Will Rodriguez Retirement Dampen Rivalry?

Well, the day has finally come. Alex Rodriguez, who for years has been the bane of the Red Sox Nation’s existence, is retiring. An Alex Rodriguez retirement means that Red Sox fans will no longer have a primary Yankee player to focus their taunts at. As the last link to steroid use, A-Rod will no longer remind baseball fans of a dark time in our National Pastime’s history. However, it also means that the rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees won’t be as intense either.

Despite A-Rod’s flaws, its hard to deny his talent. Since his debut in 1994, Rodriguez has hit close to 700 homeRodriguez Retirement runs, is a member of the 3,000 hit club, and has collected over 2000 RBIs. Only a small handful of players have ever accumulated those numbers. In fact, if my research is accurate, Hank Aaron is the only other player that has stronger numbers. While Hank Aaron never used steroids, it’s hard to say that all of A-Rod’s success came from PEDs. After all, a batter still has to connect his bat to the ball in order hit a home run. Many fans don’t realize how difficult that is. Steroid use can’t give a player that edge.

So did Rodriguez use PEDs? There’s no doubt about it. But did he take his punishment and sit out the 2014 season? Yes, he did. While that might have satisfied Commissioner Bud Selig, it came nowhere close to satisfying the Red Sox Nation.

Any member of the Red Sox Nation will tell you that the most famous moment in A-Rod’s time at Fenway Park took place in 2004. Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek and Alex Rodriguez fought it out at home plate in the third inning of a July game that resulted in  one of the biggest bench-clearing brawls between the two teams since 1967. As a result, Rodriguez and Varitek received suspensions and large fines. It’s remembered as one of the more significant brawls at Fenway Park between the two teams. It’s also the brawl that made everyone in Red Sox Nation hate A-Rod. After this season,however, he’ll no longer be around for Sox fans to beat up on.

With a Rodriguez Retirement, Who Will Sox Fans Hate On Now?

This week’s series between the Red Sox and Yankees will be the last one that will include A-Rod. Never again will Red Sox Nation be able to chant, “A-Rod sucks!” Well maybe we will. After all, we love to chant “Free Tom Brady!” at most games and he’s not even a baseball player. With a Rodriguez retirement also comes the reality that the source of an intensified hatred towards the Yankees will no longer be taunted at Fenway Park. Does that mean the rivalry between the two teams will die down? Maybe a little. But it’s a 100 year old rivalry, so it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

Will the Red Sox Nation miss A-Rod? Yes, but not for positive sentimental reasons. We’ll always think poorly of the guy, but we’ll also miss having someone to kick around when the Yankees are in town.

David Ortiz Doubles Machine

Only three players in baseball history have amassed more than 600 doubles and 500 home runs. The first was Hank Aaron, baseball’s home run king from 1974-2007. The second was Barry Bonds—baseball’s home run king since then. They were recently joined by David Ortiz doubles machine. Ortiz finds himself in pretty good company, alongside two of the greatest hitters who ever lived. Now, please tell me why he’s not a Hall of Famer.

David Ortiz Doubles Machine

When David Ortiz joined the 500 home run clubs last year, few were aware that he was David Ortiz Doubles Machinealso on the verge of 600 doubles. If anything, people probably assumed Ortiz had fewer doubles than home runs, given that he’s never been particularly fast.

And yet, Ortiz was racking up doubles long before he learned to hit the long ball. When he joined Boston in 2003, he had twice as many career two-baggers (76) as four-baggers (38). Moving to Fenway—a doubles paradise—ensured Ortiz would continue piling up two-base hits as long as he wore a Red Sox uniform. Thankfully, Ortiz has only donned the blue and navy since 2003.

Still, 600 doubles is a lot. Ted Williams didn’t reach that benchmark, and neither did Willie Mays. It’s a milestone that longtime teammate Manny Ramirez fell short of, as did Wade Boggs—another doubles machine who spent a considerable portion of his career in Boston. To get there, one must average 30 doubles a year for 20 years. This is Ortiz’s 20th season, so I’ll let you do the math.

It may come as something of a surprise that as great as Ortiz has been at hitting home runs—his 513 rank 22nd all-time—he’s been even better at hitting doubles. He’s one of only 15 players to total 600 in his career and has the most of any active player. His next two-bagger will tie Bonds on the all-time list, and assuming he hits 25 more over the rest of the season (a reasonable assumption given that he hit 31 from this date forward last year), he’ll leapfrog Aaron into the top 10.

Unless he plays until he’s 50, Ortiz isn’t catching Bonds or Aaron on the home run list. But there’s a strong likelihood he winds up with more doubles than either of them, and that’s quite an accomplishment.

Red Sox Beat Braves in Latest Matchup

A lot of people don’t know this, but the exclamation “Red Sox Beat Braves!” is part of a long rivalry between the two teams, particularly for the Braves, who are now in Atlanta, but initially started in Boston. My friend Tori was in Atlanta on April 25th watching the Braves play the Red Sox, which ended in a 1-0 win for Boston when Jackie Bradley Jr. hit his first home run of the season. “Pretty much half the stadium consists of Red Sox fans hoping Red Sox Beat Bravesthey put in Big Papi before the game is over!” she texted me as she sat behind first base (It’s not uncommon for Red Sox fans to outnumber fans when they’re on the road. When I was in Baltimore during the Sox’s historic 2013 run, many fans referred to Camden Yards as Fenway South).

Less than a mile from Fenway Park on the campus on Boston University sits Nickerson Field, the original site of Braves Field, where the Boston Braves played from 1915, until they left for Milwaukee in 1952, before leaving once again for Atlanta in 1966. While the Braves captured only one World Series title during their time in Boston compared to the Red Sox five titles, part of that 1914 World Series was played in Fenway Park, which was only two years old at the time. The history between the Red Sox and Braves was pretty quiet for a number of years after that, until 1974, when Hank Aaron, who had just broken Babe Ruth’s home run record, almost went to the Boston Red Sox to become their designated hitter, but was traded by the Braves to the Milwaukee Brewers. It’s so interesting to me that Hank Aaron almost became a member of the 1975 World Series Red Sox team!

Before the late 1990s, the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves hadn’t met much at all unless you count spring training games. They’ve never met in a the World Series, and it wasn’t until 1997 when Interleague play was first introduced that they started playing one another during the season. Since then, the Boston Red Sox have beaten the Atlanta Braves 32-30 in 64 games. As the Red Sox and Atlanta Braves continue to slug it out in the last week of August; two games in Atlanta, and two games in Boston, let’s hope that the headline “Red Sox Beat Braves!” is truly repeated after each game.