Friday, October 10, 2008

Rivalries

I’m going to go out on a limb here and officially shoot myself in the foot regarding my readers. This entry is inspired by a recent post over on River Ave Blues which asked the question of how we (as Yankee fans) wanted the Red Sox to lose.

I never quite got into the “hate” part of a good rivalry. If you are a Yankee fan, it is commonly expected that you hate the Red Sox. A few crazed fans take this hatred to an extreme and once or twice a year you’ll read a story in the news about a fight or assault happening where the motive was trash talking by fans of either the Yankees or the Sox. Earlier this year a person was actually run over by a car in a Yankees/Sox related incident.

When the Yankees play the Red Sox, I root for the Yankees. I get on the phone and call up a good friend who is a die-hard Red Sox fan and frequently taunt him. During the regular season, if the Yanks and Sox are vying for first place or a wild card, I’ll cheer for any team that beats the Sox, improving New York’s standings.

If the Yankees get eliminated, or if the Sox play some one other than NY in the playoffs, I’ll usually root for our long-time rivals, the Red Sox. I’ll even join my friend (who makes a wicked home-brew) to watch the game. That’s right. On occasion I’ll root for the Red Sox (but only if it does not adversely affect the Yankees in any way).

Here are two reasons: First, I lived in Boston (and very close to Fenway) for about two years and have some connection with the area.

Secondly, and most importantly, If two teams have a rivalry and one team completely stinks, it’s not much of a rivalry. If the Red Sox never make the playoffs or always exit early, the rivalry starts to lose some of it’s luster. When both teams are competitive in the regular season and in the post-season, then the rivalry really starts to take on meaning and have some history. Some of the greatest NY-Boston games have happened in the playoffs. If Boston never makes it there, after a while the rivalry becomes an afterthought.

Also, if teams in your division do well, it makes you look better. The Yankees 2008 season isn’t quite as bad in retrospect when you consider that Tampa and Boston were two of the best teams in the league.

This theory doesn’t apply just to my favorite baseball team. In college hoops, I’m always 100% behind my alma mater Syracuse University. In the NCAA tournament, I’ll frequently root for other Big East teams, even Georgetown, when they are not playing SU. As far as hoops rivalries go, SU-Georgetown is about as big as Yankees-Red Sox.

There’s nothing better than seeing my team beat our rivals, but when a game doesn’t involve my team, I give the rivals a little love. College football is a classic sport where you definitely should root for your competition to do well. Many of the polls and rankings consider strength of schedule directly or indirectly and having the teams you play win a lot of their games can have a big impact on your team’s ranking.

I’ve been called out by a few people who claim that “I’m not a true fan” and have heard other, cruder replies as well. I can somewhat understand those who root against a team’s biggest rival, but I don’t necessarily agree with it. Oftentimes, having a rival do well makes my team look better and as a true fan, it’s always about having my team on top. If you want to disagree with me that’s fine, but if you think I’m not a “true fan”, then you’ve got a lot to learn.

3 comments:

Brad said...

It's funny but as a life long Yankee fan I never payed much attention to the Red Sox. With the exception of '78 there wasn't much of a rivalry from the Yankees perspective anyway. They never played against each other in the playoff's until '99. Having said that then came the "red sox nation". John Henry has done an outstanding job in creating this rivalry from the ground up. Now that they have unleashed the dog's (Sox fans) and created one of the most annoying fan bases in the history of sports, all bets are off.

I could never, ever, ever root for the Sox's. As a Yankee fan it just seems wrong. Pedro tossing Zimmer to the ground? How many Yankees have been hit by Sox's pitchers? How about anytime Schilling opens his mouth?

Jeff said...

Excellent points Brad. Johny Henry certainly has done a lot to add fuel to this fire.

Ah, the Pedro/Zim incident. I suppose that's enough by itself to make anyone dislike the Red Sox. Personally, I attribute that to Pedro being a dirtbag more than anything else, but I definitely see your point.

Schilling running his mouth off always makes me laugh. Another case of a pro athlete with his head so far up his own backside he can't see the light of day.

Brad said...

I agree that Pedro is a dirt bag but it just seems that more dirt bags end up as Red Sox's then Yankees. Just look at the current crop like Youklis, Papelbon, and Buholtz to name a few.

Also I'm not sure where this rivalry would be without ESPN pushing it along. If anything I was more ambivalent then not. I didn't care one way or the other. Now I am a committed Sox hater.