Friday, July 16, 2010

Will Girardi be the new villain for Boston fans?

The Boston Red Sox made an incredibly classy gesture with a heartfelt tribute to New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner and longtime public address announcer Bob Sheppard, honoring them with a moment of silence at Fenway Park that was respected by the 37,000+ in attendance despite their hatred for the Bronx Bombers.

But Steinbrenner’s death leaves a gaping hole in the hearts of Red Sox fans for one key reason: he was the guy they loved to hate. It was easy to despise the Yankees under the tumultuous reign of the Boss, which consisted of fierce battles between the two teams both on the field and in the front office, memorably leading to Larry Lucchino’s infamous “Evil Empire” nickname for the Yanks. But now that the Boss is no longer around to curse, who will the Red Sox faithful direct their anger toward?

My money is on Yankees manager Joe Girardi. He managed to piss off Red Sox Nation by choosing Alex Rodriguez over Kevin Youkilis for the All-Star team. I can see the argument in favor of Youkilis, but you can’t expect any manager to pass over his own guy for a player from his team’s arch enemy. Girardi gave them reason to be even madder at him when he announced that Boston third baseman Adrian Beltre would be replaced on the All-Star roster by Michael Young. The problem was that Beltre hadn’t withdrawn from the team and had no intention of doing so and he is apparently still angry at the slight from Girardi, who never apologized directly to him for the gaffe. Most importantly, Girardi guided the Yanks to their most recent World Series title and is inching closer to another playoff berth, which will likely come at the expense of the Red Sox.

Boston fans will always hate Yankees Captain Derek Jeter, even if they privately admit to some grudging respect for him. And ARod for sure is a real easy target. Even CC Sabathia could be the bad guy due to his willingness to knock down Red Sox batters in retaliation for his guys getting hit. But Girardi has inadvertently offended the Red Sox faithful twice. And if there’s one thing we know about Red Sox fans, they never forget.

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