Friday Night’s David Ortiz/Ron Kulpa Incident May Have Actually Been Good For The Red Sox/Yankees Rivalry

David Ortiz

When you think of baseball rivalries, you think of the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. Whether it was Bucky “f***ing” Dent, the numerous amounts of infamous brawls sparked by Carlton Fisk/Thurman Munson, Pedro Martinez/Don Zimmer, Jason Varitek/Alex Rodriguez,  Aaron “f***ing” Boone’s walk-off homer, or the ’04 comeback, the Sox and Yanks have had seemingly endless amounts of reasons to keep hating on one another over the years. That is, of course, until about the last six or seven seasons. Since 2004, the Sox and Yanks haven’t met in the postseason, and both teams have not been in the postseason together since 2009. 

Growing up in New England, you were either one of three things: a Red Sox fan, a Yankee fan, or a Met fan. And, if you were a Met fan, you were hated equally by both Red Sox and Yankee fans. But now, due to the Sox/Yankee rivalry not being as heated as it used to be, people across New England and the tri-state area have lost a lot of that hatred for whatever the other side of the rivalry may be for them.

Along with the lack of postseason meetings since the famous ’04 comeback by Boston over New York, series between the Yankees and Red Sox just don’t have the same intensity as they used to both on the field, in the dugout, and in the stands. Much of that lost intensity can be credited to the retirements of Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Jorge Posada, Nomar Garciaparra, Mariano Rivera, and most importantly: Derek Jeter. The current rosters of the Red Sox and Yankees are full of young players (Mookie Betts, Travis Shaw, Didi Gregorious, Xander Bogaerts, Dellin Betances) who do not add the same excitement and intensity to the rivalry as the players back in the Golden Age of Red Sox/Yankee bad-blood from 1999-2007. Currently, only a combined two players on both rosters were present during the 2004 ALCS in David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez. The presence of both Ortiz and A-Rod are really the only two things keeping this rivalry afloat, and that was abundantly clear on Friday night.  

On Friday night, the two teams squared off in the Bronx and the Red Sox fell victim to a fair share of questionable pitches that were deemed strikes by home plate umpire Ron Kulpa throughout the game. Down by a run with the bases loaded and one out in the ninth inning, David Ortiz had two pitches which appeared to be low (the second was a lot more low than the first) called strikes after being ahead in the count, 3-1, resulting in a strikeout rather than a walk that would have plated the tying run. After strolling back to the dugout in frustration, Big Papi sprinted out of the dugout and absolutely blew up on Kulpa. Ortiz and Red Sox manager, John Farrell, were both ejected from the game following their arguments with Kulpa on the calls. 

3-1 Pitch:

Full Incident From YES/NESN And The 3-2 Pitch:

Ortiz’s Reaction:

Whether or not you think those pitches were balls or strikes (they were so clearly balls, f*** Ron Kulpa), this incident did do one positive thing for Red Sox fans after robbing their team of a game: get people to start talking about the Red Sox and Yankee rivalry again. Incidents from the last several seasons such as the Ryan Dempster beaning of A-Rod, the Michael Pineda pine tar situation, and others have had their ways of sparking tensions between Red Sox and Yankees fans, but for the most part, neither incident really stuck in the minds of either fanbase. This incident on Friday, however, while it was not a direct interaction between the Red Sox and Yankees and it was more between the Red Sox and umpire Ron Kulpa, has had its way of getting fans of both sides fired up, Twitter especially. And, this could be the start of a rebirth of the rivalry, as crazy as that may sound. 

Barstool Sports Baseball Writer/CSN Analyst, Jared Carrabis (Big Red Sox Guy):

* I went to Taco Bell too after that one, Jared. 

Barstool Sports Baseball Writer, Jack Jokinen (Huge Yankee Guy):

And Other Miscellaneous Strong-Opinioned Tweets Following The Incident:

With both Ortiz and A-Rod seemingly heading towards the end of their careers (Ortiz has already announced that 2016 will be his final MLB season), it’s only fair to assume that the Red Sox and Yankees rivalry could become even more dead than it already is. However, Friday night’s incident in the Bronx and the Twitter firestorm that ensued seems to have sparked something that fans of the Red Sox and Yankees haven’t done in quite some time, and that is to agree to disagree on something immensely. Hate the calls or love the calls by Kulpa and the freak out by Ortiz, but respect the fact that the Red Sox and Yankees are giving you reasons to hate the opposing side of the rivalry despite the fact that the main characters in this rivalry are out of baseball. So, thank you, I guess, to Ron Kulpa? You surely aren’t going to be getting any free beers in Boston anytime soon, nevermind not having your meal spat in if anybody at a Beantown restaurant recognizes you, but you may have helped bring the Red Sox/Yankee rivalry back from the dead. A-Rod and David Ortiz have carried this rivalry on their backs for about seven years now but you, Ron Kulpa, helped make it more interesting with just one night of horrendous umpiring, so bravo to you, fine sir!

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