Sunday, October 20, 2013

Why I Hate the Red Sox: 2013 World Series Preview

What an exciting baseball postseason! Pitcher's duels and plethora of 1-0 games, extra innings finishes, and a couple game-changing grand slams have made this an October to remember, and we should only hope that the Fall Classic is just as exciting (if not more!).

Before the postseason, I wrote that the St. Louis Cardinals looked like the best team, and they have shown nothing to indicate otherwise. But my favorite in the AL? Part due to the aforementioned slams the Detroit Tigers are sitting at home as the Boston Red Sox get ready to host the Series. I'll admit: apart from my picking the Tampa Bay Rays and Tigers in my playoff picking competition with my colleague BPix, I had other reasons to root against Boston. In case you didn't catch the snarky tone evident in my tweets (@xingtheli) during Red Sox games this postseason: I hate the Red Sox.

Now hate is a strong word. We as a society probably use it too often; it is a nice one-syllable word that conveys a very specific emotion, but most situations might call for more nuance. Common usage of the word includes references to people, even athletes, and I am guilty in this context. I hate Manu Ginobili, I hate Ben Roethlisberger, I hate Bernard Pollard, etc. Really, we shouldn't hate people - hate is a root of many of the world's problems, and the word should be used only in extreme situations. So let me be clear: I really do hate the Boston Red Sox. And these are the reasons why:


This is the first thing that turned me off. Over the years and especially since the Steinbrenner era, Boston fans have complained incessantly about how the New York Yankees are the evil empire, the Yankees buy players and championships, the Yankees are the embodiment of everything wrong with the no-salary-cap MLB. Reality check: these fans are just bitter about perennially being behind the more successful club in New York. Boston employs the exact same concepts that the Yankees have.

Examples abound: remember Alex Rodriguez, who has somehow become Enemy No. 1 in Boston for doping (more on this later)? Boston traded Manny Ramirez for A-Rod in 2003 before their salary shenanigans and overall cheapness (more on this later, too) led to the MBL Players' Association nixing the deal. The point is, the Red Sox have historically relied on big spending, signings, and trades to buy playoff appearances. Their 2013 opening-day payroll of $158 million was the 4th highest in baseball and outpaced their first round opponent, the Rays, by nearly 3x. And that doesn't take into consideration Jake Peavy's salary of $14.5 million.

Overall, since the John Henry era in 2002, the Sox have

  • Traded for Curt Schilling
  • Signed Edgar Renteria to a $40mm contract over 4 years
  • Traded for Josh Beckett
  • Traded for Coco Crisp
  • Signed Daisuke Matsuzaka for $52mm/6 years
  • Signed J.D. Drew for $70mm/5 years
  • Signed Julio Lugo for $36mm/4 years
  • Signed John Lackey for $83mm/5 years
  • Traded for Adrian Gonzalez and signed him for $154mm/7 years
  • Signed Carl Crawford for $142mm/7 years
  • Signed Shane Victorino for $39mm/3 years
Most of these trades were made taking advantage of lesser teams who did not have the financial wherewithal to sign their star players. This is the mark of a team that knows it can out-spend 90% of the league and does so to improve the roster. Of course, fans should hope the team would do so and there is nothing wrong with that strategy. And it sucks that they happen to play in the same division as the only other team that can consistently out-spend them. But enough with the "Yankees are evil/Red Sox are good" crap. - little market teams can say that but the Red Sox have no bearing.


This is post getting long so let me be brief: some fans, Bill Simmons in particular, have a disgusting sense of entitlement. Yeah, 2012 was rough. Tell that to the Padres, Astros, Mariners, Marlins, or 20 other teams that can't begin to sniff the postseason. I like Simmons in general, but insinuating that Red Sox fans shouldn't sing along with Billy Joel's "so good, so good," during the 7th inning stretch just because the team is struggling is revoltingly indignant. Red Sox fans are among the most privileged people in the world. Fans at Red Sox games can forget about life for a while (oh Billy Joel was the best, wasn't he?) when people in less fortunate circumstances can't forget about where their next meal will come from, or how they will stay warm at night. I'm guilty of complaining when my teams don't do well, and I'm not saying Red Sox fans should have lower expectations. But how you vocalize those views shows a bit of where your perspective is.


And it's not just those fans. Go anywhere in America and you will find Red Sox caps, jerseys, t-shirts, bumper stickers, and the like. Does America really have so many transplanted Bostonians? And more than that, it's okay to wear a Red Sox cap-but sport Yankees apparel, and you are instantly derided as a bandwagon fan. I don't have a particular love for the Yankees - I am interested in them because they are the most compelling team in baseball - but why deride them, and not Boston? Why do the Red Sox enjoy such universal support? I live in Salt Lake City and anecdotally there seem to be twice as many Red Sox fans as those from any other team. 


John Henry has pulled the wool over your eyes, Boston fans. He doesn't care about your team. He's trying to squeeze all the cash out of the organization, Fenway, NESN, and everything Red-Sox-related to fund his real love: Liverpool. He's trying to do the same thing that the Glazer's have done with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers/Manchester United. More on Red Sox owners with wandering eyes later.


I love Marco Scutaro but hated that he played for Boston. Guys like Pedroia, Ellsbury, and Victorino seem like gritty guys that I would love, if they played for my team (the SF baseball Giants). The fact that they have chosen to play for Boston irks me (I'm a little jealous). 


The heart of the Boston order is good. Really, really good. I hate going against that lineup. Even with all the power hitters the Yankees have had, the Red Sox have always evoked more fear - it seems that more than any other team, they can turn a game with one swing. Detroit's lineup comes close, but as bad as they are getting guys on and with Fielder's annual October disappearing act, it's not the same. Boston's leadoff guys always get on, and even when they don't, take a ton of pitches. And ever since Ortiz and Manny got there, it seems those leadoff men score with impunity. The heart of Boston's order has always been a most stressful half inning for someone rooting against them.


Fact: no athlete who has ever been caught doping is innocent. How many Lance Armstrongs, Marion Jones, and Ryan Brauns do we need? Every player accused of using steroids has been shamefully proven guilty, usually after immense collateral damage (has Braun apologized to the test collector he publicly smeared?). The real question isn't if these players are doping - it's how many have beaten the tests.

Fact: no athlete who has ever doped has stopped after being caught. Does the A-Rod/Biogenesis thing really surprise you? Imagine a hyper-competitive person who's unyielding desire to succeed is one of his most stridently admired qualities (e.g. Michael Jordan's killer instinct). Give that person an edge. Do you really believe after making millions of dollars, fans, and plays using that edge, the person would give it up? 

Fact: David Ortiz tested positive for steroids in 2003. Yeah, it was a "sealed" report, he claims innocence, yada yada yada. At least A-Rod faced some questions about it (that he has lied since is another story). Do you honestly believe Ortiz isn't still on something? Watch that ALCS Game 2 grand slam again. Do you really?

Speaking of the ALCS - I also think it's a disgrace that Johnny Peralta played for Detroit. They (and their bullpen) deserved the loss. Last year, the Giants left Melky Cabrera home and ran an incredible string of luck (including a comeback from down 3 games to 1 against St. Louis, a ball that hit a base, a ball that hit Hunter Pence's bat a million times, and Panda's three home runs, to say the least) to a World Series title. Think about that next time your team activates a confirmed roider.


Having said that - I'm sure everyone else juices, too. I really am scared/confused/agitated that someone I like could test positive. But Boston has been good at what they do. I wouldn't hate them if they were, say, the Blue Jays. But they're good. They're a bandwagon team.


Of course the Red Sox would buy the Boston Globe. What better way to drag guys through the dirt on the way out? The most recent examples is of course, Terry Francona (I guess Bobby Valentine is technically more recent, but still). Seriously, the gall that these guys had tear Francona down is unmatched even by the New York clubhouse/media. Tito had one bad year. One. A few breaks broke against him, a couple pitchers didn't pan. So what? The team is back, yes? What a joke that they would abandon a man so universally respected - that is, in the ex-Boston universe. Even Simmons, who's an admitted homer is cognizant of this underhanded, unprofessional tactic. Curt Schilling blasted them. It was no mistake, and Francona is right to hold a grudge.

And by no means was Francona the only guy they've blasted. A long, illustrious line of Red Sox have been smeared on their way out of town: this ESPN article has the sordid details.


For the uninitiated: it's easy for teams to "sell out" games. Some teams buy their own tickets and give them away. Some teams buy their own tickets and put tarps over the seats. Again, Simmons is not fooled. Teams go through various means to "sell" tickets, but often butts are not in the seats. A few more articles, here, here, and here.


Yeah, the Red Sox endured 86 years without a championship. Many fan-bases around the league would be thrilled to be as close as they got during those 8+ decades which featured 4 Series appearances in 10 playoff appearances. But all that aside: the Red Sox deserved those years! 

Compare them to the Cubs who haven't won a title in 105 years. The Chicago curse traces to a silly stadium disagreement regarding a billy goat. The origination of Red Sox curse was their cheapskate owner Harry Frazee. Frazee used the team to finance his other passion, Broadway plays (sound familiar?) and could not afford one Babe Ruth. He could have received players, including Shoeless Joe from the White Sox, but choose the Yankees all-cash offer. If this happened in 2013, it would be so cosmically deplored that the internet would break. Bill Buckner and his glove didn't cause the Sox to fail - it was their low-balling owner. 

To Red Sox fans that lament entire generations passing before a title: buck up. This is a professional sports team, not a college team that you are beholden to because of 4 years of study. You have a chance to switch allegiances, and for good reason, too (ask the Florida Marlins fans). People that stuck with them were vindicated in 2004, so no lamenting what could have been.


Over the preceding 1,200+ words I have laid out my case for hating the Boston Red Sox using numbers and myth. I would never presume to enforce my tastes upon you - but know that rooting for this team means cheering for sniveling ownership, associating with sanctimonious fans, urging players to use more steroids - basically everything in opposition to the American Way. And that's the final straw. Rooting for the Red Sox is Un-American. So my World Series pick for 2013? Go Cardinals.

You make the calls #YouMakeTheCalls 


  1. Love it! Every time I see the Red Sox I will think of this article.

  2. You spend the largest amount of space in this post on spending when your beloved Giants are only $19.55mm (less than one player) behind the Sox this season. Fans across the country complain about the Yankees spending. I've even heard Dodgers fans (#2 in spending) complain about the Yankees. Does this mean you harbor some "hatred" towards every team and fan base that complains about the Yankees spending? Not sure who that leaves for us to pull for...

    1. I agree it's unreasonable for Dodgers fans to complain about other teams' spending, or anything at all. They have been spoiled. And Boston fans should be proud of the money the team has spent. As a Giants fan, I cherish the memory of the 2 titles and don't care about who they had to buy for how much to get them (kind of like how Auburn football fans feel). My point was that there are fans that can sincerely complain about spending (including this year's Cardinals), and fans that shouldn't out of good taste. It's up to the particular fan to determine where the line is, though for me a pretty clear one is No. 7 LAA ($142mm) vs. No. 8 Texas ($128mm). If there are Giants fans who complain about the Yankees, then yeah, I think they're being disingenuous.