AN OPEN LETTER TO THE EAST COASTERS WHO THINK THEY’RE SO ‘WICKED-BITCHIN'” AND ALL. FROM A LEFT COASTER WHO IS NOT CURRENTLY SUFFERING FROM BRAIN FROSTBITE (HE MAY HAVE OTHER ISSUES, BUT THAT’S FOR ANOTHER TIME).
If you were from a foreign shore and landed somewhere in front of a 60″ 4K television screen and spent any time at all watching ESPN’s Baseball coverage you would probably think there were but two franchises worthy of discussion, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. You would be force-fed this delusion that the most heated and historically important rivalry in existence was between these two American League teams. You would be wrong. Of course, you would be wrong about a lot of things. Trust me, Colin Cowherd does not represent our nation’s intellectual elite, despite his clamoring to the contrary.
Let me slowly and methodically destroy this premise using actual facts (Republicans can avert your eyes) and personal observations. Let’s begin with the definition of a “rivalry.” Strictly speaking a “rivalry” exists between any two competitors. In that regard, yes, the Yanks and Sox are rivals, when they play each other. But according to the ultimate English language resource, dictionary.com, there is a secondary root meaning to the term that suggests the existence of an “equality” or “partnership” associated with being a “rival.” The ability to consistently thwart or provide a substantial obstacle to the achievement of a rival’s goals. As Dr. Sheldon Cooper likes to say, “Let’s do the math, shall we?”
The New York Yankees have 27 World Series Championships. That’s right, 27. The Red Sox have, what? Eight? Most of those in the pre-Babe Ruth era. I wouldn’t say that 8 championships rivals 27, would you? Granted, nobody rivals the Yankees in this category. The team with the next highest total of World Series wins is the St. Louis Cardinals with 11. So, I’d say BoSox fans don’t have much of an argument as far as history and actual championships are concerned. Rivalry? Yeah, in Red Sox fan’s minds.
Let’s consider for a moment another, more ancient, rivalry over in the elder National League. Two teams that once shared a city (can’t get any better geographically) and have managed to bring that geographic element of a “rivalry” all the way to America’s West Coast and continue to pique each other’s ire to this day. The Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers vs. the New York/San Francisco Giants.
As for history … the Giants have amassed 8 World Series titles while the Dodgers have collected 6 over the course of roughly 139 seasons. I’d say that’s a pretty close total of titles (say that three times real fast). Especially since the Giants have collected three of theirs in the last five years. When it comes to National League pennants, the Giants have won 20 ( six in San Francisco) while the Dodgers have won 18 (half of them in L.A.). Again, I’d say that’s pretty close … a rivalry, for sure. Meanwhile, back East, the Yankees have 40 pennants. The Red Sox? Twelve. Not bad, but nowhere near forty!
Forget championships for a minute (as a Dodger fan, I’m trying to) and just consider the regular season. That’s the real blood and guts of a rivalry, right? Again, to the math!
Wins and losses since 1901:
YANKEES: 9,913 – 7,495 .529 RED SOX: 9,146 – 8,554 .517
Wins and losses since 1883:
GIANTS: 10,780 – 9,262 .538
Wins and losses since 1884:
DODGERS: 10,489 – 9,492 .525
OK, OK, in this case I have to admit that what we’re talking about are four of MLB’s most storied and successful franchises. Again, wins and losses are much CLOSER to comparable between the Dodgers and Giants (mostly due to disparity of games played). The Red Sox, having played the same number of seasons as their “rival” have lost 1,059 more games than the Bronx Bombers. The Dodgers, having played one fewer campaign than the Jints have still managed to lose 230 more games than they have. Look, the Dodgers were pretty damn good at losing in the 20s and 30s, hence the name, “Bums”. But you can obviously see the two NL clubs are statistically nearly identical when you factor in a history of 20,000 games played.
Baseball, more than any other sport, depends a great deal an its lore, its personalities and its historic moments and in this regard it is almost impossible to talk about MLB without the Dodger-Giant rivalry coming to the forefront. “The Shot Heard ‘Round The World” would mean little if it had happened between the Indians and Tigers, for example. The fact that the foes were the Dodgers and Giants made it larger than life.
On the field “The Rivalry” has emptied dugouts, none more famously than the Juan Marichal vs. Johnny Roseboro incident. In case you’ve forgotten, during a 1965 game between the Dodgers and Giants at Candlestick Park, Giants’ pitcher Juan Marichal, while in the batter’s box, took exception to Dodger catcher Johnny Roseboro’s return throw to the mound whizzing a tad too closely to Juan’s ear. Marichal’s response was to take a bat to Johnny’s head. Stitches were required and quite a melee ensued.
A comparable moment of “on-field violence” between the Yankees and Red Sox would be Pedro Martinez “shoving” Don Zimmer to the ground. Pedro was a strapping young buck while Zimmer was a rotund octogenarian. The Old Coach “charged” Martinez during a fracas and was summarily pushed to the ground. Unpleasant to witness, but hardly a fight. Pedro seemed more interested in stepping aside and was a bit confounded that his “push” led to Zimmer landing on his butt. Instead of stitches, there were grass stains to deal with. Again, edge to Dodgers/Giants.
I could go on and on, but frankly, I’m tired now and want to take a nap. So, I reserve the right to return later to add to this little diatribe. But for now, let’s just say … WEST COAST RULES! EAST COAST DROOLS!
There. I feel better.