- Steve Etheridge, ESPN Playbook
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I think it’s fair to say that everyone’s pretty satisfied with the rivalry between the Rays and the Red Sox right now. How it’s grown since 2008! This weekend’s series brought us a bench-clearing almost-brawl, Bobby Valentine taking salty jabs at Maddon & Co and a deliciously catty bit of drama involving the pregame warm-up music that largely went under the radar.
Here’s what happened.
B.J. Upton, annoyed with Fenway’s custom of cutting off music during batting practice, ran an extension cord from the dugout and bumped his own jams from a boombox before Saturday’s game. The folks in the booth didn’t take kindly to the insubordination, so they started blaring organ music to spoil the fun. Then, before Sunday’s game, the Fenway PA system played "Fur Elise" and other classical tunes during BP -- the kind of stuff that could deplete the Rays of energy or lull Don Zimmer’s giant baby head into a deep sleep.
The two teams don’t face again until July, when the Sox make the trip down to Florida. In the meantime, I’d expect the Tampa sound guys to devise some sort of retaliation to up the ante a bit.
They could, for instance, bombard them with the most insufferable noises possible, like the sound of old people scratching their dry elbow skin, Verizon ringtones, dental drilling, teenagers laughing or riding in a car with Jim Carrey. They could play Buckner’s grounder on loop on the JumboTron, or perhaps they could recruit BBC naturalist David Attenborough to narrate BP in his dulcet, nap-inducing whisper speak. “The Marlon Byrd, who is neither a marlin nor a bird, assumes his position in the ritualistic training cage, swinging his hickory baton skyward in a show of tremendous vigor.”
But to really amp up the psyche-out factor, the Rays need to employ the mischief during game play, greeting Red Sox hitters at the plate with customized walk-up songs. At home, Boston’s starters almost exclusively use hip-hop songs, probably because most rappers cut their teeth in Cambridge, selling poems to passers-by in Harvard Square. So why not mellow Boston’s hitters out with the least ballin’ jams possible, songs so diametrically distanced from hip-hop that they make O.A.R. sound like ODB?
I’m talkin’ like Clay Aiken's "Invisible," Melanie Safka’s “Brand New Key,” Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant,” the Proclaimers’ “500 Miles.” Whatever this song’s supposed to be. Make sure Big Papi’s got really lethargic-sounding tuba music whenever he’s up. There’s a lot of fun to be had.
So consider this a challenge, Tampa’s sound guys. Milk it for all its worth. Do your part to help make this rivalry as ugly as it can possibly be.