Monday, September 30, 2013

Why I've Checked Out of the Red Sox vs. Yankees Feud

It's been about a month since my last post, so apologies (like anyone cares). Budget season at work means long nights and little free time for hobbies like, I don't know, spending time with your wife and children. Blogging easily gets kicked to the side. But fear not - some good topics coming up - 1) A guest/joint post on the 2Pac/Illuminati and what he knew before he was gunned down 2) the hypocrisy of the internet activists boycotting Chick-Fil-A and Barilla Pasta because of 'anti-gay' statements, and 3) future celebrity smackdowns of Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Bethany Frankel (as if that bitch is a celebrity). So hopefully an exciting autumn for the Trousered Apes blog.

I've added a few links to the website - basic fun sites that I get a lot of my information from (BTW - learned more from these sites than in undergrad/grad school). One of them is a former high level Asian commodities trader with key insider contacts at the major banks. He's been making the rounds of Alternative Media and he has a new website - 'Rogue Money'. He granted me permission to link to his site. Enjoy!

Today's blog deals with the waning Red Sox/Yankees MLB 'feud' that has lasted about 100 years. As a devout fan of Boston sports, my passion for the competitive rivalries has historically been through the roof. There are lots of great rivalries in sports, but Boston/NY takes the cake in my book. It carries over into every sport, and both fan bases enjoy the media circus that typically follows. However, now that Red Sox fans don't need to salivate over what it would be like to witness a World Series victory (2004, 2007, and a solid chance in 2013) means the passion can subside a little bit. It also means we can take stock of the Sox/Yankees 'rivalry' and where it has basically evolved to.

The historic 2004 WS year was not only epic because of the end result, but also because it meant that the Red Sox came back from a 3-0 series deficit to win the series 4-3 in NY. It was a wet dream for Red Sox fans, since we'd never beaten the Yankees when it mattered - the playoffs. New York also has 28 WS championships and is a good ten ahead of the second place St. Louis Cardinals in the WS trophy category. It got me thinking - why has this rivalry died down in its passion over the past decade? I used to live for Sox/Yankees games, now I'll watch a few innings and then go read Zero Hedge for two hours or work out. Is it me? Or is the magic gone? Here are five reasons why its trending down.

1) The Sox won in 2004 - all we ever wanted was to see a WS victory. We got it (or two).

The 2004 season, as mentioned earlier, featured a colossal meltdown by the Yankees on our way to a four game sweep of the 104-58 St. Louis Cardinals. In a one week span, we went from backs against the wall against the Yankees to World Series champs on the night of an eery Blood Moon. That pretty much changed everything. No more 1918 chants. No more Curse of the Bambino bullshit. No more Bucky Dent, Aaron Boone, and whatever other player that killed the Red Sox. We won our championship, so anything else would be secondary. It's like when Frodo destroyed the ring and vanquished Sauron in Return of the King - the meaningless battles they fought on the way back home to The Shire were afterthoughts. He accomplished his main goal, anything else was icing. Much the same for the Red Sox. You aren't going to get a better storyline than 2004, and thanks to that cast of idiots, many elderly Beantown residents could die happy.

2) We started to spend like the Yankees.

Here are the payrolls of the 'rebirthed' Red Sox once new ownership came in:

2002 - 108m
2003 - 100m
2004 - 125m
2005 - 121m
2006 - 120m
2007 - 143m
2008 - 134m
2009 - 123m
2010 - 163m
2011 - 161m
2012 - 173m
2013 - 173m

In that same time period, the Yankees went from 125m to as high as 210m in 2008. They are now hovering under 200m, but expect to cut some contracts to get under the 189m luxury tax threshold. But here's the deal - we realized we couldn't beat the Yankees on the field with our own farm system and the retreads that we typically signed well past their prime to bloated contracts (see Brett Saberhagen, Mike Lansing, Dante Bichette, Carl Everett, etc in the leadup to the team getting sold), woefully underperformed. So we started signing guys like Manny Ramirez, traded for Curt Schilling, Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, overpaid JD Drew, foolishly signed Carl Crawford, acquired Adrian Gonzalez, and took a chance on David Wells, Mike Cameron, Matt Clement, and John Lackey. This stuff adds up. And while some of these moves worked out well (ie - Manny, Schilling, Beckett, Lowell), it took away the token Red Sox fan talking point to Yankees fans - "You guys buy your World Series trophies. Sox would be perennial champs if we spent 200m each year." Well, here we are. Hovering around 170m in payroll, with no indications that this will fall below 150m anytime soon. The Yankees still laughably bloated too, but really old and injury-prone. They weren't even fun to laugh at this year, because most of their starters were on the DL. Plus it makes it hard to make fun of a team when your team blows an 11 game lead to an expansion team and chokes on a big fat baseball karma dick, missing the playoffs in dramatic fashion as the Yankees (intentionally I think) blow a 7-0 lead against the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011. When you join your competition in the money game, you sour some sports passion. Just the way it is.

3. Both fan bases are obnoxious.

It's not like Red Sox fans have the moral authority when it comes to respectful fan bases. Yeah yeah, Yankees fans are arrogant pricks, they teased us nonstop forever, they always win the division, they always spank us when it counts, blah blah blah. Well finally Sox fans get a small smidgeon of what the Yankees have, and we become insufferably cocky, like we've just erased the 21 championship gap that separates us. You go to Fenway in Yankees gear, you're called a 'cocksucking douchebag'. You go to Yankee Stadium in Red Sox gear, you're called a 'dirty faggot'. Just the way it is. Contrast that with some of the midwesterners I've spoken to who have a healthy respect for their rivals. They clap on a good play by their opponent, tip their cap, and don't flip their shit and wish Ebola virus on the opposing fans. Can't say the same about the Sox/Yankees rivalry. I've actually uttered "Niiine ahhhh levvvvin" under my breath and wished A-Rod would hang himself with a belt while masterbating. God forgive me for these sinful thoughts. But that's the way it is after a lifetime of Red Sox ineptitude pre-2004. Both fan bases know their sports, have intense, healthy passions for their teams, but also maintain a smug arrogance that turns off the rest of the country. So now we're basically lumped together, with less to show for it than the Yankees.

4. The Yankees will never be supplanted by the Red Sox as most winningest franchise, so why the intense hate and where is it supposed to lead?

In case you've never spoken with a New Yorker, you're constantly reminded how many championships the Yankees have. I was reminded of that constantly in college. But it finally occurred to me (albeit late in the game) - no matter what happens in our lifetimes, the Yankees have such a large lead on the Red Sox that we can't even hope to chip away at the deficit. The likelihood of the Red Sox winning a World Series without the Yankees winning one a few short years later is pretty low. Both franchises are set up for WS runs every four years or so. The odds make it extremely likely that in any given decade, either team will each win at least one championship while appearing in at least two World Series. It's one thing if its the NFL, where the Steelers have six championships, and the 49ers/Cowboys five, with the Giants and Packers on their heels with four. Those are title chases that mean something and could probably change the complexion of NFL history in a short period of time. But baseball? Come on, that ship has sailed. Yankees won last century, and will probably win this century. Don't waste your elevated blood pressure on a 'rivalry' that isn't even technically a 'rivalry' if you look at historic accomplishments.

5. The retirement tour of Mariano Rivera proved that some players rise above rivalries.

In case you didn't know, the greatest closer in the history of baseball is now officially retired as of Sunday. Mariano Rivera hangs up his cleats after dominating baseball for 16 seasons (19 if you include his set-up years). While we always have a soft spot in Boston for him after the infamous blown save in Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS, his class and competitiveness has made him one of pro sports' eternal 'good guys'. As a result of his class, he received 'retirement parties' at each MLB stadium that he played at this year. Last week in Fenway, he was greeted to a standing ovation (for mixed reasons probably), and presented numerous parting gifts for a job well done over the years. The fans appreciated his good humor and status as an ambassador of the game, and gave him the reception he always deserved.

This got me thinking - did I ever really hate the guy? How many countless classy players have gone through these locker rooms, were stellar figures in their communities, never disrespected opponents, never used steroids, never had sordid love affairs or rape convictions in their personal lives, and still got booed mercilessly by a rabid Boston or New York fan base? I had to reassess my personal history after watching these Mo Rivera tributes. Derek Jeter will get a similar treatment when he retires in a few years, and I would hope and expect that Red Sox fans would give him a similar standing ovation at the appropriate time. He basically won me over when he famously dove into the 20th row to catch a foul ball, as Nomar Garciaparra moped in the Red Sox dugout like a little bitch. Yes, I owned a 'Yankees Suck, Jeter Swallows' tshirt. Yes, I chuckled when Jeter got injured for most of the season ten years ago. But now I've done a 180 - you can't hate two guys that survived the steroid years with their reputations intact.

Honorable mention:

"It's only a game/You can't control the outcome." - my wife, a Yankees fan.

Damn. Why are women always right?