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 Baseball-Reference.com, 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...
- The Yanks and Sox know that if winning is the end-game and the panacea, they need great players. Check out the top-10 Sox-Yanks free agent bidding wars.
- Tony Massarotti urges us not to judge the Sox yet and breaks down Lester, Ellsbury's return and more.
- Rays fans are getting cocky, but is it too soon?
- Alfredo Aceves suffered a set-back, while the Sox activated Mike Cameron.
- And finally, as you likely heard, the Yanks have decided to ban iPads at Yankee Stadium, hoping that fans who enter the baseball stadium should, oh I dunno, watch baseball?
Yankees/Red Sox Rivalry Commandments