Saturday, February 26, 2005

Derek Jeter = Rated X?

I'm a midwesterner, not an east coaster, but as a baseball fan, I've often enjoyed the rivalry between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. I think the national sports media sometimes pays too much attention to these two teams, but it's hard to argue its significance on Major League Baseball over the years (especially the last 2-3 seasons).

And I've witnessed the passion of this rivalry first-hand. Last year, I caught a game at Yankee Stadium and watched a guy who was brave (or dumb) enough to wear a Red Sox shirt get mercilessly taunted by Yankee fans in his section. (The game was against the Chicago White Sox, by the way.) On the way to the subway afterwards, I passed an older gentleman waiting outside a bar, wearing a Red Sox cap, who had a Yankee fan scream "1918!" (the last year the Red Sox won the World Series before winning last year) at him.

It can be ugly. But the latest example of Yankees-Red Sox feuding is hilarious. Or it could've been, had it not been nipped in the bud. The basketball/hockey arena in Boston, previously named the FleetCenter, is undergoing a name change due to Bank of America acquiring Fleet. (Corporate blah-de-blah, I know.) While a new name is being negotiated, the owners of the arena decided to auction off one-day naming rights through eBay, with proceeds going to charity.

So Kerry Konrad, a New York attorney, thought it would be funny to tweak his Harvard classmates (and Red Sox fans) by ponying up $2,325 to name the arena "DerekJeterCenter," after the Yankees shortstop. Hey, he put up the money. And it was going to a good cause, so Boston fans would have to deal with it for one day, right?

Not so fast, my friend.

"We decided that all the names had to be rated G, and this name was determined to be obscene and vulgar," said the president and chief executive of the FleetCenter, Richard A. Krezwick (hopefully, with tongue-in-cheek). "We were afraid of the volume of phone calls bogging down our switchboard, the number of e-mails clogging our portal and the potential graffiti on the side of our building."

But there's a happy ending to the story. Konrad enlisted his ex-college roommate (and Red Sox fan) to contribute an additional $6,275 toward a 8,600 bid (86 years since the Red Sox had won the World Series - get it?) and the name JimmyFundCenter, for a Boston cancer charity.

The Red Sox and Yankees open the 2005 baseball season at Yankee Stadium on April 3, kids.

This also gives me an opportunity to plug a fun blog I recently discovered, Blue Cats & Red Sox, written by "a Bostonian at the University of Michigan." Check it out - she has some really funny rants on baseball. (How many friggin' Red Sox blogs exist, by the way? Tigers fans, let's unite and get our voices out there. Geez.)