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Baseball Told the Right WayIn-depth Baseball analysis on various topics regarding the sport we all love!
There is no curse.
There is just something different about baseball in Boston. With all due respect to the great fans of New York, Philly, Chicago, St. Louis, there is just something different. I really can't work my head around it, but there is a reason Red Sox games get higher ratings than the Patriots' Super Bowl. There is a reason, however idiotic it may be, that "Yankees Suck!" chants have started everywhere from high-school cafeterias, Super Bowl parades, concerts, opera houses, and church. I'll let you decide which one I made up.
There is something to be said about coming so close and always falling short, but the disappointment does not define the experience. It does not make casual sports fans passionate and avid sports fans insane when April rolls around. The disappointment is only part of the experience, the painful part. Some people would have you believe that the devotion and obsession of Red Sox fans is somehow related to the curse, or the losing, but I've never seen Yankee fans lose interest, and like it or not (on both sides) New Yorkers and Bostonians have a lot more in common than they would care to admit, even outside of sports.
"People say the Yankees are the team to beat. But it's really the other way around. They're the ones that have to beat everybody."And they do. It's not often we can take words of wisdom from an obscure pitcher who has only started one game against the Yankees, but it's true. Nobody at the top stays there by sitting back and admiring their successes, ask the '02 Angels. The Yankees have never rested, never paused, never taken 'no' for an answer. Like all successful organizations, it starts at the top. George Steinbrenner, despite his faults, remains the single most devoted owner in any professional sport. The Patriots saw what a devoted fan turned owner could do for a franchise, the Dallas Mavericks are watching it now.
One of Steinbrenner's best traits is that he demands the best out of his employees. If you don’t give it all, you are gone, and this trickles down to his general manager, Brian Cashman, who remains one of the most underrated (how is this possible) GMs in the game. Cashman has engineered a run of Yankee teams that has to be included in any mention of sports dynasties. Most of the time, Yankee success has come at the price of Red Sox disappointment. The Red Sox now have six straight years in second place, many of those years good enough to be a playoff team, if only the Yankees would take a year off. All signs pointed to last year being that year, but then again every year seems like that year.
Every year, regular season matchups between the Red Sox and Yankees raise the intensity another notch. The intensity becomes a fever in the playoffs, and it became a fire in last years playoffs. We all know what happened, all I have to say is that they beat up our groundskeeper.
Regardless, the Red Sox came within five outs of a trip to the World Series. A team finding itself up three runs with the bases empty and five outs to go will win the game 96.7% of the time, although things like the law of averages just do not apply to the Red Sox. After all, someone needs to be the 3.3%.
And then the offseason.
I'd actually like some old-timer to humor me with a story about one with more, but there was certainly more drama this offseason than any in my life. The Red Sox traded for one of the best starting pitchers, and signed one of the best relievers in the game. In doing so, they essentially replaced 300 innings of John Burkett, Todd Jones, and Ramiro Mendoza with 300 innings of Curt Schilling and Keith Foulke. There is no doubt in my mind that if Curt Schilling had been pitching in October instead of Burkett, the Red Sox would have tested the best offense in the league against the dominance of Josh Beckett. To really put a dagger into worried Yankee fans, the Sox then came within hours of acquiring my arch nemesis, who might also happen to be the best player in the game.
It has never been easy before, and it sure wasn’t going to be any different this year. Always the first to recognize an opportunity to put the up-starteddy little kid back where he belongs, Steinbrenner and Cashman countered every move, and then proceeded to up the ante. They acquired two legitimate aces to more than makeup for the departure of the ambiguously gay duo. They also signed one of the scariest hitters in the game and fixed their most serious flaw from 03, the bullpen. The Yankees were already a better team.
Then Cashman pulled some magic Yankee perks out of his magic bean bag and shocked the baseball world. Can anyone really say that, above all other feelings, they weren't shocked that Arod decided to move to third base (however dumb it may be) if only the Yankees would come calling.
Throw in some insults (and chairs) tossed around, Steinbrenner making Larry Lucchino look like the clown that he is, a little too much media hype, a little too many dumb player comments, a little too long to wait after another game seven disappointment, and you have a nation more than ready. Red Sox Nation has been waiting for this season for what seems like 86 years. We only thought it was happening all those other times. This time its for real, and we're not leaving anything up to the law of averages. When BH Kim outduels Kerry Wood in a Game 6 shutout performance, the percentage chance of the Red Sox losing this one will be zero. This time, when another Yankee fan says 1918, all I have to do is smile and say 2004. Mom and Dad, I promise it won't be me setting fires to the city in October, but I can't promise much more than that.
The Red Sox and Yankees play seven times in the next ten days.
Those of you who know me personally, try to understand the fine line between intensity and insanity. Give me space if I need it, and keep the snide comments to yourself if you value the bone structure in your face.