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Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Sports: The Evil Empire(s) 

Sign #2341 that baseball is right around the corner: Yankees and Red Sox fans already sniping at each other (check the comments for more).

A year ago the Red Sox were the darlings of major league baseball (co-darlings with Those Bastards from Chi-town, for everyone outside of Houston or St. Louis), but forget all of that now. The curse has lifted, the drought has ended, and Beantown has become an Imperial Star Destroyer to George Steinbrenner's Death Star. In short, the Red Sox now represent the other Evil Empire in the baseball universe.

Since winning the World Series the Sawx plucked Edgar Renteria away from St. Louis (adding insult to injury for all of those Redbird fans) and re-signed sparkplug fan favorite Jason Varitek, on top of overhauling the rotation by signing San Diego's David Wells, Houston's Wade Miller, and the Cubs' Matt Clement. The moves might not compare to King George's trade for Randy Johnson, but in a relatively weak free agent market, Boston's boy genius G.M. Theo Epstein did the best he could to keep up.

It's not just the payroll, though, that has started Boston's ascension toward the ranks of baseball's most hated. Now they wear the target that only comes with a championship. Before they were the AL's loveable losers; now they're Public Enemy No. 2 (I won't hyperbolically suggest that one ring catches them up with the Yankees). And it's not just the title. Rather, it's the same inferiority complex as before, which because of the title, now gets magnified.

Red Sox fans have a memory that fans in Houston and Chicago and Cleveland and a dozen other cities still only dream of having. Yet they continue to blather on with their "Evil Empire" shtick, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they play the same game as New York, even if on a marginally smaller scale. It's a slap in the face to the fans of true mid-market franchises.

Plus, starting in just a few weeks, baseball fans from all walks of American life will have another year of Red Sox-Yankees feuding stuffed down their collective throats, as if it's the only game that matters. We all get to suffer from this regional rivalry's overexposure, while Boston continues their underdog charade.

We get it, Sox fans. You hate the Yankees. Now move on, because it's tired and the rest of us don't want to hear about it anymore. You're the Yankees Lite -- deal with it.


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