We all have that team we hate.
There is the division rival that we play against about a billion times every year. The team that has kept us from from going to the playoffs. The team who’s fans are so self righteous and obnoxious, they make you just want to go outside and punch a squirrel.
For me and every other living, breathing, All-American, Yankees fan we have “them bums from Beantown,” the Boston Red Sox. We hate them first, and everyone else (especially the Mets) second.
But with all the negativity floating around the MLBlogiverse, we must ask ourselves — “is there a silver lining on those teams we hate?”
I recently replied in a comment to GirlyBaseballChick‘s recent blog entry “Hate is Not a Strong Word” about the five players we hate most. It wasn’t too difficult to find 5 players who make me angry. I am an easily angered fellah’.
Anyone who reads this column regularly (and hopefully there are some first time visitors here today) can probably deduce most of my list. For those who are unaware, I’ll give you a quick look at my Stink-O List. (For reasons why, go visit her page after leaving me a comment here!)
Another MLBlogger (well, frequent commenter), levelboss, pointed out to me the obvious bias of my list. I cannot disagree with him. It is pretty heavily weighted against those obnoxious New Englanders (I hate their football team too. Yup, I said it.).
It made me wonder, is there anything — anyone — actually redeeming about my heated rivals?
I mean, there are players I can tolerate. Even team manager Terry Francona has my respect. I can tolerate him. I don’t mind JD Drew or Mike Lowell. I was glad to see Varitek resign with those bums. He belongs there.
I don’t even have a beef with Dice-K — not yet at least.
I’m pretty impartial against newcoming fogies John Smoltz or the oft injured Brad Penny. The Braves never really had my support, but when it comes to Smoltz and Glavine and that terrific pitching staff they had during their dominant mid-nineties, I can give them their due respect.
(Except John Rocker. No offense, but the guy is a moron.)
But are there any players on Boston that I can possibly say that I, *GULP*, LIKE?
I’ll give you THREE Boston Players I not only respect, but actually LIKE.
(Take a second and regain your composure Julia. I’m writing a blog about your Sox, and I’m being NICE!)
Without further adieu, in no particular order, the three members of the Boston Red Sox that I will stand and applaud for.
In a sport that has overcome the diversity barriers of many races, and is dominated by good baseball players of various skin tones, dialects, and countries of origin, there is one group still a minority. It is not because of that, that I will cheer for JACOBY ELLSBURY, but because he does not exploit his heritage to draw extra attention upon himself.
He IS a little thief, though. He steals bases as easily as John Rocker says something stupid. He is quick, hard working, and humble. So far.
Humility goes a long way with me.
Finally, he looks like as kid having fun playing baseball. How can you hate kids?
I spent a week last summer in the Dominican Republic. I wish I could tell you I was with some sort of social justice group, or a missionary team, but I was vacationing at a resort. I did spend a good deal of time outside of the walls of our protected little area, though.
The people of the DR LOVE their BIG PAPI. I can’t blame them. He seems like one heck of a guy. He doesn’t take himself too seriously. He has fun playing the game. He respects the game. He is extremely patriotic. He loves his people.
Looking at his early career, he should have never become the giant he is today. Injuries and inconsistencies held him down for years, but David Ortiz never let himself get down.
Papi was picked up by the Red Sox with a minor league deal in late 2002. The Twins shopped him around, but no one wanted him. If only the Yankees knew, the Giambi debacle could have been avoided. The Red Sox debacle could have been avoided. The curse would still live.
But no one is psychic.
It was luck that brought Papi to the 1B/DH role in Boston. It was luck that they brought him up when they did. He has become a leader and an icon in Boston. When he goes to the Hall of Fame, he will do so with a stupid B on his hat.
It wouldn’t happen any other way.
But there is one player I admire, respect, sometimes fear, and will cheer for every few days that I see his goofy face.
Since that strike in 1994, Tim Wakefield has been a member of the Boston Red Sox. He has seen everything through his weathered eyes. He has experienced the ups and downs of Beantown baseball. He has watched players come and go. I’m sure he was glad when battery mate Roger Clemens walked out of his life.
What I like most about the knucklehead is his contract situation. Wanna talk selfless?
On April 19, 2005
Wakefield agreed to a $4 million, one-year “rolling” contract extension
that gives the Red Sox the ability to keep their longest-tenured player
for the rest of his career. He has no negotiating to worry about. He has no “testing the free agent waters.” As long as he wants to play, and Boston wants him playing — he’s there.
He is also widely regarded as one of MLB’s most charitable players. He’s a simple man with a big heart and a scary freakin’ pitch.
If you can’t root for a guy like that, who CAN you root for?
If Wakefield ever decided to retire, I hope his last game he can play in camo. I think it would be fitting for the knuckleballer to go out like that.
But don’t be fooled. The bad in Beantown outweighs the good. I’m not getting soft. These guys are going down like … well, I’ll save you from that one. But they’re going to eat it this year.
The Bronx is Burning!