You will hear a lot of commentary this World Series, from broadcasters and coaches, players and fans, about why it’s so nice that the Tampa Bay Rays have made it into the Fall Classic. They will expound on the importance of small market teams such as the Rays and their opponents, the Philadelphia Phillies, saying that baseball cannot always be about teams from Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. Purists will laud Tampa Bay for cultivating its young, homegrown stars such as Evan Longoria and B.J. Upton and will tout the team as an example that solid defense, relief pitching and timely hitting are more than a match for clubs with monster payrolls.
Personally, I too am overjoyed by the fact that the Rays have made it this far. I do not claim to be a fan of the little guy and, though I have loved baseball for the vast majority of my life, I would not consider myself a purist. What I am is a Yankees fan. And that means I care about only one thing: that Tampa Bay beat the Boston Red Sox, and that the Sox will not be playing for their another Series title.
Now, I know that to the average baseball fan, my claim seems like an immensely nearsighted view. Many people ask me how I can possibly dislike a team so much that I will root for whoever they are playing. Usually, I cannot give a concrete answer; I am a Yankees fan, ergo I despise Boston. This time, however, I think I can rationalize my feelings a bit.
If the Red Sox made it to the World Series and won, they would become baseball’s latest dynasty. Three titles since 2004 would make them almost equivalent to the Yanks of the late nineties. I would not be able to deal with a world in which the Sox are considered the most successful team of any decade. They needed to lose to the Rays for the same reason that the Cubs needed to lose to the Dodgers: baseball needs its losers (OK, I know that the Sox are no longer losers, but two straight championships would make it borderline impossible to keep denying that fact).
From an actual baseball point of view, Boston getting another ring would would have also been a catastrophe for my Yanks. See, the only thing that the Steinbrenner clan and their cronies hate more than the Yankees losing is the Red Sox winning. And, as the team’s mantra for the past decade, if both happen, the obvious solution is to throw money at guys like Kevin Brown, Jason Giambi and Carl Pavano, to name a few. So, if Boston beat the Rays and then won the Series, it would take all of five minutes for Hank Steinbrenner to start bullying General Manager Brian Cashman into paying $80 million for an aging superstar with bad knees.
Besides, I did not want to see Dustin Pedroia on television any more this year. I can only hear the word “scrappy” so many times over a given autumn.