Alvey’s Opinions: The Red Sox-Yankees Rivalry, the Best in All of Sports

NYYBOSI hate the New York Yankees. And trust me, that’s not an emotion I toss around lightly.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary has two primary definitions for the word “hate”: (a) intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury; or (b) extreme dislike or antipathy. I think it would suffice to say that the latter of those two is best suited to describe the hate between the New York Yankees and die-hard Boston Red Sox fans, like myself.

“Hate” is a word that is used carelessly; it is often tossed around when describing things people, in all actuality, do not hate at all. For example, Bobby says he “hates” when Susie doesn’t talk to him. Bobby probably doesn’t really “hate” it; he just dislikes the fact that she does not answer his phone calls. I highly doubt that when he hears Susie’s voicemail message system (again!) he gets so mad that he tears the door off the hinges and breaks the windows out of his house (if he does he’s probably psychotic, but hey, who am I to judge?). But I’m betting that he doesn’t truly “hate” the fact that she doesn’t sometimes answer his calls, not according to Merriam-Webster’s definition.

One thing I can promise you is that the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is so intense – that these two teams hate each other so much – that their fans will break doors off the hinges and knock the windows out of the house when one team loses to the other. Now THAT is a rivalry. But Red Sox-Yankees is not just a rivalry; it is the best one in all of sports.

What makes the Red Sox-Yankees (yes, my continual listing of Boston before New York is intentional) rivalry so great? For starters, it’s got longevity.

These two teams have competed for over 100 years. For more than a century! What other two teams can say that? I am also a big follower of the Green Bay Packers. The Pack’s historic rivalry with the Chicago Bears doesn’t even come close to Sox-Yanks. One hundred plus years, that’s a whole lot of time for people to build up a whole lot of hate for their most fierce rival. When these two teams first met on April 26, 1901, there’s no way they could have imagined the magnitude in which this rivalry would reach or the significance it would carry into the future.

What makes the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry so great? It’s got lore.

It was still in the early stages when one of the most popular stories that helped shape this intense rivalry was born: the “Curse of the Bambino.” When we think about Babe Ruth, we typically think of him as a legendary New York Yankee, but the Great Bambino was actually a member of the Sox before he joined those Damn Yankees. You see, in 1919 Harry Frazee – the Red Sox owner at the time – sold Ruth to the Yankees out of frustration with the Babe. Ruth had threatened to hold out in hopes of netting a larger contract, and in response is when Frazee sold him to the Yankees for $125,000 and a loan of $300,000. It turns out Frazee was more interested in Broadway and wanted the money to fund a musical. So I guess you could say my Sox traded the best home run hitter in baseball, at that time and arguably in history, for a Broadway musical. In hindsight, Frazee might have overreacted a little (thanks Mr. Frazee).

curseofthebambinoFrom 1901-1918, the Red Sox had been the most successful team in baseball. They flat out dominated opponents, winning a total of five World Series in that short amount of time. But when Babe Ruth “crossed enemy lines” it had a lasting effect.

After that numbskullish transaction, Boston would endure an insane 86-year World Series drought. Even worse, they would have to watch as the Yankees began a sports dynasty that has never been matched. For the next 83 years (1920-2003) the New York would go on to win 26 World Series championships and 39 pennants. The Red Sox won a measly four pennants and of course zero World Series. The Yankees were at the pinnacle of baseball triumph while the BoSox simply suffered. The pain and anguish of that combination led people to believe that the team had been cursed for selling off Ruth. Multiple generations of Red Sox nation were forced to bear this “Curse of the Bambino” before it would finally be broken in 2004, and in the most amazing way.

What makes the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry so great? It’s got drama.

In the 2004 ALCS, the Red Sox found themselves trailing the series three games to none. It looked as if it would be another season in which the Red Sox would succumb to the Yankees and their decades of dominance. After all, no team had ever, in the history of Major League Baseball, come back from being down three games to none in a best-of-seven series. Up by one run in the ninth inning of Game 4, the curtain had all but closed on Boston. And then the impossible happened. Dave Roberts stole second base, Bill Mueller singled of the untouchable Mariano Rivera, and the game was tied. Then David Ortiz walked off with a home run in extra innings to save the Red Sox season. Boston would go on to win Game 5 in 14 innings, win Game 6 behind the arm and bloody sock of Curt Schilling, and dominate a deflated New York team 10-3 in the deciding Game 7. The Red Sox went on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. Beating the Cards broke that 86-year championship drought, but it was the unprecedented comeback against the Yankees that is celebrated as the moment that finally broke the “Curse of the Bambino”.

What makes the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry so great? It’s personal.

As if it had not been intense enough already, the Sox winning the World Series kicked up the rivalry a couple more notches. After years of being the “little brother” and constantly being kicked around by the Yankees, the Red Sox had finally leaped the hurdle and restored their prominence as one of baseball’s premiere franchises. The rivalry had returned to its rightful stage. And the timing couldn’t have been better for me personally. At this time, my trash talking had reached an all-time high. I was living with two Yankees fans while attending college and won both bets I had placed with the boys and even better than that, I had bragging rights for the next year. After being beaten and battered with Yankees talk for years about how we could not get past them in the ALCS, we were now the World Series Champs and all was good in the world. Finally, it was the Yankees left searching for answers about what had gone wrong, about why they had come up short. And nothing could have brought me more joy.

What makes the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry greater than any other in sports? The passion.

When you think about other sports like the NBA or NFL, there is not one single rivalry that is even near the magnitude of Red Sox-Yankees. Every game that the Red Sox and Yankees play is televised nationally. Every time these two teams meet, there is a sold out ballpark. No game is more intense and nowhere will you find more trash talking between not only the fans but the players as well.

Remember when Alex Rodriguez and Jason Varitek got into a scuffle at home plate?

arod varitekWhat about when Pedro Martinez threw ol’ Butterbean looking Don Zimmer to the turf?

pedro zimmerNot only do the fans hate each other but the players do as well.

Fans take this rivalry to extremes. For example, during the construction of the new Yankee Stadium one Red Sox fan placed a David Ortiz jersey in the concrete being poured for the foundation in hopes of creating a new curse, this time on the Yankees. Talk about taking the rivalry seriously; that guy was taking it to a whole other level. Where else in sports do you see fans practicing amateur voodoo?!

Another example was when the New York Post dubbed former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani a “TRAITOR!” on the cover of their newspaper after he admitted he was pulling for the Red Sox back in the 2007 World Series.

rudysox533Giuliani’s reasoning was innocent enough. He simply said “I’m an American League fan, therefore I’m pulling for the American League.” The New York Post wasn’t having it. When it comes to Red Sox-Yankees, most fans would rather root for Satan than their rival. Moral of the story: be careful what you say, it just may spark a fight or, as in Giuliani’s case, end up on the front cover of the newspaper.

It does not matter if you are a fan of the Yankees or a fan of the Red Sox, if you are a sports fan, you understand this rivalry. If you are a Yankees fan, you hate the Red Sox. If you are a Red Sox fan, you hate the Yankees. There is no in-between and there is no gray area. “Hate” is defined as extreme dislike or antipathy. As a fan of the 2013 World Series champion Boston Red Sox, it’s fair to say that definition sums it up quite nicely.

I “hate” the New York Yankees. The rivalry requires it.

These are my opinions. If you do not like them, I do not care; they are my opinions and not yours.

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