GET YOUR OWN RIVALRY
OCT. 7, 2004: I have a friend who also happens to be a Twins fan. Predictably, he hates the Yankees. It’s the sort of trait that usually makes bonding easy. But not at the moment.
When the Yankees dusted off a familiar script and stunned Minnesota with a classic comeback on Wednesday night, normality quickly returned to the baseball universe. Frankly, it was odd to see the Yankees at the brink of an 0-2 start in a five game series. The Yankees players looked like sure losers, and the network scrambled to fix the camera on the New York dugout, as if to say, “So much star power and wealth, but failures nonetheless.” It was odd to see the Yankees fans sitting there motionless and silent. It was as if the stadium was hosting a film screening, and the crowd was not finding the original ending palatable. Then, with a quick snip of the editing scissors, the “dark” ending fell to the floor it was quickly replaced with a feel-good conclusion.
My Twins-loving friend was understandably dismayed by the sudden twist in Game Two, but said all of the things that a fan is supposed to say: it’s not over yet; Santana will get another start; the Yankees got outplayed but were simply luckier. I should have been supportive. Instead, I was short. I told him the Twins were done, and that I was actually okay with that result. He gave me a look that begged for an explanation. After all, I am one of the biggest Yankees haters he knows.
“I don’t want you shearing my lamb, you know what I mean?”, I said. And I meant it. Nothing personal against the Twins or their fans, but it’s time for Minnesota to get out of the way. Ditto for Anaheim. Since the beginning of the season, it has been about two teams: the Red Sox and the Yankees. It won’t always be this way, as the ebb and flow of success and failure will test the continued strength of this rivalry over time. But this year, things are supposed to happen a certain way. If the Sox and Yanks don’t meet in this post-season, it will be the single biggest letdown in sports history.
Michael Kaye, the Yankees TV announcer and the star of the “Michael Kaye (radio) Show”, asked hometown listeners (e.g., Yankees fans)an interesting question during Wednesday’s broadcast: If you knew ahead of time that Boston would prevail in a Boston/New York playoff series, would you prefer that the Yanks were instead ousted by the Twins in the ALDS? Kaye’s answer was a resounding “yes.” He said that a Boston victory over New York would be too painful, and that it was something to avoid at all costs. The question for Boston fans would be a bit different: If you knew that Boston would defeat Anaheim in the ALDS, would you rather face New York or Minnesota? That’s an easy one, in my book. In a perfect world, the Red Sox win the World Series and they do it by going through New York. And then next year, it starts all over again.
Experiencing happiness in lock-step with Yankees fans is harder than finding heart in Oakland. In fact, it cannot be done. So, it’s not accurate to say that some Sox fans are rooting for the Yankees. It’s simply better to say that we’re anxious for the Yankees to throw themselves in the path of the Red Sox. From there–after all these fruitless years–we’re still willing to take our chances.