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Jewish World Review
Oct. 31, 2007
/ 19 Mar-Cheshvan 5768
Time to Hate the Red Sox?
Once upon a time, there was a baseball team that spent far more than any other, signed mercenary free agents, presented a haughty and superior demeanor, and spawned an arrogant, loud-mouthed fan base famous for taking over other stadiums and drowning out the home fans. It was a team nearly universally hated by others. It was, of course, the New York Yankees.
In 2004, however, the Yankees famously lost the American League Championship Series to the Boston Red Sox after having led three games to none. The perennial underdogs had crushed the Evil Empire, and the Sox proceeded to win the World Series for the first time in nearly forever. The Yankees, meantime, went on to lose in the first round of the playoffs for the next three seasons, while the Red Sox have now won another World Series.
But these facts remain: they've joined the Yankees in tossing around tons of money; their "Red Sox Nation" bit is wearing thin; and their swagger, as exemplified by Manny Ramirez's reaction to a meaningless home run in this year's ALCS against Cleveland, is more than a bit off-putting. In short, we have reached the stage where this question must be asked: Is it time for the rest of us to start hating the Red Sox?
It's important to understand the necessity to baseball's health of having a team we all love to hate. When the Yankees went into prolonged funks from the mid-60's to the mid 70's and again in the pre-Joe Torre era of the late 80's and early 90's, it was not a good thing for the sport. Attendance and interest suffered when mediocrity reigned in The Bronx.
Another such slump may not be in the offing, but, with Torre gone, players like Alex Rodriguez testing free agency, and George Steinbrenner handing the reins of power to his sons, one gets the feeling the era of Yankee dominance, already in decline, could be in for a long-term sabbatical.
It might seem strange to hate a team that spent so many decades enduring heartbreak, but those days are obviously over. If the Yankees do, indeed, fade back into the pack, there is little else in the Eastern Division to stand in the free-spending way of Boston for years to come. We might have to endure a long period of post-season appearances by the Red Sox and their Nation.
Besides, who else would there be to hate? The Angels? Cleveland? Detroit? Of the last twelve World Series, the Yankees and Red Sox have won six between them, while only the Florida Marlins have won more than one. Can you really work up any hate for the Marlins?
Sorry, Red Sox Nation, but success has its downside. Your team is no longer the sentimental favorite. They are the champions once again, and their future looks brighter than that of their arch-rival's. So revel in it, and rub the visiting teams' noses in it (even the home teams' when you can buy out their tickets), but somebody has to be the bad guy. Congratulations...it's you.
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JWR contributor Pat Sajak is the recipient of three Emmys, a Peoplesí Choice Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He's currently the host of Wheel of Fortune.
© 2007, Pat Sajak