By Matthew Cunha
Of all four major professional sports, the one I follow the least is the baseball. The 162 game schedule is obnoxious, the length of games can be unbearable, and action can be lacking. Don’t get me wrong, I am still an avid follower of the Red Sox, I just don’t keep up with the rest of the league like I do in other sports and will never sit down to watch a whole regular season baseball game. The games are long and often uneventful.
The controversial events between the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox have sparked my interest. It has given me a reason to sit down and watch the games. My interest in the sport was sparked back when the Sox and Yankees rivalry was at the tipping point in the 2004 season. I will never forget A-Rod and Varitek going at it or Pedro taking down 72 year-old Don Zimmer in the 2003 ALDS. A good rivalry is one of the best things sports has to offer.
I am not saying that Manny Machado spiking Dustin Pedroia, or Matt Barnes throwing at Machado’s head, or Chris Sale throwing behind Machado knee was the right thing to do. I am just saying that this brewing rivalry is great television. My early May interest in the Red Sox has not been this high since the early season Sox and Yankees game when that rivalry actually existed more than a decade ago.
My fellow drivers have rightfully been very critical of some of the decisions made by the Sox during the past couple of weeks. They speak of the situation ending and of how to stop tensions between the teams. I’ll be honest, I don’t want the feud to stop. I want to hate Manny Machado as much as I hated Alex Rodriguez. I want a rivalry to exist and I want to be able to sit down on summer nights and be able to watch a whole baseball game.
On Wednesday morning, I watched Manny Machado go on an expletive filled rant about his lack of respect for the Red Sox organization and I have not felt that annoyed at a baseball player in a long time. I felt this pride of being a Red Sox fan that does not come out as nearly as often as it does for the other teams. At the same time, I feel this overwhelming support for Chris Sale and how he handled the situation. By sending a message, and then backing it up with an ace-like performance on the mound, Sale carried the Sox out of slump vs. a very good and now hated Baltimore team. One night earned him so much love from Sox fans because of what he did, but also because of the team he did it against.
The recent events have seen some questionable behavior, but if you are arguing that it is bad for baseball, it’s not. The greatest sporting events happen when the two teams genuinely do not like each other. If baseball wants to attract more eyes, any legitimate rivalry would help their cause. No one can pass up a good rivalry. Not even the most casual of fan.
Matthew Cunha is a producer of The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.