Like in Emotions: The Hidden Diversity of Sports Part 1, part two is going to continue on how emotions play a bigger role in sports than most might believe. Much like the rivalry between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals, there has been a lot of animosity between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. However, the hatred between the two teams comes from a different emotion. Pride.
Everyone has felt a sense of pride at one point in their lives are another. Someone might have said something demeaning or hurtful, and the need to protect oneself comes into play.
The Rivalry Begins
According to a blog that is focused around the rivalry between these two teams, known as soxandpinstripes.com, it all started when the Red Sox sold George “Babe” Ruth to the Yankees for $125,000 in 1919. The move caused the Red Sox to have an 84 year World Series drought that was coined as the “Bambino Curse.” One might be able to say that their pride was hurt for several years.
The Yankees went the opposite direction from the Red Sox. According to the blog, the Yankees won 26 World Series Championships between the acquisition of Babe Ruth and the year 2000. The article also covers a couple of legends who played for the Yankees, Joe Dimaggio and Mickey Mantle.
The article continues by pointing out that the two teams are in the same division, which means that they play each other multiple times during the regular season. When two teams with history play each other consistently, it can cause a rift between people, which is also pointed out in the article.
“The teams divided neighbors, colleagues, and families. Red Sox fans blamed the Yankees for all of their problems, and Yankees fans gloated in return.”
The Red Sox fans held tight to their team despite the long rough patch, but were too proud to admit that their team was just bad for a while. Instead, they blamed the Yankees for their woes. Yankee fans just made fun of the Red Sox fans and shoved the fact that they had the better team in their faces. Pride got involved, and the rivalry went outside of the baseball diamond, and into houses around the country.
Things Get More Heated
Like any rivalry, there are moments when things take a turn for the worst. That was the case during the early 2000’s. According to an article written by Chris Smith, who works with nymag.com, the atmosphere within the Yankees dugout took a turn for the worst. The article continues by saying that Joe Torre, the manager for the Yankees at that time, maintained a level headed team from most of his tenure. However, that changed when the Yankees picked up a couple hot-headed, and overly proud players. They were Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, and Kenny Lofton.
Smith then went into why these players were bad news. He pointed out that Sheffield was irritating to the other clubs that he played with before the Yankees, and his presence in the Yankees’ dugout creates the same irritating atmosphere due to some anger issues. Smith continued by saying that Sheffield managed to channel his anger into the batter’s box rather than at other players, but his personality was a nuisance for his teammates.
Lofton was unable to say the same as Sheffield when it came to his anger. Smith pointed out that Lofton would start fights with reporters and players on the opposing team. Lofton went as far as elbowing the Red Sox first basemen, Doug Mientkiewicz, in the back after grounding out.
Later in his article, Smith talked about the famous incident between Alex Rodriguez and Jason Varitek. It started with Rodriguez being hit in the arm by a pitch, and losing his cool. Smith described the incident as such.
“On July 24, he snapped. When a pitch from Sox hurler Bronson Arroyo hit him in the left arm, Rodriguez overreacted, screaming and stalking toward the mound. Catcher Jason Varitek cursed back, then whacked the third baseman in his pretty face, inciting a mêlée.”
Rodriguez was having trouble with the pressure that comes with being a Yankee in his first year and allowed the frustration, along with his sense of pride, to get to him. It caused a brawl between two of the biggest rivals in baseball. That brawl sparked what some, like Mike Lupica of MLB.com, would describe as the most heated moments in the rivalries history.
The Rivalry Today
Lupica talks about the state of the rivalry as of the beginning of the 2018 season. With both the Red Sox and Yankees losing to the Houston Astros in the playoffs of the 2017 season, both organizations made significant changes. They both hired a new manager who has never managed in Major League Baseball before, and picked up players who were beneficial to the club during the 2018 season. The Yankees chose Aaron Boone, who is a former Yankee, as their new manager and signed Giancarlo Stanton, who was the MVP during the 2017 season with the Miami Marlins. The Red Sox picked Alex Cora to be their manager, and signed J.D. Martinez, who was beaten out of the Triple Crown award by his own teammate at the end of the 2018 season. For those that don’t watch baseball, the Triple Crown is when a player leads the league in batting average, homeruns and runs batted in (RBI).
The two teams are looking to keep the success that they have had intact. The Yankees have a long history of winning while the Red Sox have been on a tear since they broke the “Bambino Curse” in 2004, winning 4 championships in a 14 year span. They have a reputation to uphold, and the players are proud of their respective reputations.
During the 2018 season, pride resurfaced during an interaction with Joe Kelly and Tyler Austin. Kelly is a relief pitcher for the Red Sox, and Austin was the second basemen for the Yankees at the time before being traded to the Minnesota Twins. After a questionable slide by Austin into the second base bag, he was hit by a pitch from Kelly the next time he came to bat. Austin charged the mound, and the benches cleared. The result was a brawl that the rivalry hasn’t seen for some time.
Pride has its place, but sometimes it gets in the way of how the game should be played. Pride is big in baseball due to a rich history dating back to the beginning of the 20th century, and it will continue to have a large presence throughout the game.
Serena Williams and the emotions she felt while calling out an umpire for sexism will be covered in Emotions: The Hidden Diversity in Sports Part 3 – Serena Williams.