The Red Sox are in the Big Apple this weekend to face their most hated rivals. Or are they? True, the bloom has been off the proverbial rivalry rose since we officially bested the Yanks in 2004 and reversed The Curse. Things have cooled off considerably in the past thirteen years, with us winning three big ass rings. 1918 this is not.
Between 1918 and 2004, there was so much shit. World’s Least-Deserving Team Owner and pile of human garbage Harry Frazee literally sold Babe Ruth – and, some people forget, ownership of Fenway Park – up the river to finance a freaking Broadway musical. To quote Fever Pitch, “No No Nanette, like I’d ever see that piece of crap.” Ruth’s arrival in New York in 1921 led to him having a literal banner season, and the Yankees winning their first World Series. We’ve faced the Yankees over two-thousand times since 1901, and there’s been more crazy shit between us than with any other team.
Remember how it used to be? Growing up, our rivalry was legit. The rare Yankee fan at my predominantly Red Sox fan-filled Jewish private school got tormented on the daily. As a child, a friend of mine got spit on attending one of the infamous 2004 ALCS games. If you’ve ever asked yourself, “who would spit on a child?” now you have your answer: crazed Bostonians and New Yorkers during sporting events.
Even after 2004, there was a considerable uproar when Johnny Damon and Jacoby Ellsbury jumped ship for the Evil Empire. Ellsbury still gets booed when he bats at Fenway. I even got called a bitch for wearing my 2004 ALCS Champions sweatshirt my freshman year at Columbia in 2011. There’s an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to this drama.
And people love to discuss it, too. This season, WEEI on slow days and NESN in-game coverage talk the rivalry ad nauseam, whether it is or isn’t alive and how the teams can resurrect it. Resurrect it? You can’t formulate or fake a rivalry. It either is or it isn’t. Anything you fake won’t feel as real as Varitek shoving his mitt into ARod’s face, or Joe DiMaggio winning the 1941 AL MVP despite Ted Williams being the first player to hit over .400 that year. Anything these teams manufacture won’t compare to literal decades of Yankees fans chanting “1918” and shoving their rings down our pre-2004 loser throats. You can’t fake the frustration of the richest team in the league swooping in and offering players we wanted to sign a couple extra millions to put on pinstripes instead of sox – though I have to say thanks for helping us dodge the bullet with ARod.
Red Sox and Yankee fandoms are suckers for pain, strife, and a heated game. I mean, we used to throw old batteries and light bulbs at the players on the field, for god’s sake. We live for a good fight the same way our two cities raced each other to build the first underground subway system (which Boston won, FYI.) The rivalry was real and will probably be real again, but don’t you dare try to fake it with some bullshit, because we know the difference, and we deserve better.
Now, in the current state of the game – knock on wood – I’m not that worried, though whenever I say something like that, everything goes to hell. The Sox are in first place, have won eight straight, and the Yankees have lost six of their last nine games. New golden boy Aaron Judge has just set a franchise record… for striking out in twenty-six consecutive games. One more, and he’ll match the number of championships they won before they started sucking. With Chris Sale and a surprisingly-good Drew Pomeranz taking care of two out of the three games in this series, I’m pretty confident that the Yankees are going to be calling us their Daddy this weekend.
I’ll always hate the Yankees, but it’s more tacit, it doesn’t burn the way it used to. It requires energy for me to actively dislike the Yankees, and honestly, I have bigger things to worry about. I’m not saying I’ll ever forget the shame of being bested by the Yankees, but for now, I’m just ready for a baseball series that is guaranteed to be a bit more intense than with other teams, and then I’m going to just live my life. Whatever will be, will be.