Monday, December 27, 2010

Yanks/Sox Worst Nightmare: The Boston Yanks

Part of the impetus of this blog was trying to discover and/or build a community of Yankees fans living in enemy territory in Boston.

I can say with certainty that there are thousands of Yankees fans living in and around Boston without a meeting place, bar, community hall or so much as a street corner where they can convene.

Yanks fans in Boston are, in a nut shell, hermits of the sports world: huddling inside, never revealing their true passions too loudly in public, and nary a glance outside (especially when the Sox sign major free agents...).

So you can imagine my shock and amusement when Googling "boston yanks" revealed the following: Boston Yanks, NFL team from 1944-48.

So, what if the Yanks moved to Boston and became the Boston Yankees? After all, it's not the franchise itself but the location that breeds a fan base (just look at teams that shift locations, from the baseball Giants to the Sonics/Thunder in the NBA.) Would I be forced into rooting for the Mets? For a Boston-based team?

Would New York suddenly despise Derek Jeter? How would the city of Boston receive the incoming Yankees? How would they sell any tickets in that market? What would happen to the rivalry? Would the Yanks suddenly sport tons of facial hair and stop showering?

Better move to the rundown before my head explodes -- this is like contemplating infinity.

  • It's no secret just how lefty-heavy the Sox will be...does the team agree that this is a problem?
  • Just uncovered a solid new site for deep fantasy leagues called check out the second-tier prospects listed and how the Yanks and Sox stack up (hint: it's pretty lopsided).
  • Everyone is talking about how the Sox will be the team to beat in the AL East. But has there really been a changing of the guard in the division? Last time I checked, titles aren't won in December. Come to think of it, regular season games aren't won in December. Patience, people!

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Thanks for reading - Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Future Free Agents Not So Bright

Since failing to sign Cliff Lee, the party line I've heard most from staunch Yankees fans has been to point out that the team known for spending smart and spending big now has a ton of extra cash to blow. This could only mean more/better players to surround an already potent core. Right?

Not so fast.

Take a look at the future class of free agents next offseason. Specifically, scroll down to the list of future available SPs.

Slim pickin's if you're the Yanks, no?

The best case scenario is that they sign somebody like CJ Wilson, who has proven himself to be a capable No. 2 starter, throws hard from the left side, and is, by his own admittance, a less talented Cliff Lee.

But he will be 31 next offseason, and the Yanks aren't getting any younger. Looking around the league at other top-of-the-rotation anchors worthy of long-term contracts and you'll see the trend -- all the good young arms came up in that team's system (for the most part). The list includes Felix Hernandez, Zack Greinke, Adam Wainwright, Tim Lincecum, David Price, John Lester, and Ubaldo Jimenez.

They all seem to have risen within their own organizations to prominence, which gives their teams a distinct financial advantage until they start to command more dollars after minor league contracts expire.

I'm not saying that the Yanks have no chance to land a solid young arm via trade, but I do believe it's time we start paying at least half as much attention to developing minor league talent that can one day elevate to the top of the rotation -- the next Phil Hughes or (gasp) Joba Chamberlain, if you will.

Otherwise, we risk the worst fate any team can suffer (and no, not losing) -- becoming a stale, aging, middle of the road team that reaches the playoffs but never wins.

This is a premature assumption, but given the A-Rod deal, Jeter, Mariano, Posada, and the rotation behind CC, it's a valid one as we enter a new decade.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

First LeBron, Now Lee? What's Wrong, New York?

I read an interesting post on the howiGit blog (that's How I G It) about how the Yanks lost their mojo because they failed to sign Crawford. The comments section blew up because nobody this side of the Mass Pike believed that to be true - the Yanks were simply focusing on the free agent that could make the biggest impact on the division and playoffs in Cliff Lee. Crawford made far less sense for his price tag and position than the lefty from Arkansas.

Well, now that the Yanks whiffed on Lee -- arguably the biggest swing and a miss since the Knicks' missed on the LeBron-a-thon -- I'm siting here in Boston, cowering inside my office, hoping my coworkers and local friends forget that I'm a Yanks aficionado. Considering the banner, drawings and mug at my desk, something tells me I've made myself known.

Either way, I can finally understand the Red Sox mentality pre-2004 (and the mentality that still lingers for most fans). I saw the Sox pay big bucks for a big free agent, make a swift trade using their minor league resources, and now gloat over the Yanks losing out on their one must-have free agent.

Coupled with my love of LeBron's Heat early struggles (damn you, 9 game winning streak...), I at last relate to the pleasure Sox fans get from the Yanks' misery, and the pain they feel when the Yanks succeed.

I've been in Boston two years, three months and 13 days, and I am at long last feeling the sting that my neighbors know too well.

Now if you'll excuse me, I hear someone coming and must take cover under this desk.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Wish List

This holiday season, give thanks...that you root for one side or the other in this great rivalry.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Red Sox Out-Yankee the Yankees

Quick - name this baseball team:

It trades for big names to extend them with big money, signs high profile position players to record contracts, trots out All Stars at most positions, has a soft-spoken, unimposing GM who gets the job done every season, and a fan base that's become so used to winning, anything short of a pennant or title is considered failure.

Ladies and gentlemen, your Boston Red Sox.

Okay, I've written about the similarities between the Sox and Yanks before. This is nothing new. I'm just trying to knock Sox fans down from their high after they acquired both Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford, the top two acquisitions thus far and the top two not named Cliff Lee.

But the new-age, new-roster Red Sox are making it increasingly difficult for a Yanks fan to earn an honest living in Boston! No more widespread misery and doubt -- just absurd spending and talent. As one friend and diehard Sox fan told me, "Money argument aside, we are f***ing STACKED!"

There goes the neighborhood for this pinstripe-clad citizen...

Let's bring the money argument back in -- has this changed the rivalry? Eh, not really. The teams will still play an obscene number of times. ESPN will still run the game previews, analysis and highlights through their overworked hype machine. And the fan bases will be at each others' throats just the same.

But this might change the rivalry to a third party -- finally pushing them over the edge. This is sure starting to look less like the battle between good and evil and more like Alien vs. Predator.

No matter who wins -- most of humanity loses.

(Oh...and if you're wondering, the idea of the Sox essentially cementing themselves as no different than their most hated rival makes me 5% happy, 95% want to hide...)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Adrian Gonzalez May Mean No Carl Crawford for Boston

Adrian Gonzalez coming to the Red Sox means the Yankees will now need to pitch around another deadly hitter -- this one, a lefty who can easily pull one out in both New York and Boston.

But the trade by Boston, though swift by offseason standards, may have come just a tad too late and with a few too many uncertainties attached for the Red Sox if they still hope to sign Carl Crawford.

Let me explain the domino effect here...

Domino 1: Nationals sign Jayson Werth.
Werth, rumored to be on the radar of Boston GM Theo Epstein, landed a whale of a deal with Washington (seven years/$126 million), thus jacking the price for Crawford, who was likely valued higher on the Red Sox offseason wish list. (He's younger, better defensively, and most importantly, would be moving away from the Sox' divisional rival in Tampa.)

It's easy to recognize that super agent Scott Boras is going to use the Werth deal as a benchmark to exceed when pitching his client Crawford around the league.

Domino 2: Red Sox trade for Adrian Gonzalez without extending him.
The initial thinking by the media was that the Sox would only trade for Gonzo if they knew they could sign him, as hinted at here. However, in a move that fans seem to love (perhaps without recognizing any longer term domino effect), Boston wound up with the big first baseman in the end, without signing him to an extension.

This means that the Sox have A-Gon for 2011 for $6.2 million -- a bargain deal that will be more than tripled by the time he signs his next contract.

The Sox are hoping beyond hope that he will sign sometime between now and the end of next season, but negotiations are ongoing. (A-Gon wants a Teixeira-like deal in the neighborhood of eight years/$180 million; Boston is countering with seven/$154 million). It's dangerous for the Sox to give up some top prospects without a deal in place, but they allegedly have the framework for the extension ready to sign, and Gonzalez apparently really wanted to be in Boston.

Bottom line: the Red Sox have given up talent for Gonzalez in '11, so the extension must now be a top priority for the organization.

Domino 3: Yet to fall. My guess? Cliff Lee.
Should the Yankees (or Rangers) sign Lee -- who is also being pursued by the Red Sox -- it would ideally turn Boston's full attention on Crawford if you're a Sox fan. However, with Gonzalez already having cost the Sox some resources in the trade, it wouldn't make sense for them to abandon that plan or even focus a large deal on Crawford before Gonzo. They've completed a trade and must now commit serious money to that player first.

In the end, the Sox may lose on both Lee and Crawford for someone who may just be a replacement to the 2010 Beltre and an upgrade from the usual Beltre (ignoring any questions on Kevin Youkilis-to-third). The solution might be that the Sox heap more money onto the team's salary if they can, or they could opt to use Mike Cameron and/or JD Drew (both expiring) as trade bait. 

Either way, the next major domino to fall this offseason might be Crawford, but chances look slim that it would land by Landsdowne Street.

And now, the rundown!

  • Despite the influx of power bats to the AL East, the Yanks have remained quiet thus far.
  • NESN asks if Patriots-Jets has passed Sox-Yanks as the best Boston-NY rivalry. The world responds: um, no?
  • howiGit offers the Boston take on the new Adrian in Boston.
  • Is Russell Martin the next player for which both the Yanks and Sox compete?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Video: Red Sox Fan vs. Yankees Fan

I traveled the streets of New York and New England to film some fan interactions recently. Here's one that particularly jumped out. Enjoy...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fans Beware: Sports Cliche's Have Taken Over

Weekends are best spent watching sports...which, when there are no games on, means watching people talk about sports...which, when there are no educated people on TV, means watching people talk in cliches about sports. So I dug up this oldie but goodie that I churned out in 2006 for the Trinity Tripod, my college newspaper. Enjoy...

Posted: 10/24/06

Sports fans be forewarned -- your world is plagued. It's been infected by something so prevalent that it's gone unnoticed by nearly everyone in sports.

This disease is more rampant than steroids, more obnoxious than Terrell Owens, more inane than comparisons to MJ, and more unintelligent than Tim McCarver (yes, Tim McCarver -- the situation is that serious). Fans and athletes alike, you are all becoming victims of the sports cliché.

A cliché often uses an alias to disguise itself (truism, axiom, adage, motto, aphorism, maxim), but don't be fooled -- they're all the same and they're all becoming the most predictable aspect of sports since JV/Varsity scrimmages. Ask any coach and he or she will say that "Defense wins championships." Read about a player in the paper fresh off another terrible performance, and A-Rod will tell you, "I need to stop thinking and react."

A recent poll on revealed that "taking it one game at a time" is the most overused statement in sports, while 45 percent of voters believe Dick Vitale is cliché-dependent and an additional 81 percent admitted that polls on sports clichés are in fact cliché themselves.

Whatever the general public may believe, clichés offer a degree of truth that everyone can understand. However, they have become so ingrained in an athlete's speech that reading an article or watching an interview doesn't offer you anything honest, new, or exciting.

A running back interviewed for his three-TD outburst might tell the reporter, "There's no 'I' in team," while a basketball star sidelined with an injury claims, "My teammates have really stepped up." Flip the situations and you can just as easily read about a running back thanking his offensive line for "stepping up" while the basketball player correctly spells out the word team.

The always-popular "effort adage" is a prime example of the cliché plague. When an athlete says, "We gave 110 percent out there," he or she is really telling you, "I received no real education whatsoever." The beauty of this saying is that, like all sports maxims, you know exactly what the athletes mean, but you never take the time to really examine what they say. Ever wonder who first decided that giving 100 percent of your effort was simply insufficient? The team gave every ounce of effort it could muster, but the coaches demanded 10 percent more. Did the ball boy get a chance? Did a drained team hand over the helmets to the cheerleaders for a few downs?

It's not that I don't understand the benefits of the sports cliché; it's just that the language of sports is becoming routine, part of a string of anticipated statements. There's nothing novel about these sayings. There's no reason to listen when most professional athletes speak. This is why Shaq needs his own interview-highlight reel/live show/presidential nomination.

Yet while Shaq has his share of absurd statements, the Big Aristotle would never utter something as ridiculous as, "The proof is in the pudding." What athletes, coaches, and analysts probably don't realize is that they're quoting the 17th century novel Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, which states, "The proof of the pudding is in the eating." This is essentially used to say that the truth is obvious when you examine the results. But it's also commonly used to make you sound incredibly foolish. "The proof is in the pudding." Great. Now let's use our minds to discuss sports a bit more intelligently, if we can.

But, inevitably, more clichés surface. "We beat ourselves today." No, no you didn't. The scoreboard did not read "Tigers 7, Tigers 2." Last time I checked, the Cardinals scored seven runs for themselves. Maybe Justin Verlander should have pitched around Albert Pujols, but Verlander didn't throw himself a pitch, sprint home, grab a bat and Cardinals cap, and swing for the fences.

There's no denying the obvious truth behind this cliché: mistakes decrease your chances of winning. But you do not under any circumstances beat yourself. Fletcher Reede in Liar Liar beat himself. Instead, what you are doing is offering your opponent several chances to beat you and win the game themselves.

Pitching to Albert Pujols with a runner on and first base open is helping your opponent, but Pujols might still fly out. Playing zone against Ray Allen is helping your opponent, but Allen still needs to knock down his jumpers. A turnover only hurts if the other team can capitalize in the end and turn your TO's into their TD's. No team beats themselves. Period. Except the Oakland Raiders -- they beat themselves.

While truisms might convey meaning, they rarely capture the historical or the unbelievable in sports. They tread wearily through the mundane and routine. Every player recognizes that "it's not about individual awards." Every team "leaves it all out on the field." Every coach "takes it one game at a time."

In today's fast-paced world of short attention spans, athletes throw out clichés to reporters like bones to a pack of dogs. Since sports figures are under constant scrutiny, they must be careful about how they present each statement. They're followed not just on the playing field but into the locker rooms, into clubs and restaurants, and into their homes.

Thanks to this constant pressure, clichés have become the quickest and safest answers. They can't be misconstrued in the papers. So, as boring and overused as they are, sports sayings create a useful, ready-made language impenetrable to the media.

So it's the media which is at fault for this plague in its over-analytic nature. And the media, as we all know, will analyze absolutely anything. Just look at this article. As much as I hate to admit it, the proof is in the pudding.
© Copyright 2010 The Tripod

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Yanks/Sox Rivalry Ninth Commandment

There's nothing more terrifying than knowing you're surrounded by the enemy. Well, perhaps that's trumped by knowing even the law enforcement who serve and protect would sympathize with your attacker should anyone hear me shout in favor of the Yanks.

Living in Boston, I've learned to love the abundance of sports bars and pubs and loathe the sports fans who inhabit them. I imagine the same would hold true if the scenery shifted to New York, with one notable exception - there are zero New York-friendly bars in Boston. Everything is too small, too homogenous, and too centered on the Red Sox.

On the rare occasion when I venture to a pub for games, I've been forced into a series of knee-high fist pumps under the table, coupled with some discreet, satisfied nodding. That's a sad existence for any Sox or Yanks fan.

In my travels around the Boston area, I've seen Georgia Bulldogs, Minnesota Vikings, and New Orleans Saints all represented in local watering holes, but Googling 'yankees bar boston' returns simply...

Yankees/Red Sox Rivalry Commandments

Friday, August 6, 2010

Forbes "Best Fans" List: An Unfair Measurement

On Monday, Forbes released this list of the best fans in all of sports. Sixteen teams across the Big Four sports in the US (baseball, basketball, football and, somehow, hockey) made the list, with the Yankees faithful finishing a disappointing 14th and Red Sox Nation landing the top spot.

I'm here to tell you: this wasn't a level playing field. One major characteristic each makes a comparison of Sox and Yanks fans anything but apples to apples.

First, start with the way these teams are viewed by their fans.

The teams in the rankings essentially fall into two categories. The much larger group is, predictably, franchises who win or have historically won, resulting in passionate fans because, hey, everybody loves a winner. In order of titles, this half is comprised of the Yanks (27), Canadiens (23), Celtics (17), Lakers (16), Red Wings (11), St. Louis Cardinals (10), Steelers (6), Cowboys (5), Spurs (4), Penguins (3), Patriots (3), and Colts (2).

In the other half are teams that are undeniably non-winners but whose fans are diehard, wearing team logos like a badge of honor. These are the Blackhawks, Phillies and Cavs. (You could make the case for the Phillies inching their way to the top group, but it seems too soon to move them over.)

Still missing from either group are those Red Sox fans. That's because they're in the unique position of balancing both sides. The 1918-2004 stretch promoted diehard fans who grew close to the team through the suffering, while the recent stretch could plant them among the winners circle.

The result is an unprecedented group of fans in a top-three market.

Second, the Sox fans don't have a choice.

This is a bit simpler to understand: put simply, the Red Sox are the only baseball team in their very large market, and the city is full of people who care.

In the Forbes list, only the Lakers and Yankees have to contend with fans that have options in the same sport and city (Clippers and Mets). Neither fan base makes the top 10 (the Lakers are 12), and neither could ever hope to make it. Both LA and New York are full of countless fans who can choose other teams in a given sport, meaning the Lakers and Yankees don't get that unified feeling across their markets the way Boston (and most of New England) does. 

On top of that, factor in the millions of people in these two cities who either aren't sports fans or are transplanted fans of other teams, and the diversity of LA and New York work against them heavily in the Forbes list.

Given all of this, it's easy to see how the Sox fan base ranks ahead of Yanks fans in a runaway.

Am I conceding here that Boston fans are better then those in New York? Absolutely not. They're just two completely different beasts which can't be compared under the Forbes standards. That's all I'm saying.

(And that Yanks fans are clearly better...)

  • Sox fans heading to Yankee Stadium this weekend brave the backlash of boos and beers. "The Pretty Good Sports Show" takes a comical look at Yanks fans offering fashion tips to the enemy. (The second half of the video is hilarious.)
  • NESN produces another Sox/Yanks gem with this rivalry trivia. My favorite part? When I finished and got to leave
  • With Youkilis out for the season, the Sox work out former Jays and Mets slugger Carlos Delgado.
  • And finally, to feed my post-series obsession with LOST, check out these Yankees players' cameos, much to Jack's dismay ("Red Sox Nation for life - get lost!") in this LOST spoof.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Johnny Damon Returns to Fenway

Did you know that Johnny Damon grew out his beard as a member of the Red Sox because it hurt to shave following a concussion in 2003? (He played with that concussion in the playoffs that year, mind you. That explains the beard...not sure about the speech thing.)

Did you know that, in 2003 and '04, Damon was third and fourth respectively in assists for Major League center fielders, and that his .992 fielding percentage is 14th best all-time at the position? (source)

Did you know that in the video game Major League Baseball Featuring Ken Griffey, Jr., Damon is black??? (It's true - check it out. And play the game, because it's simply classic.

The player some called the caveman and others called Baseball Jesus returns to Fenway tomorrow night for the first time as a non-Yankee visitor. Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe believes it's time to give him his long overdue ovation.

If you're on either side of the Sox/Yanks rivalry, it's worth a look, along with this gallery of Damon through the years.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Yanks/Sox Rivalry Eighth Commandment

Ted Williams set his own success aside when he said, "Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer." While four out of ten was his claim to fame when he hit .406 in 1941, his point is clear - it's hard to succeed in baseball.

It's no surprise, then, that in the two organizations where succeeding is imperative, the Red Sox and Yankees, fans adore an overlooked but vital breed of player - the surprise summer call-up.

Over 162 games, players inevitably get hurt or struggle. This paves the way for the minor leaguers who get that fateful call to join The Show. And when they help the Red Sox or Yankees keep winning, you better believe they'll be remembered fondly for a long, long time regardless of their career path afterwards.

They're usually not the top talent either. Those No. 1 studs need to be eased into a comfortable situation when the timing is right (or the financial roadmap - see Strasburg, Stephen). The unsung call-ups are also given a great deal of responsibility early in their careers - they're a Band-Aid fix for an injured regular, perhaps even a star.

But when they succeed, they earn their place in the hearts of Yanks and Sox fans who witness it.

Shane Spencer and Shelly Duncan did it with homers. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner did it with stolen bases. Aaron Small did it with perfection (10-0).

And unfortunately for the A-Rods and JD Drews of the rivalry, these players are given "worthy" status almost immediately, in a few short summer weeks. (Being homegrown doesn't hurt either.)

I was there in 2006, just a over a month into Melky Cabrera's first full Major League season, and sitting in front of me was a young girl with a sign: "The Melk Man Delivers on Sundays" (it was a Sunday game). I was there in 2008 when Brett Gardner laced a single to right for his first hit and RBI. And I can tell you firsthand that the fans cheered louder for these two than almost any player except the Core Four.

Why? Because they prove themselves quickly in big spots and help their team continue winning despite the players they're called up to replace. They're succeed on grit in a game that values getting your hands dirty.

Speed is also king. The big boppers are nice, but the speedsters are endearing because they're scrappy- never THE MAN or athletic specimens but contributors who fit in.

Despite not being the prize players groomed for future success, and despite being thrust into the thick of a summer divisional race, these players respond, "Screw you, watch me succeed."

Few things scream New York and Boston more.

  • Speaking of speedy former call-ups, is Jacoby Ellsbury really all the Sox need to claim first in the division?
  • It's a slow trade market, but the Sox and Yanks are at it again over big names like...Scott Downs. Nevermind. (And should the Sox be sellers instead?)
  • Curt Schilling's bloody sock is now the center of a political campaign, as yet another New England politician angers Sox fans.
  • Dom Amore at the Hartford Courant wonders, Why is no one watching the Red Sox?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Yanks/Sox Rivalry Seventh Commandment

If, as the cliche runs, baseball is a business, then no one has managed their brand better than the Yankees and Red Sox. Globally, the interlocking NY and the red B represent one thing above all else: winning. The rest is all just a domino effect.

Winning leads to the fans, the money, the fame, the fashion appeal, and the favoritism that any team and most great players enjoy. It's not the market (ask the Clippers). It's not the stats (ask any of Derek Jeter's peers). It's not even exposure in Hollywood films (ask the Indians). It's winning (ask the Rays). It's winning that matters, and the pride that comes with it.

Just ask Billy Martin, who knows his way around victories with five titles as the Yanks skipper: "What I miss when I'm away is the pride in baseball. Especially the pride of being on a team that wins."

According to, the teams with the best franchise winning percentages are the following:
1. New York Yankees (.568)
2. New York/San Francisco Giants (.538)
3. Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers (.525)
4. St. Louis Cardinals (.518)
5. Boston Red Sox (.517)

What this doesn't reveal is the idea of becoming a true Yankee, a true Red Sock, and inevitably becoming a true member of this great rivalry. Winning is essential in that too, but it can't quite be put to stats.

Look no further than A-Rod. Since he arrived in 2005, he's averaged a .299 BA, just under 40 HR, 119 RBI, and 20 SB per season. He appeared on five All Star teams while winning two MVPs and three Silver Sluggers - all while adjusting to a new position.


But none of that mattered.

He needed a postseason where he hit .365, slugged .808, homered six times, and delivered multiple clutch hits to cement himself as a true Yankee and a truly relevant member of the rivalry rather than a bone of contention and a footnote.

On the Boston side, let's compare the Red Sox career stats of two players, only one of which will be remembered in rivalry lore:

Player A: 151 G, .267 BA, 36 HR, 119 RBI, 13 SB .921 OPS, All Star selection, Silver Slugger, seventh in MVP voting.

Player B: 45 G, .256 BA, 2 HR, 14 RBI, 5 SB, .772 OPS.

Player A is Jason Bay. Player B is Dave Roberts.

Now, I'm no fool - I know that someone of Bay's caliber would be a revered Sox icon had he stayed and won multiple championships. But the fact is, he didn't, so he's expendable when we talk Sox-Yanks. Mo Vaughn was an all-time Sox great at first base, but Kevin Youkilis has been great and has won - so Vaughn is much more expendable while Youkilis will be on the fans' radar in every rivalry debate.

What this means for fans is the following: you honor great players who win, love role players who care, banish All Stars that fold in October, and above all else, you never, ever, under any circumstances, change your shirt or seat on the couch when your team is winning.

What else could explain 2004?

And now, to the rundown...

Yankees/Red Sox Rivalry Commandments

Monday, May 10, 2010

Buck & McCarver: Bird-Brained Announcing Yet Again

There's nothing worse than being forced to listen to announcers you can't stand, especially in a sport with as much time for banter as baseball. (After all, actively choosing to listen to broadcasters aside from your own team's violates the rivalry's Third Commandment.)

When I decided to spend the weekend at home in Connecticut, I'd say 50% of the draw was hearing the YES Network announcers broadcast the Yanks/Sox game on Saturday. (The other 50%? Mother's Day. Does that make me a bad son? She's a Yanks fan too...she'd understand...)

So half of me completely panicked when I learned that FOX was carrying the game. The other half knew the team of Joe Buck, Tim McCarver and sideline reporter Ken Rosenthal provides at least 20 minutes of pure, unadulterated, miraculous (unintentional) announcing comedy.

I was not disappointed. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the FOX Saturday Baseball announcers:

SCENE: Midway through an inning, the FOX cameras focus on a group of pigeons pecking the dirt of the left field warning track.

Joe Buck: And a group of pigeons decide to land on the field.

Tim McCarver: One thing that reminds me of (pause), speaking of birds (a greater segue was never uttered), is how Yanks pitching coach Kevin Long has worked with [Yanks right fielder Nick] Swisher to keep his head still [while batting].

(Come again, Timmy? A little more context, perhaps?)

JB: I said "pigeons". I'm told they're actually doves.

TM: Well, Kevin Long needs to work with those doves to keep their heads still.

(Still waiting on that explanation, Tim!)

JB: We'll need to check for the plural of "dove."

TM: I think "dove" is the plural of "dove."

(FOX continues to rotate camera shots between the game and the pigeon-doves. I hate when baseball gets in the way of a good bird conversation, especially at a baseball stadium.)

(Joe Buck asks for sideline reporter Ken Rosenthal's input. Good idea, Joe - he's closer to the field.)

KR: Guys, I'm going by the Prince song, "When Doves Cry."

TM, as if this is the most ridiculous thing he's ever heard: C'mon!

KR: Well, it's in the song title - doves, plural.

(I'm on the edge of my seat.)

JB: Did Ken Rosenthal, he of the (pause) print (pause) media, just refer to a Prince song to verify the answer for the plural of the word Dove? (pause) He's right. Prince was right. When in doubt, refer to Prince.

(Author: Rams seat through TV.)

  •  Is Big Papi about to get back on track? Or will he be dropped by June, as Buster Olney believes in his ESPN blog today.
  • A.J. Burnett's start last night aside, the Yanks starters have been dominant this year -- with one notable exception. And Javy Vazquez's time is now.
  • Despite his harsh words to A-Rod earlier this year, A's pitcher Dallas Braden made some temporary fans in the Yanks clubhouse with his perfect game.
  • Sox CF Mike Cameron heads to his rehab assignment.
  • A Detroit blogger muses, Should the Tigers play the Sox and Yanks more? He'll take a pass on those titans, he says.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Tales from Abroad: Yanks & Sox Still Unequal

Across the US, the Yankees and the Red Sox are both synonymous with winning. (The two teams have combined to win four of the last nine titles, to say nothing of their division and league success.)

They're also synonymous with baseball - all the history, all the current financial balance questions, and all the "cool" of donning those logos. You can't speak of sports or Major League Baseball in this country without bringing these two franchises into the conversation.

Yet abroad, the story is much different. Though the number of Sox fans has been growing by leaps and bounds since '04, the Yankees remain much more visible -- partly due to their baseball team and partly due to the popularity of that interlocking N-Y. Through international stars on and off the field (Jay-Z, Hideki Matsui, Mariano Rivera, etc.), international endorsements of all kinds (Derek Jeter and Gatorade or Nike's Jumpman apparel, to name two), and unbelievable feats on the field, the Yankees have reached international shores in every conceivable way.

While I was in Rome, I walked down Via del Corso, a packed street in the heart of the city renowned for its shopping and style. Consider it the Fifth Avenue of Rome. I was struck by how many Yanks hats walked past me -- many, it seemed, worn by locals.

In two weeks in Italy in Rome, Florence, Amalfi and Capri, I failed to see a single Sox hat. Coincidence? I'm sure it was. But the key point here is that I saw more Yanks hats 4,000 miles from New York than I do 300 miles away in Boston.

Take a look at this Google tool, called Insights for Search, which reveals the search volume on Google for various terms. In this case, when neither the Sox or Yanks win a title ('05, '06, and '08) the Yanks double the search volume of the Sox. Even in championship years for Boston, they only manage to surpass New York in the month of or following their victory.

An even closer look below the graph reveals that the Yanks far surpass the Sox in Google searches out of Rome and Milan, two of Italy's most developed and international cities.

But there's more. Take a look at the following countries too-

Finally, take a look at the most popular MLB teams on Facebook and Twitter (both international sites launched in the US), and the numbers are quite staggering.

It's good being home in Boston, but in an altogether too strange way, I was even more at home in Rome.