The Yankees-Red Sox Rivalry Is Like Passing a Kidney Stone
Like many of you, I have grown weary of the Yankees-Red Sox super-rivalry that gets shoved down our throats every summer. For one thing, the ability both teams seem to have to buy their way out of trouble is unseemly; it just doesn’t feel right. For another, I will openly admit to being jealous of their success. Also, their loud, obnoxious fanbases, who feel perpetually disrespected and maligned, as though they themselves under contract, make me want to scream. And the idiotic, automatic focus on these two squads leaves other interesting clubs, like the Blue Jays and Rays fighting for scraps of attention from the national media.
But finally, and perhaps most importantly, their games are just no fun to slog through. Much like the kidney stone I passed last night.
What? Oh yeah, I passed a kidney stone last night. You shouldn’t be surprised. After all, look at the title. Hurt like you wouldn’t believe. One minute, The Boy was off at the baby-sitter’s house and I was enjoying quality time with The Uncommon Wife, and the next I was rolling on the floor in unbelievable pain. Just excruciating. And it lasted about three hours.
Which is to say, perhaps its actually slightly preferable to pass a kidney stone. Or at least MY kidney stone. Because the average Yankees/Red Sox game this year has lasted 3 hours and 22 minutes. They just take so many pitches, and their starters take so long in between those pitches. On the one hand, it’s understandable. When you’re staring down two stacked lineups, pitchers will naturally nibble a little more in the hopes of not giving up a big inning. And I wouldn’t actually begrudge a batter who doesn’t swing until he has a good pitch to hack at. So for the first few innings, like the first 20 minutes of my ordeal last night, there’s just a dull ache and a vague feeling that something is wrong. But the combination of nibbling pitchers and selective hitters, plus the extra long commercial breaks between innings, and all the pitching changes mean that, come 10:30 EST, you’re just pleading with them to end.
Also, keep in mind that baseball fans have to endure at least 19 of these games a year, most of which are on national TV somewhere. Thankfully (hopefully), kidney stone problems don’t recur at nearly that rate.
When the stone passed, I felt two things: incredible relief and exhaustion. The pain immediately subsided, but I just wanted to sleep forever. That’s exactly how I feel at the end of Boston-New York games. Mariano Rivera or Jonathan Papelbon closes is out and winners take the field to shake hands (which always feels kind of unnecessary and Little League-y to me, but whatever), and I finally get to turn off the TV. Finally, it’s done and I’m free. But at that point, I just can’t watch another game. As much as I’d like to switch over and hear Vin Scully, I need a respite, especially since I know I’ll probably have to watch another one the next day.
Finally, it’s worth pointing out that, while painful, my kidney stones and the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry are relatively inconsequential. Aside from the mental scarring, I will have no long term effects from my ordeal last night. Indeed, it may be beneficial, as I’m reminded of how much I really should start getting regular physicals in my (relatively) old age.
Similarly, each game between the Red Sox and Yankees (at least during the regular season) is no more valuable than any other. The winning team gets a W and the loser doesn’t. There is no “extra credit.” Even the players, in this day of free agency and player movement between teams, don’t really care. Johnny Damon went from the Sox to the Yankees and the world didn’t end. Derek Jeter and Dustin Pedroia can hang out on the field before a game, or get a beer afterward, and neither is going to get fined. Heck, David Ortiz can even walk around New York City successfully soliciting hugs. It’s a new era; rivalries are overrated and, ultimately, solely in the minds of the fans, the media, and the front offices.
That said, they both suck. Although all things considered, now that I know, I might pick the kidney stone next time.