Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees: Who's the Real Evil Empire Now?
It has been quite the month for the Boston Red Sox.
First they blow the biggest September lead in Major League Baseball history.
Then, after the historic meltdown, there were anonymous sources discussing events in the dugout during games, which might have provided an explanation for the collapse. These reports from The Boston Globe claimed that starting pitchers John Lackey, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett were drinking beers and playing video games in the clubhouse during some games.
Along with this report were allegations that manager Terry Francona was abusing pain medication during the year. Many assume that this might have affected him on the field. Francona announced his resignation shortly after the year.
With the Red Sox organization seemingly falling apart, general manager Theo Epstein also wanted out. Yesterday he officially resigned as GM of the Red Sox to become the President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs.
After all that happened this year, who is to blame?
Terry Francona? The pitchers? The GM?
Many believe these anonymous sources to be the Red Sox owners: John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino.
Whoever the sources were, they threw many people under the bus—a move that resembles something the "Evil Empire" would do.
Are the Sox the new Evil Empire?
Here is why the Evil Empire still exists in the Bronx, NY.
George Steinbrenner's Legacy
George Steinbrenner is a genius. He is a pioneer who ultimately changed the outlook of the game.
His willingness to spend top dollar on top free agents was one of the trademarks of his tenure with the New York Yankees. He did anything that was necessary to win.
You respected what he did and the success he had, but that doesn't mean you didn't dislike him and what he represented. Steinbrenner was baseball's representative of corporate America. He would sign these players because he could.
"The Boss" played the role of the big, bad wolf, while teams with low payrolls watched Steinbrenner bring in all of the big names.
If there is anyone who is the face of the "Evil Empire" it's George Steinbrenner, even after his death.
The Yankees Have A-Rod
When the Yankees traded for Alex Rodriguez before the MLB trade deadline in 2004, they added the highest-paid player in the majors to their roster; he was earning a little more than $25 million a year.
A-Rod was heavily scrutinized in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS for swiping at Bronson Arroyo's glove and knocking the ball out. After the Yankees blew a 3-0 lead in the ALCS, he was blamed for underachieving throughout the playoffs, especially during the series against the Sox.
In 2009 A-Rod confessed to using steroids during a three-year period while playing for the Texas Rangers.
This year he earned $32 million, which is almost $6 million more than the next highest-paid baseball player, Vernon Wells.
It is safe to say that Rodriguez has become one of most disliked athletes in the United States. It's only fitting that he is playing for one of the most disliked franchises in the world.
The Yankees' Annual Payroll
In 2011 the Yankees' Opening Day payroll was $201.7 million—the highest team payroll this year.
The salaries of the four players in this picture combined equal a little more than $94 million. That $94 million is more than 18 other major league teams' total payroll.
Their Ability To Acquire Big-Name Free Agents
Larry Lucchino, President and CEO of the Boston Red Sox, came up with the term "Evil Empire" after the Yankees outbid the Sox for pitcher Jose Contreras in 2002.
As mentioned before, George Steinbrenner was the mastermind behind major free-agent acquisitions for decades.
Unfortunately for Steinbrenner and the Yankees, they have had numerous questionable free-agent signings in the past decade, including Carl Pavano in 2004. These multi-million dollar deals have ultimately hurt the Yankees the past two years, as they have relied heavily on their offense without a solid starting rotation.
Whether their free agents play up to their potential or not, the Yankees still get their man most of the time, and they are always in the running for the next available free agent.
Although the Red Sox have been active with signing big-name free agents, it seems as if the Yankees still have the upper hand in this aspect.
The Logo Has Been Tweaked
This DeadSpin.com article in August describes how a Yankees fan created a T-shirt business that ran into legal trouble with the team.
The fan had altered the Yankees logo to go along with the "Evil Empire" theme. The Yankees legal team contacted Tracy and Kevin Carey to discuss the team's displeasure with the business and with the logos.
The term "evil empire" has a negative connotation because the word "evil" refers to that which is morally wrong or bad, immoral, wicked, harmful and/or injurious. The BASEBALLS EVIL EMPIRE mark will be understood to refer to the Club, and, upon information and belief, is clearly intended to do so, and thus may disparage Opposer[The Yankees], or bring Opposer into contempt or disrepute among a significant segment of the consuming public.
When a team has to go through a legal process to prevent the production and distribution of shirts like this, then you know they obviously have a level of Evil Empire-ness in them.
The Meltdown at the End of the Year
The Yankees suffered their own meltdown in the ALCS 2004, but I am going to say that this has to be worse.
This collapse of epic proportions really put a sour taste on what was a solid seven years for the organization.
Getting knocked out of the playoffs is one thing, but blowing your chance to make it is another.
Curse of the Bambino
Most baseball fans know exactly what this is about. The curse is well documented.
Babe Ruth gets sold from the Red Sox to the Yankees in 1920.
Babe Ruth becomes the home run king, a World Series champion and a Hall of Famer.
The Sox don't win a World Series for 86 years. During this time, the team and its fans were haunted by the four B's: Babe, Bucky, Buckner and Boone.
I am not sure it's fitting to ever call the Sox the Evil Empire, no matter how much success they have in the future, as they have suffered throughout the years. It just wouldn't seem right.
Red Sox Still Feel Like an Underdog
Despite winning more championships than the Yankees in the past decade, the Red Sox still feel like an underdog.
Although they have seemingly gotten the best of the Yanks since that heartbreaking 2003 ALCS, it never felt as if they had the overwhelming upper hand going into any of the seasons.
Maybe it's because of their 86-year wait, or maybe it's the fact that they face the Evil Empire 19 times a year.
Every time they match up, it's a reminder of the bad blood between them, and unfortunately for the Sox, a reminder of their history.
Red Sox Fans Don't Want That Evil Empire Image
After 86 years of heartbreak, do you think the Red Sox fans want this label of the "Evil Empire" on them?
I don't think so.
Sox fans wouldn't and couldn't embrace that image, but many Yankees fans have fallen in love with the concept.
Boston fans have spent too many years being pessimistic about their team to take that title now. With their team's performance in September and the shakeup of the organization in October, I don't think the fans will think anything of the sort...over the next few months anyway.