here’s an excerpt from that article:
I’m Vice President of Red Sox Nation, and I love the New York Yankees. Are you a Red Sox fan who’s shocked by this statement? Guess what, you love them, too. In fact, the longer you’ve been a Red Sox fan, the greater your love is for them.
Close your eyes for a moment and imagine a world without the Yankees. Imagine there’s no rivalry between the Boston and New York baseball teams; in fact, there’s no legitimate “rivalry” between the Red Sox and any other team. Goose Gossage was never a nemesis and David Ortiz never hit those dramatic walk-off homers. Mariano Rivera played for the Reds so we hardly knew him, and George Steinbrenner owned the Phillies so his name merely rings a bell. 1978 never happened, but neither did 2004.
Do you find this vision enticing? Nah. Like me, you appreciate the way things have turned out so far (the painful times made the jubilant times more jubilant), and you’re dying of anticipation as you think ahead to future seasons of the greatest rivalry in all of sports. You’ll never root for the Yanks, but you’ll be happiest when they’re a top-notch team that buys whatever superstar they want…. then loses to the Red Sox in games that really count. And you’ll give Derek Jeter a “standing-O” in his last at-bat at Fenway Park because, like me, you deeply appreciate what he has contributed to your enjoyment of The Game – as a Yankee.
To read the article from Sox and Pinstripes in its entirety, click here.
When I first heard that a Red Sox jersey had been buried in the cement under Yankee Stadium, it never occurred to me that the Yankees would: a) Make a big deal out of it, or b) Even consider digging into the foundation to exhume the shirt. But that’s because I was still thinking about the proud Yankees of pre-2004, who would have simply laughed at the story, then ignored it. (Dominance over a team gives you that privilege.)
The Yankees of 2008 are a different lot –- they have become the Red Sox of pre-2004! What better evidence is there that the Red Sox are “in the heads” of the Yankees than the fact that the Yankees’ front office went to the trouble and expense to unearth the Red Sox jersey, and that they made such a public spectacle of the whole issue. Like Hank Steinbrenner’s pathetic, naive denial of the existence and magnitude of Red Sox Nation in March, this is just another clear sign that the Yankees are frustrated and demoralized, forced by the Red Sox’ superiority to worry about curses and jinxes and garbage like that. A proud Yankees franchise wouldn’t have roared at such a clever, funny stunt.
If the Red Sox fall to the #2 spot behind the Yankees in the rivalry again (perhaps about 86 years from now?) we need to take a cue from these misguided Yankees executives and remember not to act so obviously and obsessively inferior.
And anyway, it seems to me the noble jinxing effort of Gino Castignoli (born and raised in the Bronx) had an effect opposite its intention: Big Papi, whose shirt spent several months under the new Yankee Stadium, has been mired in the worst slump of his career this April. Now that that darn jersey is out of its tomb in the Bronx, I expect him to explode…
The rivalry is back, with the Yanks taking the first of their 18 regular season meetings this year. 17 more games before October? That’s the equivalent of an entire New England Patriots season. Almost an overdose. And with the rivalry stoked by that construction worker who buried a Red Sox t-shirt in the foundation of the “new” Yankee Stadium, we’re all assured another century of emotionally charged competition. Would you say that “the rivalry” is the best aspect of being a Red Sox fan? I would.
Along those lines, I wrote a guest post at the Sox and Pinstripes blog about why most of us who profess to hate the Yankees actually love them. Here is an excerpt:
I like to think that, before I was born in August of 1968, God let me choose the circumstances of my life: “Well, being a rabid baseball fan seems like a lot of fun,” I told Him, “So I think I’d like to live sometime during the 19th, 20th, or 21st Century, on Earth.”
“All right,” said God, “but please be more specific. When and where, exactly, would you like to be born?”
I thought about it and replied, “I hear that sports rivalries are charged with emotion and excitement, so please put me in a city whose team has a fierce rivalry with another team – the fiercest in all of baseball – and let me be born at a time in history that will allow me to experience that rivalry at its peak, OK?”
“Consider it done,” said God. “But one more thing – would you like to become a fan of the team that wins more championships than any other during the 20th Century? Or would you like to become a fan of the team that wins the first World Series in 1903, but later on experiences a championship drought virtually unparalleled in professional sports?”
“Hmmm.” I pondered my options. “Just make me a fan of the team that gives its fans the lowest lows and the highest highs. I want to experience the greatest possible range of emotions as a baseball fan during this lifetime.”
“No problem,” said God as he cracked a knowing smile.
To read the entire guest post at Sox and Pinstripes, click here.
I remember the first time I ever heard about Roger Clemens. It was the early ’80s, I was around 14 years old, and my dad was sitting at our kitchen table reading the Boston Globe sports section aloud, telling about the excitement surrounding a pitcher the Red Sox had drafted out of the University of Texas. The article said Clemens threw heat and that he had Hall of Fame potential. I still remember how that name sounded the first time I heard it. It sounded like raw talent. It sounded like an ace of spades. It sounded like hope for a franchise desperate to win a World Series. Today, the sound of Roger Clemens’ name has a different ring to it.
Like everyone out there, I have a gut feeling about whether or not Roger Clemens used performance-enhancing drugs. And my gut feeling has been the same for several years, since long before I ever heard of Brian McNamee. The ridiculous improvement of Clemens’ statistics as he got older (especially after his mid-career demise between 1993-1996) says a lot.
But the current public grilling of Roger Clemens serves only one purpose, really. It’s great theater. Riveting entertainment. Clemens is arguably the greatest right-handed pitcher of all-time (his 7 Cy Young Awards are a record) and we all find it fascinating to watch him fight desperately to save his reputation — and his wife’s — with the same competitiveness and bullheadedness that made him a superstar. Yup, it’s fascinating in an O.J. Simpson kind of way.
Yet I can’t think of one reason why it makes any difference whether we ever learn whether Clemens used something, or not (other than to save the credibility of whichever of the two is telling the truth). We already know that performance-enhancing drugs have been part of the culture of baseball in the sport’s recent history. Every team had users. The outcome of every game over the last ten years was probably affected in some way by steroids or HGH. That’s all that really matters to me as a passionate fan of the game. Baseball needs to be cleaned up. Period.
The objective of the Mitchell Report was not to implicate players, it was to reveal the degree to which performance-enhancing drugs have infiltrated the game and to recommend steps to recover the game’s integrity. So can someone tell me how the conversation has degenerated into this made-for-TV-ratings soap opera that has nothing to do with the Mitchell Report’s original intention?
And why does Congress care so much about whether Clemens or McNamee is telling the truth? I don’t get it. Aren’t there many, many more important things for our elected government officials to be worrying about than whether or not Roger Clemens stuck needles in his butt? Have these U.S. representatives been sucked into this story for the same reasons we’ve all been sucked in — by a fascination with the potential meteoric downfall of one of the most famous athletes of our time, and by the magnitude of the story? How did that hearing today help the people of the United States of America?
So, either Clemens or McNamee is lying. None of us can help but have an opinion about this debate. But unless you make your living from tabloid journalism or you happen to be closely related to Clemens or McNamee, the issue is really irrelevant. Let’s move on. After all, Red Sox pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers TOMORROW (Thursday, February 14). Rejoice!
Posted in Baseball, Business, Family, Life, Red Sox Nation, Sports, Success
Tagged astros, Brian McNamee, congress, HGH, Red Sox, Roger Clemens, steroids, yankees