Thursday, August 18, 2016

This Inevitable Schedule-gate

The Boston Red Sox are surging. They have won six straight games and stand a good chance to make the playoffs, either by winning the American League East or one of the two Wild Card spots. The Detroit Tigers, meanwhile, are faltering, dropping eight of their last ten and slipping further back from that second Wild Card spot. But, to add insult to injury, today's game is now a scheme by the city of Detroit to "mess with" the Boston Red Sox. Wha-...?

I'll get to the facts first, just so we're all on the same page. The Red Sox played a game last night that went late due to rain delays. Due for an early flight to Detroit, they allegedly requested a move from an afternoon start to an evening start. Sound like a simple request? Unfortunately the Lions, who play across the street from the Tigers, have a preseason game scheduled for the same time, which would cause a traffic and logistics backlog in the city. So today's game on the 2016 Major League Baseball schedule, established over a year ago, will have to suffice.

Except the fans won't stand for it. After fans took notice to the tragedy, articles started cropping up about how the Tigers are purposely doing this to hamstring the Red Sox. Just like that, the Tigers are unwittingly forced into a heel turn.

Here's my trajectory: I woke up and read about the conflict, and dismissed it with a "What? Huh." But the more I thought of it, the more it just didn't make sense. To use such aggressive language--the Tigers are "manipulating" the schedule--is simply unfair. I drove to work in silence, becoming more upset by the mile. I mean, to even consider that this is an intentional way to gain an advantage is absolutely absurd. I checked some more articles only to find distraught Sox fans seeking a little payback and revenge for the way they've been mistreated1. By now, I'm just about irate and have been seething ever since.

For me, I've just had enough with feeling sorry for Boston sports teams. Nothing is ever their fault when things go wrong, and yet their teams have won nearly a dozen championships in the last two decades. I'm sorry; you don't get to be the underdog and the champion too. We can only hope this will balloon into a Deflategate-esque saga so we can witness how persecuted the city of Boston is by another major sports league. Please, Red Sox Nation, you are not maligned, and no one outside of Massachusetts thinks you are.

Most Boston sports fans--self-named "Massholes"--will say that sports are just different in the northeast. They just love their teams so passionately that (of course) the rest of the country would take offense to it. Also, all Boston teams are successful with recent championships so (of course) it's popular for the rest of the country to dislike them. I’m sure everyone’s heard the “Don’t hate us ‘cause we’ve got the rings!” defense. It's always Boston versus the world. Right? Well, I disagree. I have no problems with championship teams, but I do have a problem with excuses that turn very public (and largely unfounded). Celtics fans pulled similar excuses last season when they nearly handed the Warriors their first loss. No, you cannot force me to feel sorry.

I know what all of this sounds like. Believe me: I’ve read it all from stuck-up Sox fans this morning on Twitter. The Tigers are on a losing streak, punctuated by a horrendous loss last night after destroying a one-hit shutout effort from the starting pitcher, Anibal Sanchez. So, I must be bitter? Well, sure, I don’t like the losses, but last night was last night, and I’m looking to move on. Or maybe I’m still upset about the loss in the 2013 American League Championship Series? Yeah, that was the most crushing experience of my time watching baseball, but it has no bearing on today. This has nothing to do with the past; it has to do with journalists and fans attacking my favorite team without reason. It bothers me, so I’d like to defend them.

The way I see it, there are two ways this can play out2, and neither of them are pretty. A) the Tigers win today, and Red Sox Nation complains that the game was not on a fair plane. Or B) the Sox win today, and the Tigers suffer yet another humiliating defeat (I mean, they did get to sleep in this morning). In either case, the Tigers are in a no-win position. What would make it better? Detroit could offer to play without a shortstop, or maybe even start every at bat with an 0-1 count. Would that help? Maybe Red Sox Nation could get the NFL to move the Lions game to tomorrow? To be sure, the NFL owes the people of Boston something as well. For what it's worth, I hope the Tigers win by 40. They're already the villains, apparently; they might as well win big. Go Tigers.

1 To be fair, Tigers fans are also claiming the "Suck it up: you're a professional ballplayer, so you should be able to play in these conditions" stance. I'm not too proud to see my fellow fans sinking to this level, but hey, this whole thing's a mess.
2 The third way was that the game actually got moved to the evening, which would have proved whining always wins.