Given the unquantifiable nature of intangibles, you can’t account for pride, desperation and anger as meaning anything.
Every time I mention the word “pride” in a sports context, I think back to the interminable Mike Francesa show from Bar A with the unlistenable Southside Johnny. Francesa had the lead singer (is his name even Johnny?) as a guest, asked him how he thought the Yankees were going to do this year and “Johnny” began muttering something about wondering whether they were “gonna have the pride”.
If a caller presented that to Francesa, he’d have scrunched up his face in bewildered disgust, condescendingly asked him what he was talking about and hung up on him.
In this case, it’s not so much pride as it is the rivalry and history between the Yankees and Red Sox that could be like the red cape to the bull.
I don’t expect the Yankees to lay down to the Red Sox or Rays. While they absolutely have their preferences as to whom they’re going to play in the playoffs, manipulating the match-ups has a great chance of backfiring. Of the three teams that are fighting for the Wild Card, the Yankees won’t want any part of the Angels.
They can’t control that.
With the Red Sox collapse and full-blown panic engulfing the club, media and fan base, they need something to wake them up. Could the sight of pinstripes, undisguised smugness, smirking and barely concealed laughter at the way the Red Sox team that was supposed to challenge the 1927 Yankees has come apart spur them to play the way they did in the summer and not like the one that lost 3 of 4 games to the Orioles and is staggering around like a punch-drunk boxer?
The Red Sox need something to awaken them. Would it be such a shock if it wound up being the Yankees?