Chris Sale wrote the latest chapter of the Boston-Baltimore conflict last night after throwing behind Manny Machado. This confrontation is the latest in a string of incidents between the two teams that began last month. The rivalry started in Baltimore on April 21st when Machado slid into second and spiked Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedrioa. While it didn’t look intentional, it touched off a series of confrontations that have included beanings, throws to the head, and as of Monday, racist epithets, along with peanuts, thrown at Orioles centerfielder Adam Jones.
This Isn’t Your Old Fashioned Rivalry
The Red Sox are no strangers to rivalries. The Red Sox and Yankees have been at war with each other since 1912 when the Sox beat the Yankees, then the Highlanders, 7-6 in the first game at Fenway Park. Since then, the two teams have often battled for a playoff spot. Individual rivalries between catchers Carlton Fisk and Thurmond Munson kept the rivalry interesting. It’s since died down after the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series in 2004. But this newfound rivalry with the Orioles is rooted in misunderstanding and unfounded anger. What started as an intentional spiking unfolded into a national scene of unwanted and distracting attention. It’s not baseball at its best. It’s baseball at its worst.
The Boston-Baltimore Conflict Isn’t An Honest One
The Red Sox v. Yankees rivalry is an honest one because they often involved pitching duels, dramatic home runs, and tough base running altercations. With the exception of the 2004 game, the Red Sox and Yankees duke it out with pitching and hitting. This new rivalry with the Orioles is stupid because it’s based on machoism instead of honest baseball. Players on both sides don’t want to look weak or back down, so they take to beaning and throwing at each other to look tough. That’s not what baseball is all about.
Tuesday’s Game Exemplified What A Good Rivalry Should Look Like
Tuesday’s game was an exceptional one. Sale struck out eleven. Hanley Ramirez hit two home runs, one of which hasn’t landed yet. And in a most bizarre of plays, the Orioles competed their first triple play since 2000. While Sale sent a message to Machaco by throwing behind him, Machado returned the favor by blasting a home run off of him in the seventh. That’s what baseball is all about. With the exception of Sale’s immature throw behind Machado, fans on both sides saw old fashioned baseball. The game even finished under three hours, which is rare nowadays. The highlight of the game, however, is what should turn the Boston-Baltimore conflict towards a respectable one.
Adam Jones, subjected to horrible racist taunts the night before, came to the plate in the first. Fans in Fenway Park gave Jones a standing ovation as their way of showing support. It was also an effort from Red Sox Nation to show the rest of baseball that they’re better than what Jones endured the night before. While some dimwitted fans think that Jones exaggerated, the overwhelming ovation signified a strong show of respect. More importantly, it’s this writer’s hope that it’ll end the immature antics both teams are exhibiting and the rivalry will turn into a more honest form of baseball. Instead of throwing at each other, maybe the Red Sox and Orioles will start fighting each other with home runs and strikeouts.
The Red Sox and Orioles need to stop the macho crap and need to start focusing on real baseball. It’s not about beaning or “sending a message.” It’s about seeing who’s the better team.