Joe Lavin

May 2006

From Boston Sports Review

Hate Fatigue

Brace yourself. As May begins, we are about to renew the fiercest rivalry in all of sports, that mythic battle between Athens and Sparta, the powers of good versus the empire of the dark side, the scrappy underdogs versus the haughty millionaires. It's a series whose pure competitive zeal will transcend the very essence of --

Oh, sorry, I think I've been watching a few too many Fox baseball promos. You'll have to forgive me. I am writing, of course, about the Red Sox and Yankees who will meet eight times this month. These are the first of 19 games this season, which, if you ask me, are way too many epic battles for one season. After the last three years, I don't know if can handle another nineteen games of hate and hyperbole this year.

I'm sorry, but I can only hate so much. For eight or nine games a year, I can definitely hate the Yankees. I can probably even dislike them for the full nineteen, but pure hatred? That's tough to pull off for so many games. Baseball is all about a steady ebb and flow. You have to pace yourself, so that you'll have enough energy for the long haul, but after a Yankee series, most of us are just exhausted. Frankly, after a few of these games, I'm longing for some mundane matchup with the Tigers or the Royals.

Sure, I can still hate the likes of Sheffield, Jeter, and Posada for all nineteen. That's easy. I'm no amateur here. I think I can probably hate Alex Rodriguez for all 162. But often, during those nineteen games, it's tough to work up enough energy for the likes of Hideki Matsui, Mike Mussina, or Bernie Williams. Don't get me wrong. I want to give them the hate they deserve. I really do, but I also want to leave a little vitriol in the tank so that I'll have some left for September. And, God forbid, what'll happen if for some reason during the season I need to hate the Indians or the Blue Jays? Will I have enough hate left, or will I have used it all up in May?

Finally, what about Johnny Damon? With that many games, will some fond memory catch me off guard and make me appreciate him again for just a moment? I sure hope not, but with nineteen games you can never be sure.

At least, it's not as bad as last year, when the Sox and Yankees had already played each other six times before April 15th. Luckily, there was the happy coincidence of the Yankees being present for the World Series Ring Ceremony, but couldn't they have just shipped the Yankees up here for the day? I like to ease my way into a baseball season. Instead, the two teams had played one third of their games by mid-April.

This is all because of Bud Selig's unbalanced schedule, which is not to be confused with unbalanced sluggers. Because of the unbalanced schedule, the Red Sox now play each member of the American League East at least 18 times. This sounds great in principle until you realize that it means 19 games against Tampa Bay as well as New York. Do all those Yankee games really make up for 10 games at cavernous Tropicana Field?

Some would argue that having these extra games gives us all a better chance of going to a Yankee game at Fenway, but were you able to get Yankee tickets? I didn't think so. Why not just bring back the old schedule, with its reasonable slate of twelve or thirteen Yankee games? Sure, we can yell "Yankees suck" for all nineteen games, but let's be honest. Sometimes aren't we just going through the motions? Perhaps a little time apart will make our hatred for the Yankees even stronger. Don't worry. Absence may make the heart grow fonder, but we're talking about the New York Yankees here.

©2006 Joe Lavin

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