The Red Sox successfully navigated the first road on their postseason journey by taking out the Tampa Bay Rays three games to one in the just completed ALDS. Last night’s 3-1 win in Game 4 was a thrilling team victory but also quite satisfying because it came against a team and fan base that is quickly becoming as annoying as the Sox’ major rival, the Yankees.
From the ridiculous managerial machinations of “genius” Joe Maddon, to David Price‘s sour grapes after getting bombed at Fenway, to the hot dogging antics of Yunel Escobar, to the crooked cap on Fernando Rodney‘s head, to the abomination that is Tropicana Field, the Rays are on the fast track to being as unlikable as the Yanks. That’s what made this series win that much sweeter.
Add to that the fact Rays fans have to be the most indifferent bunch in all of baseball based on their regular season attendance numbers, and you really have a combustible mix of annoyance and dislike.
These fans have no interest in showing up during the season to watch a perennial playoff contender, yet there they were out in full force waving their blue hankies and banging their cowbells during the ALDS. It’s the height of hypocrisy: suddenly loving a team you didn’t care anything about for the first 162 games of the season.
At least Yankee fans show up to Yankee Stadium consistently and their players behave with class on the field. Sitting there watching Escobar shoot imaginary arrows into the sky after an infield single was ridiculous. And can Rodney have any less respect for the game by wearing his hat tilted to the side?
I respect the Rays organization immensely for their player development machine and the fact they continuously produce exciting young players and contend every year. But the fact that the fans don’t always show up, some of the players prefer to showboat and that the manager knows he’s the smartest guy in the room just makes it all too much to take.
I know it was an elimination game for them, but nine pitching changes in the game? Removing Jeremy Hellickson in the second inning before he even gave up a run? Saying he loves Boston this time of year in response to the possibility of a Game 5? Maddon is already on the fast track to being Bobby V. part II.
Lastly, not having to see that dank, dark mausoleum called “The Trop,” filled with booby traps in its roof, again until next season is another relief. Regardless of whom the Sox play next at least it will be on a level playing field and done outdoors.
The Red Sox may not win the American League pennant, but losing to the Tigers or A’s is a lot more palatable than it would have been losing to this bunch.