Like my boss here at Yanks Go Yard, my other half is a Red Sox fan. It makes for some interesting dinner fodder, especially this season when both teams are strongly underachieving. This past weekend, we shared our first experience together, watching the greatest rivalry is sports live in the Bronx.
Masahiro Tanaka pitched a nice game. He was cruising through 8 and 2/3 and two strikes, but inevitably shook off a splitter to pitch the deciding fastball that Mike Napoli put over the short right field porch. While my visit to the Stadium didn’t turn out as happily as I had hoped, it wasn’t the loss that got me riled up. The Bronx is boiling, folks, and I need to blow some steam.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE YANKEES AND SOX RIVALRY?
I am of the old school Yankees’ fans. I spent a lot of Saturday afternoon’s and week nights across the street in the old Yankee Stadium. When the Sox came to town, the fans were relentless. The four guys that sat behind me would boo and insult every last person that walked past us wearing anything Boston. I mean anyone. I remember them making a little girl in Red Sox garb cry. I remember one time, watching a Red Sox fan throw a beer at a Yankee fan and the Yankees fan standing up and punching the guy down three rows in the upper deck. Now, I don’t personally encourage or believe in the violence aspect, but that’s how it used to be. Yankees and Red Sox fans just didn’t like each other when they came to our house.
On Saturday, my fiancé sat next to me in full Red Sox garb… and not one person said a word to her the entire game. The only person that was booing in her face every time David Ortiz came to bat was myself. After the game, when we were walking to the parking lot, a Yankees fan said in passing, “Good game tonight.” Excuse me? Did a Yankees’ fan seriously utter those words?
What happened to the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry? It is still the greatest rivalry in all of sports, but has it lost it’s luster? After my experience at the Stadium, I think the rivalry is a little bit lacking in what it used to be back in my day. Part of the reason this year has to lie in the fact that, as previously mentioned, both teams are underachieving. Fans are unhappy in general with both of their respective teams, that it is harder to be angry at someone else’s. However, I think there are three primary reasons that The Rivalry isn’t quite what it used to be.
3. Those pesky Rays. The Tampa Bay Rays’ rise to relevance in the AL East (this year excluded) has taken a little bit away from the Yankees and Red Sox slugfest the East once was. There was a good ten-year run from the mid-90s to the mid 2000s, that the only teams that mattered in the AL East, and arguably the entire AL, were the Sox and the Yanks. They would fight to the wire for the division, and then would frequently meet in a monumental playoff series to determine who would go on to become World Champs. Since the Rays hit their stride in 2005, there has been another team to worry about, and that has taken some of the energy from despising the Sox as much as fans have in the past.
2. The Sox won. I know, it disgusts me to say it as well, but the 2004 World Championship changed the course of history. The “1918” chant became meaningless. The constant reminder of the 80 plus years of being a Yankees’ afterthought was out the window. The Curse of The Bambino was broken.
1. The New Yankee Stadium. It’s not the same. If you read Mariano Rivera’s The Closer, one of the most beloved Yankees of all time admits to this himself. The downstairs is a who’s who of A-list New Yorkers and the rest of the Stadium seems to be a social experience as opposed to die hards brought together, who don’t accept anything but victory. There was nothing shiny or glamorous about the Old Yankee Stadium, but that’s what made it the greatest place on Earth. You had all sorts of riffraff that could afford to come to games on the regular, that were passionate abut the Yankees. You would see a lot of familiar faces if you frequented the Stadium on a weekly basis. Now, those diehards seem to have been priced out with the excessive cost of tickets and beer, and it is more of a night out on the town than a bunch of fans united in the utter beat down of an opponent.
I still had fun at the game. I will never like the Sox. But there is no denying that something was different Saturday night. The final score was 2-1. Both Red Sox runs came on home runs, and neither were thrown back. That would never go down at The House that Ruth Built.