As I predicted yesterday, the Yankees referred to Babe Ruth today (via his retired plaque and number at Tampa’s Monument Park). With the winter storm hitting the Northeast this weekend, I’m sure many of the teams are glad to be in warmer, sunnier climates for this February.
I was reading up on baseball news yesterday and this morning, and so much of it isn’t worth talking about as much as it gets talked about. I started this blog with the full intent remaining positive and sharing with whomever may stumble across it why it’s the greatest sport in the world and why the Yankees are the great team of all time. But so much of the news, especially concerning the 2013 Yankees is so negative — their aging lineup and bullpen, possible PED usage once again, nasty contract and trade rumors, bad managing (or is it the front office?)… the list just goes on.
I skimmed through four baseball magazines in the store last night. These weren’t your ordinary general sports pages, but the ones specifically created just to cover baseball. According to their predictions, the 2013 Yankees will wind up either 1st in the AL East (but lose to Detroit in the playoffs), 2nd in the AL East and miss the Wild Card slot, or last in the AL East. And every one of the magazines had some snarky article about the “aging” of the Yankees and even some not nice things to say about the guys on the prospect list. I had to walk away from the newsstand and quickly; it was making me angry.
Look, I get fairness in journalism (it was my first major in college). But this was coming off as just more anti-Yankee hatred once again. Perhaps, Bostonians and other lesser rivals would be proud of these “journalists”. I guess I’m just tired of the bias against one team becoming a hatred of the team, its players, its coaches, its fans, and its city. Even the players don’t really get into this rivalry because they realize at the end of the day, it’s still a business, and they as commodities can be traded to a “rival” team if the price is right.
Babe Ruth’s trade may have started the Boston-New York rivalry, but long-term fans of both teams remember Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Johnny Damon, Rickey Henderson, Bob Melvin, Bill Wight, and (current Yankee pitcher) David Aardsma are just a handful of players who have played for both teams at some point in their careers.
I think of the movie Fever Pitch often when I think of this rivalry. There is a scene towards the end of the movie when Jimmy Fallon’s character has chosen the Red Sox over his girlfriend (played by Drew Barrymore), the Red Sox have lost horribly once again, and Jimmy and his friends are commiserating at a nearby bar over the Sox loss. They look over and see three Sox players having dinner and just hanging out like friends. At first, Jimmy’s friends are offended that the ball players aren’t as miserable as the fans are about their loss, but that’s when it hits Jimmy. The players know it’s just one game out of 162. They still have to get up the next morning and play another game against another team, and life moves on because it has to. Rivalry for the fans or not, they have a job to do, whether they play the Yankees or the Royals or the Astros.
I suppose I will offend some Yankee fans for my Fever Pitch reference, but what I like about the movie is what I like about baseball. It’s about baseball, it’s about love, and it’s about loyalty. And the fact they actually won the Series that year, breaking the “Curse” (something the filmmakers had no clue would happen while they were filming) was a fun piece of trivia to which any baseball fan can relate. We all want good things to happen for our team, even if it happens out of the blue.
So let’s remember today the things we like about baseball. It isn’t (or rather shouldn’t be) the hate of another team — they could end up on your team next year! It isn’t the money or the fame. It’s the spirit of the game that supersedes all that superficial nonsense. It’s looking out at the field and instead of seeing 9 men, seeing the 9 little boys that once played tee-ball and couldn’t find a baseball on the field for anything. It’s looking at 9 boys who slept with their gloves under their pillows and prayed every night that God would let them play the big leagues just once. And it’s the fans who love introducing the sport they played to their sons who might just one day grow up to don pinstripes and pitch that perfect game or hit that walk-off home run.