Keep Yawkey Way So We Don’t Forget His Mistakes

Calls to tear down Confederate monuments are making headlines throughout the United States. Violence in Charlottesville has brought attention to our nation’s history that leave many divided. Personally, I think most of them should come down and be placed in museums. Racists erected them to intimidate African Americans, and they represent nothing but treason and oppression. Calls to rename other parks and streets that bare the names of ambiguous persons of history echo those same demands. One of those demands includes renaming Yawkey Way. While I think Confederate monuments should come down, I think they should keep Yawkey Way the way it is.

Yawkey Way was named after Tom Yawkey, the owner of the Boston Red Sox from 1933keep yawkey way to 1976. Many remember Yawkey as a racist. During his reign, the Boston Red Sox were the last team to integrate when Pumpsie Green took the field in 1959. Before then, the Red Sox had chances to sign players like Jackie Robinson, Willie Mays, and Sam Jethroe, all Rookies of the Year. Additionally, he employed Mike “Pinky” Higgins, a manager who made no effort to keep his distain for African Americans a secret. Higgins is the primary reason why the Red Sox didn’t integrate for years. Yawkey not only kept Higgins around, but he even promoted him through the years. Unlike owners like Branch Rickey and Bill Veeck, Yawkey chose to play along with the rest of the owners in baseball and drag their feet before integrating their teams. That will always be a part of his reputation and deservedly so.

Keep Yawkey Way So We Don’t Forget, and Repeat, The Past

Going back to my introduction, Confederate monuments need to come down because they represent a time in our nation’s history when traitors tried to tear this country apart. For many years after the war ended, its sympathizers tried to retain the honor of the south by erecting monuments, partly so they could continue terrorizing and intimidating African Americans who they’d oppressed for years. Many of these Confederate monuments were built specifically and deliberately to push back against integration and Civil Rights. That’s why they now need to come down. In fact, Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate forces, discouraged monuments. He thought they “keep open the sores of war” (Boy was he right).

Was Yawkey Way given its name for the same reasons? Of course not. Yawkey Way was named to honor Tom Yawkey, not to intimidate African Americans from coming to Fenway Park.

Keep Yawkey Way To Hold Yawkey’s Legacy Responsible

Yawkey Way bares the name of an owner responsible for modernizing Fenway Park. He played an important role in the history of the Red Sox and in baseball. Many ballplayers, black and white, remember him as being a very generous and approachable man. Deep down, he probably didn’t harbor racist sentiments as intense as Higgins’. However, he’s still responsible for that racist legacy. He could have done what Rickey and Veeck did and integrate the Red Sox before any other team. But he didn’t.

So instead of letting Yawkey and the Red Sox off the hook, the team needs to keep Yawkey Way. Of course, the current ownership doesn’t hold the same views Yawkey did, but they chose to buy the team and its dark legacy comes with that. They don’t get to “erase” that. It would also enable people to forget about the terrible mistakes Tom Yawkey made. Instead of erasing that history, the Red Sox should use this opportunity not only to remember a dark past, but take efforts to ensure they don’t go down similar paths.

Keep Yawkey Way To Ensure We Don’t Forget

There is no easy solution here. People will remain angry no matter what’s done. But let’s keep things in perspective here. This publication, which also bears the Yawkey name, looks to a future that includes equality and opportunity for everyone. To rename the street would jeopardize those efforts to craft a better future. Personally, I write for Yawkey Way Report because I want to help create a future with more equal opportunities so that everyone, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc. have a chance to thrive, whether it’s in baseball or in other aspects of life. Renaming Yawkey Way would indirectly disrupt those efforts because those involved would have to start from scratch to associate itself with a new title. That takes time, and frankly, I don’t see how that’s a better approach. That’s like tearing down an entire house just because the kitchen is unstable.

So instead of looking at Yawkey Way as a symbol of racism, look to it as a symbol of change. Tom Yawkey, while he could have done much more, tried to change his views for the better. Does that excuse his behavior? No. But renaming a street isn’t a zero sum solution and it never will be. We need to take the good with the bad. We can remember Tom Yawkey as an innovative owner while also holding his legacy responsible for its reprehensible actions. To change the name of Yawkey Way would be to erase and rewrite a history that, despite its darkness, is important to remember so we do not repeat it.

Christian Vazquez: Red Sox Secret Weapon

Christian Vazquez never got much attention before this season. His dismal batting average kept him in Pawtucket for much of 2016. His .227 with only eleven extra base hits wasn’t exactly impressive. What did impress everyone though was his fielding percentage. He currently has a .990 fielding percentage as of August 2nd. Fortunately for Vazquez, his bat finally caught fire this season. Vazquez was outed as the Red Sox secret weapon Tuesday night after hitting a walk-off home run defeating the Cleveland Indians 12-10.

Vazquez’s home run came at a critical time for the Red Sox. After a rough post All-Star losingred sox secret stretch, the Red Sox relinquished first place to the Yankees. The ongoing feud between David Price and Dennis Eckersley didn’t help their performance either. The game itself didn’t seem like a sure victory at all at first. Chris Sale surrendered eight hits and seven runs in five innings in a rare poor performance on the mound. The Indians’ Austin Jackson robbed Hanley Ramirez of a home run that just might go down as one of the greatest catches in the history of baseball. So for a while, it looked like the Red Sox weren’t going to win.

Then Christian Vazquez stepped to the plate. Little did anyone know, but the Red Sox secret weapon was about to push back at the Indians.

The Red Sox Secret Weapon Came At a Critical Time

As I stated before, the Red Sox really needed a victory here. Poor publicity, bad pitching, and lazy offense allowed the Yankees to snatch first place away. But in a game that had everything from drama, to suspense, to the perfect climax, you can’t say the Red Sox didn’t snatch back first place in style. More importantly, after years of writing him off as a sure out, opposing teams now have to take Vazquez much more seriously as a hitter. It’s bad enough for them that he has a high caught stealing percentage, making opposing runners think twice about stealing.

No one, not even those in Red Sox Nation, thought Vazquez could come through in the clutch like he did last night. But there’s only one thing that makes me angry about the whole thing.

I wasn’t in the mood to go to the ballgame and I gave my tickets away, so I wasn’t there to watch it live.

Yankee Fan Reacts To JBJ’s Catch With Bigotry

The Boston Red Sox played host to their arch-rival the New York Yankees this past weekend. The rivals split the four-game series 2-2 with the Red Sox still a few gamesYankee fan ahead of the Yankees. The series saw many highs and lows, including a blown save by Craig Kimbrel. The biggest highlight of the series though came during the fourth and final game Sunday night. In the top of the eighth, centerfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. robbed a home run from the Yankees’ Aaron Judge. While both Red Sox and Yankee fans behaved well in general during the series, one Yankee fan took to Instagram to voice his reaction to Bradley Jr.’s amazing catch. He wasn’t exactly subtle in his opinion about Bradley Jr., and it was caught by a Red Sox fan for all on Instagram to see.

Following the game, a Red Sox fan and Instagram user posted a snapshot to his storyline. The snapshot detailed a conversation between two Instagramers, one a Red Sox fan and another a Yankee fan. The Yankee-themed Instagram account has 12,000 followers while Red Sox-themed account has about 2300 followers. While the message in its entirety wasn’t available to read, the Red Sox fan mentioned how Jackie Bradley Jr. robbed Aaron Judge of a home run. In response, the Yankee fan wrote “Lucky catch from that n–ger coon.” The Red Sox fan screenshot the conversation with the tagline, “reeeeeal classy…trash Red Sox fans and then call JBJ that…” and posted it as an Instagram story. I reached out to both users for comment but neither responded. You can see the actual snapshot here.

Many of you who are reading this might wonder why I’m taking issue with this message. Some of you might shrug it off. Others might argue that it’s not worth talking about. Some might even say it’s stupid. But here’s why I think this is an important story to discuss.

Not Everyone Is Like This Yankee Fan, But They Exist Everywhere

Last April, the Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones found himself on the receiving end of racial taunts at Fenway Park. While most Red Sox fans reacted with anger and disgust, others carried on as if it was nothing. Some even said Jones needs to get over himself. But it’s that very attitude that enables this kind of behavior to begin with. People complain and say things like “I’m tired of everyone being so sensitive!” Others will say that they’re tired of these kinds of stories, racism will exist no matter what, free speech, etc. But here’s something people forget about. That’s a two way street.

Now, people are entitled to their beliefs, but keep in mind that others are entitled to respond. If someone isn’t ready to defend themselves without using racial slurs, then maybe he or she should just keep to themselves. More importantly, maybe they shouldn’t share their thoughts on social media.

Hey Yankee Fan, What You Post On Social Media Stays There Forever

It’s sad and pathetic that baseball has to suffer these fools who think it’s okay to bring their racist sentiments to the ballpark, or post them on social media. It’s as if they don’t notice the number 42 that hangs in every MLB ballpark. Jackie Robinson is the main reason why baseball could integrate in the first place. The amount of taunting he endured in his career led to his early death at 53. He sacrificed himself so others like him could play the great game. But here we are, seventy years later, and not only do we still have to listen to people throw the “n” word around, but even worse, we have to listen to them complain when someone calls them out on their bigotry. Again, two way street here.

Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Of course, not every Yankee fan shares these bigoted views. All of the Yankee fans I know don’t care what color skin someone is as long as they can play ball. But regardless of how you feel about this topic, I think we can all agree that it’s totally not okay to use racial slurs to describe someone like Jackie Bradley Jr.

This isn’t about being politically correct. This isn’t about being sensitive. And it’s not even about trying to pick a petty fight. It’s about calling fans out on their racism, whether it’s at the ballpark or on social media. Of course, there’s some issues that we can hotly debate all day long, like whether to play “God Bless America” at ballgames. Those are heathy debates where both sides can make valid points. But how do you defend someone who wrote those comments about Jackie Bradley Jr.? You can argue that Bradley Jr. isn’t deserving of a Gold Glove (although that’s hard to argue). You can argue that Bradley should spend more time on his hitting (true). But who in their right mind is going to argue that it’s okay for a Yankee fan to call him a “n–ger coon?” Yes, I could ignore it, but that’s hard to do when it’s posted to Instagram.

It’s About Defending One Of Our Own

I have no doubt that some of my readers are going to slam me for bringing this up. But before they do so, ask yourself a question. Am I angry about this blog post, or am I more angry about what some Yankee fan said about our centerfielder and how he said it? Who are you going to defend? A bigoted Yankee Fan? Or Jackie Bradley Jr.?

I leave you with a quote from a great Boston-themed movie The Boondock Saints, “Now, we must all fear evil men. But, there is another kind of evil which we must fear most … and that is the indifference of good men!”

Don’t be indifferent to this reality.

Ballparks Must Stop Playing “God Bless America”

There’s two songs that everyone expects to hear when they go to a ballgame. The first, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” sets the tone of the game. Then there’s “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” played during the seventh inning stretch. These two songs are staples of the great game of baseball. Ballparks must stop playing “God Bless America” during the seventh inning stretch. Its purpose went stagnant years ago.

There’s a few reasons why ballparks must stop playing “God Bless America” at ballgames.Ballparks Must Stop First, it’s too redundant. Now I love being an American. I’m thankful to God that I was born an American. But how many times do I have to stand up and pledge my allegiance? Whose approval do I need? And why of all places should it be at a ballpark? With politics dividing our nation in a way that hasn’t been seen since the Civil War, the last thing we need is a song that puts people on the spot if they don’t stand up and place their hands over their hearts in the seventh inning (I stopped doing it months ago). I’m not at a ballgame to prove that I love my country. In fact, I don’t have to prove anything to anyone. That’s what makes America great. We have the freedom to express ourselves anyway we see fit as long as we’re not infringing on the rights of others. You love “God Bless America”? Hey, great! It’s your right. But don’t tell me that I have to love it too.

The Man Who Wrote The Song Didn’t Even Like It

Irving Berlin wrote the song in 1918 and thought it too depressing, so he shoved it in a drawer for 20 years. He dusted it off when World War II broke out and the rest is history. To clarify, Berlin didn’t think the song sufficied so he put it away. Berlin released it only when a radio show host asked him for a song about America she could play on her show.

Sixty years later, baseball parks appropriately started playing “God Bless America” in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in 2001. It was a song many Americans sang in unity. It comforted Americans during a very dark time in our nation’s history. But now it’s a stagnant remnant and feels too much like an obnoxious “in your face” attempt to prove one’s patriotism. Gersh Huntsman of The New York Daily News stated, “The song still embodies great things about America, but also our worst things: self-righteousness, forced piety, earnest self-reverence, foam.”

I couldn’t agree more.

The song feels so much like a third wheel on a date. You don’t really want it there but you don’t want to be mean and ignore it. It doesn’t have to be there to begin with. And what you had to start was good enough. I’m talking about you and “The Star Spangled-Banner.” I feel proud to stand up and remove my hat for our National Anthem. I even get angry when I hear fans talking during the song at Fenway. “The Star-Spangled Banner” has a very significant meaning to Fenway Park. In fact, the tradition of playing the National Anthem started at Fenway Park. 

The Star-Spangled Banner Suffices

If you’re a Red Sox season ticket holder like me, then you’ve heard “The Star-Spangled Banner” hundreds of times. Not only does it mark the time when fans rise to show respect for the colors and appreciation for America, but it marks the beginning of the game! So why do we need “God Bless America”?

Let’s take a look at a few numbers while we contemplate the answer. Sheryl Kaskowitz’s 2013 book, God Bless America: The Surprising History of an Iconic Song, states that about 61% of baseball fans would like to see the song removed. Her research also found that 83.8% of “very liberal” people dislike the song, while 20.5% of “very conservative” people” have a problem with it. This statistics highlight the divide and potential for causing conflicts at ballgame.

Going back to my original point, many people see the song as a litmus test for one’s patriotism. Fans who see others not standing for the song in the seventh inning might feel obligated to jeer them. “Why don’t you stand for God Bless America, huh? What are you not American?” Again, no one needs to prove anything to anyone at a ballgame except for your love for the home team. People go to ballgames to get away from politics, religion, work, etc. The last thing anyone needs is a drunken fan looking for an excuse to fight. The Yankees are coming to town this week so we’ll have enough reasons to fight as it is. We don’t need any more reasons.

Ballparks Must Stop Playing “God Bless America”

Now, I’m not for removing any and all things that offend people. Lord knows I love eating hot dogs in front of the PETA protestors in Harvard Square. That’s not what I’m getting at though. Instead, what I’m trying to say is that not only does the song contribute to the divided of the nation because it obligates citizens to unnecessarily prove their patriotism, but it’s unnecessary to begin with. It’s a song that’s overstayed its welcome. Fenway Park plays the National Anthem, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” and “Sweet Caroline.” The first two songs are as American as apple pie. So ballparks must stop forcing “God Bless America” down baseball fans’ throats. The first two are more than perfect.

Ballparks must stop playing “God Bless America.” Baseball already has two songs soaked in tradition that people on both sides of the political divide love. So let’s remove that third wheel. Sit back, sing the National Anthem and “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” and enjoy the game.

Are the Red Sox Retiring Jersey Numbers Too Soon?

Red Sox Nation saw David Ortiz’s number 34 retired during a pre-game ceremony Friday night. His number retirement came eight months after his actual retirement. It also marked the third time the Red Sox retired a number in as many years. So are the Red Sox retiring jersey numbers too soon?

Three years ago I thought it was strange that the Red Sox hadn’t retired many numbersred sox retired with its long and rich history. In fact, they only started the practice in the early 1980s. Before 2015 the Red Sox had only seven retired numbers. Since 2015 they’ve retired three. In fact, the Red Sox broke their own jersey retirement rules to induct the last three. So what does this mean? Are they trying to play catch up, or are they trying to make up lost revenue?

Is Attendance A Factor In The Decision To Retire Numbers?

According to Baseball-reference.com, the Red Sox averaged 3,008,355 fans per season between 2007 and 2013. Between 2014 and 2016 the Red Sox averaged 2,930,739 fans each season. That’s a drop off of 77,616 over three years. According to an April 2016 article on Fortune.com titled “Here’s How Much a Baseball Game Will Cost You This Year,” it costs a fan about $78.50 to attend a game at Fenway Park in 2016. That includes tickets, food, beverages, and parking. So let’s say for argument’s sake that the 77,616 drop in attendance equates to a loss of $78.50 per fan. That comes to a loss of $6,092,856 over three years. Of course, it’s easy to manipulate those numbers, but no matter how you crunch them it’s bad for the Red Sox.

Seeing The Red Sox Retiring Boggs’ Number Was A Little Awkward

It made sense to retire Pedro Martinez’s number. He helped carry the Red Sox to their first World Series championship in 2004. But Wade Boggs? Yes, his time with the Red Sox made him a legend. But Boggs left Boston for New York where he won his only World Series Championship in 1998. In fact, he wore his Yankee World Series ring to his jersey retirement ceremony at Fenway Park much to the irk of many. While fans liked seeing the much-beloved Boggs’ number retired, it made other wonder why now? Why him? Was it an effort to bring older fans back to the ballgame so they could reignite their love for the game? Was it an effort to get its younger fanbase to tap into the rich history of the Red Sox? No matter how you dice it retiring Boggs’ number came off as awkward.

Are the Red Sox Retiring Numbers Too Soon?

So are the Red Sox retiring numbers too soon, or are they truly trying to honor their legends? Or are they trying to make up for lost revenue? The Red Sox have a staggering payroll and losing $6 million equates to about six or seven of their players making between $500-600,000 a year. No matter how you look at it, the frequency in retiring numbers does give true fans pause about how sincere the intentions are.

The Chris Sale Ticket is the Best Since Pedro

The overlying bright spot of the Red Sox season so far has been the utter electricity of Chris Sale. His pace, stuff and attitude make the Chris Sale ticket at Fenway the hottest since the Pedro Martinez days.

Part of Boston’s recent love affair with Sale has been the similarities between he and Pedro.Chris Sale ticket Both came with plenty of hype. Sale came in December as the established number one pitcher in the American League. Both have war-like intensity on and off the mound. Pedro threw down 72-year old Don Zimmer and Sale cut up the entire team’s throwback jerseys he didn’t want to wear. Both live on the inside corner like the second coming of Bob Gibson. And both are good. Like, really good.

Sale vs Pedro

In the first month of his Red Sox tenure, Chris Sale has been near unhittable. He has tied the record for most strikeouts through his fist six starts with a new team. He has 63, leading the major leagues. Whose record did he tie? Some guy named Randy Johnson; you may have heard of him. While the offense supporting him has sucked, he has been nothing short of remarkable. With only a 2-2 record, he has a 1.38 ERA and leads the league in innings pitched.

But it wasn’t just Pedro’s numbers that made his ticket so coveted—it was the perfect storm that came with all his starts. On days Pedro started, Fenway was the center of the baseball world. The stands were littered with Dominican flags, “K” signs covered the back rows of the bleachers, and every fan stood with feverish anticipation whenever a batter had two strikes on him. With the pink hats and corporate atmosphere of Fenway today, Chris Sale is as close as we are going to get to that.

Chris Sale Ticket Brings Eexcitement and the Unexpected

When Sale is pitching, you don’t really know what to expect. You know he’ll work quickly and strike out everyone in the lineup, which makes things exciting. You don’t know, however, what kind of history or animosity he’ll bring. Just Tuesday night, he lit the park up by throwing behind new public enemy number one: Manny Machado. Not only did Sale send a message, he proceeded to strike him out. In fact, he struck out the first five batters he faced and went into the sixth inning without allowing a hit. Right now, Sale is the most entertaining pitcher to watch in the sport. Not the AL, the sport.

For me and most Red Sox fans I know, the anticipation for Sale’s starts are unrivaled. People around me must be getting sick of seeing me in my Sale shirt every fifth day. I can’t help it, I haven’t seen a Red Sox starter as electrifying as him. We’ve seen some good ones since Pedro, but none that were ‘must-see TV’. Schilling, Lester, Beckett, and Porcello have had great runs, but nothing like Pedro. Watching Schilling, Lester or even Beckett in the post-season was enthralling, but nothing like it in the regular season. None of those guys could pull eyes away from a Celtics playoff game. Chris Sale has and will continue to do so.

Granted, it has only been a little over a month of Chris Sale in Boston. He has brought back the glory days of intense, bulldog starters for the Red Sox. If this continues, he is finally the next in line of the Roger Clemens/Pedro Martinez gamers in Red Sox uniforms. I don’t care what the Red Sox have to do, but please keep this guy here as long as possible. With him, I see rings, Cy’s and Cooperstown.

Long live Chris Sale! Thank you for bringing that excitement back.