There was a time when if you were a fan, you lived for the day when your team would play their biggest rival. The players would always seem to play with a little more heart and the fans would always get extra pumped up. What happened to the days when Boston and New York baseball fans couldn’t even sit together? What happened to the days where players would feed off the crowd and steal a base or turn a single into a double just because they were playing their “arch-rival”? Those days seem to be gone.
It is evidenced by the newly acquired Yankee, Kevin Youkilis. Youk, as so many fans know him as, used to be a guy about the rivalries and playing with a little more effort to embarrass the teams his team was in competition with. Youk was one of the biggest Boston Red Sox player involved in one of the most heated sports rivalries. Now, he is playing for them and fans that used to curse him when he would get the big hit off a Yankees’ pitcher will be cheering for him. Where is the loyalty?
Can fans overlook the bitter hatred for a player if it helps make their team better? In reality, it all depends on how the player performs for their team. If the player hits a grand slam in a playoff game, they will become a new fan favorite. However, if the player strikes out in the bottom of the 9th when the team is down a run and there is a player on third, well things might not work out as well. However, what about the players? Does this mean they have no loyalty to the team they had so many memories with?
Kevin Youkilis is definitely not the first player to go to their rival team. In fact, he is not even the first to leave Boston for pinstripes in New York City. Boston cannot forget when Wade Boggs and Roger Clemens went to the Big Apple to win the World Series. However, Youk is different. He was always the guy who played for the fans and lived for the big moments against big teams. People tuned into his at-bats because there was always a possibility a pitcher might try to throw at him and a fight would ensue. He was a player who helped these rivalries live up to all the hype. It seems that once he puts the pinstripes on, he wipes away all the fun of hating division rivals.