However, other things that come with the territory of being a baseball fan in the AL East is a degree of hatred stemming from the rivalry with the Red Sox and Yankees.
For years, I’ve embraced it. There were players on both teams that were easy to target as the objects of my created hatred. When Alex Rodriguez acted like, well…himself, or when the Red Sox made winning look so damn easy while the Blue Jays appeared to pour every ounce into each win. I also developed a pure loathe for Derek Jeter (The Captain). This is hard for me to admit, but my Jeter-hate might have more to do with his label as The Captain of the Evil Empire and less to do with how he plays on the field.
That hatred though, was almost always the mask for large portions of envy…we all want to cheer for a team that wins like those teams do.
It’s easy to start paying attention to the teams that are doing things the “right way”. A label that’s attached to small market/low-payroll teams who scratch out victories over the powerful, high-payroll teams en route to the playoffs. Teams like the Minnesota Twins, Tampa Bay Rays and everyone’s favourite Moneyball team, the Oakland Athletics are fun to root for, and even more fun to jump on board with when they win.
But as a fan of the game, and someone who’s been watching his favourite team re-build/re-tool/build from the bottom up, etc. for the better part of the last decade, it’s hard to hate the Yankees and Red Sox anymore.
First let’s look at Boston. They have so many talented players that are “homegrown products”. Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury are all really fun to watch. Yes, Kevin Youkilis is possibly the “ugliest man alive” (credit: Mrs. Jay) but he’s still a fantastic baseball player. How could one not enjoy watching Jon Lester pick apart other teams? Then they supplement their team with guys that are REALLY fun to watch…Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and David Ortiz.
Then we have New York. While they still have the ever douche-tastic Alex Rodriguez they have their own draft class successes. Brett Gardner stands out as the most recent draft success (at least with Major League success) but Jorge Posada was also a product of the draft, as was Derek Jeter. The Yankees though have had great success in signing international free agents like Robinson Cano and Mariano Rivera. The Yankees also have some very high ceiling prospects that should make appearances this fall, and be part of the fabric of the team very soon. Then of course, supplementing their team through free agency/trades has given them Mark Teixiera, C.C. Sabathia, Curtis Granderson and the always entertaining Nick Swisher.
So a brief look makes it plainly obvious that as a Jays fan, my obligation to heckle, boo and yell obscenities at these teams when they’re in town is now hard, given that they’re both REALLY fun teams to watch.
I will always want the Jays to win. But should we find ourselves in another Red Sox blow-out series like there was on that fateful weekend in June, I encourage everyone to sit back and enjoy watching two of the best lineups in baseball do what they do best.