The Yankees and Red Sox just wrapped up their first series of the year. Due to division rivalries being a huge thing, they still have 16 more games to play this season. You may or may not have heard, but on Wednesday, there was a bit of a brawl. I’d be really surprised if you didn’t know this, because MLB spent Wednesday night and a good part of Thursday discussing the fracas. It wasn’t even the only brawl of the day, but it will definitely be the most hyped one. Sorry, Rockies and Padres. We still love you.
Okay, let me be honest for a second. I only called it a brawl in the headline and first paragraph to generate clicks. I’m calling it a melee for the rest of this article because Melee was a better Smash Bros. game than Brawl. Stupid random slipping mechanic. I mean seriously, who the bunt thought that was a good idea? “OH HEY, WHY DON’T I JUST HAVE MY FIGHTERS RANDOMLY TRIP DURING A MATCH! BRILLIANT!!” I’m so glad they fixed that in the Wii U Smash Bros. It better not come back for the upcoming Switch game.
Where was I? Oh right, the melee. The Yankees and Red Sox got into a little tiff on Wednesday night. You know the story. Tyler Austin slid into Brock Holt. Joe Kelly threw at Tyler Austin. A scuffle commenced. Suspensions were given. Stories were written. More stories were written. A flock of stories sang “and I ran, I ran so far away!” from atop the precipice of baseball. A light shined down from the heavens upon the eastern shores of North America. #TheRivalry was back.
Do not worry, red squiggly line underneath #TheRivalry. I’m well aware that you normally do not connect the words “the” and “rivalry” and then put a number sign in front of it. We’re done with normal though. The only proper way to describe the over-hyped, over-promoted, overzealous competition between the Yankees and Red Sox is to use the pound key and pound the history of it into our heads over and over and over again. Spacing and proper English are for normal things. Stop looking at me like that, squiggles!
Even before the season began, the hype for the oncoming 19-game storm between these two clubs was swelling. It’s no surprise. Both teams made the playoffs last year. Both teams have exciting, budding young stars to complement each other. The other teams in the AL East range between the shrug emoji and whatever the polite term for trash is.* In a season where competition between baseball clubs will probably not be that great, the Yankees and Red Sox will undoubtedly provide for some exciting baseball.
On Wednesday, MLB got its dream scenario: a perfect graphically updated port of Super Smash Bros. Melee on the Nintendo Switch.
Okay look, there’s a reason, other than my usual nerdliness, that I continue to bring up Smash Bros. Melee. I love the game so very much, but it was broken. It has extremely exploitable glitches that became cheap ways for players to win. For the record, they still hold tournaments that pay way more money than I make in a year to win at Melee. The game is 17 years old. Most non-gamers reading this probably do not care. Most Melee fans also probably do not care. The only reason I bring it up is because the nostalgia for this game is 100% real and a bit weird. It reminds me so much of #TheRivalry.
#TheRivalry – god I hate starting off a paragraph with a hashtag – is pure, unadulterated nostalgia fuel, and not in a good way. It is the painfully uncomfortable/laughable scene in Star Trek Into Darkness when Spock yells out “KHANNNN!” It is designed to constantly remind you of the of olden days of beefy yore. It’s why the Yankees and Red Sox will always play each other 19 games a year. It’s why you will at least see two ESPN Sunday Night Baseball games between the two a year. The August 5th NYY/BOS game has the time as TBD, but who are they kidding? It’s ratings gold for ESPN and FOX. It’s a lot of articles for the written sports media.
Wednesday’s melee had the collective baseball sports media frothing at the mouth. “Good to have some bad blood back between the Yanks and Sox” was a caption that was written, because of course it was. The competition between the two clubs was always going to be there, but now the beef is on the grill. They can cook the beef all year and their audience will salivate at the chance to take a bite. They might as well brand the burger bun with #TheRivalry iron.
I don’t know why I’m being this harsh or snarky towards all of this. I love it when the Yankees beat the Red Sox. Heck, I love it when any team beats the Red Sox. I hate their team. I hate their stupid “everything closes early” city. The hate and sadness of their fanbase fuels my pinstriped blood cells. My favorite part of visiting the Revered Hall of Doubles was the statue outside of it with Ted Williams patting the head of a child. My immediate thought was “you know, there’s a good chance that child probably never saw the Red Sox win a championship” and I smiled. That’s the type of Boston hating Yankees fan that I am. I just hate being pandered to even more than I hate the Red Sox. Barely.
For me, #TheRivalry is like the first season of Gotham. Well, more like the first half of the first season of Gotham. I couldn’t even hate watch more than that. In that first half, the writers felt that bludgeoning you over the head with “Stop speaking in riddles, Nygma” or “Ivy Pepper” or “lets always have a silhouette over half of Harvey Dent’s face” was the way to go. Instead of letting things comes naturally, they delivered a tour de force of “HEY STUPID, THESE PEOPLE ARE BATMAN VILLAINS” in the most pandering and intelligence insulting way possible.
The non-hashtag rivalry between the Yankees and the Red Sox came naturally over many years. Yesterday’s melee came naturally due to the emotional reactions of man-children playing a man-child game. It happens. It’s baseball. Throwing at people is dumb. Sliding into their shins with cleats is dumb. It’s going to continue because that’s the sport. There might be, and should be, harsher penalties in the future for it. Those penalties still won’t stop a good portion of it from happening. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t exist. The point is that baseball is dumb, baseball is fun, and players should be healthy.
What galls my goat is that this is all considered “good for the game.” As previously mentioned, the competition between the Yankees and the Red Sox was always going to be there. It always is, hashtagged or not. The idea that this melee is only going to make it more heated, fiercer, and more epically epic just seems ludicrous to me. What Yankee fan or Red Sox fan doesn’t want to see their team beat the other? It’s natural. It’s practically infused into our very DNA.
Aaron Judge and Mookie Betts can share a plate of Hirata Pork Buns at Ippudo, go watch Avengers: Infinity War, and be best of friends. That won’t change the fact that I want the Yankees to crush the Red Sox so I can season my Arroz con Pollo with the salty tears of their fans. I don’t need blood. I don’t need fists. I don’t need Mastered Ultra Instinct Son Giancarlo fighting in a tournament of power with Jiren Bradley Jr. for the fate of universes.** I just need baseball. Enjoyable, natural, competitive, delicious baseball.
What makes it even more asinine is that MLB is suspending Tyler Austin & Joe Kelly after spending the entire night into day showcasing the melee.
“Check this out! Yankees vs. Red Sox Isn’t this fight awesome? Baseball is the best. So heated. So fierce. Oh yeah, and they’re suspended because, you know, rules be rules. HASHTAG #THERIVALRY!” -actually MLB
Or, to put it another way...
Like I said, I just need competitive baseball. That’s not what I’m getting though. I’m getting #TheRivalry shoved down my throat, because it is just fan-fabuloso for the sport.
It’s no problem that a decent portion of teams are going to be Gotham levels of terrible, thereby removing a lot of the competitive edge of the sport. Remember when Pedro Martinez attacked Don Zimmer? Super big #TheRivalry moment, AMIRITE?
It’s totally rad that MLB owners wouldn’t lose that much money if they allocated funds to their minor league systems and paid the players a livable wage. You know, cause #TheRivalry has A-ROD VS. BIG PAPI. WHO YA GOT??
Baseball is at its best when it ignores all the things that are wrong with it. At least these two hated rivals have no items and are playing on Final Destination. Don’t you get it? The Yankees and Red Sox have bad blood between them again. Baseball players are absolutely, positively not going to strike in a few years due to the clusterbunt the owners and idiotic MLBPA leadership are currently perpetuating. BENCHES HAVE CLEARED IN FENWAY. BASEBALL IS FUN AGAIN.
It’s very possible that I’m over-blowing all of this and that connecting the two things is classic dumb, rant-laden I’mGivingYouARaise. Perhaps I am just getting old and this is my official cloud yelling moment. Perhaps #TheRivalry has just pound keyed the love I had for a Yankees vs. Red Sox game out of me. Maybe it’s just that I look at so many fans who will support their team’s players when they get into a fist fight with other teams, but absolutely will not support them when they get into a wage war with their team’s insanely wealthy owners in the future. It’s probably all of the above. Especially the latter though.
NOW, having said all of that, kick their worthless Beantown butts, Yankees!
*The polite term is bullpen day.
**I absolutely need to see this. Go Son Giancarlo.