Red Sox Yankees Rivalry Not What It Used To Be

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We’ve seen this all before. Baseball’s best division has produced such a hyper-competitive atmosphere that the Red Sox and Yankess, formerly the royal bullies of the entire American League, are now just another couple of teams. It comes a little surprise since the Orioles, who are starting to replicate some of their late-game heroics from 2012, and the Rays (who are technically the hottest team in baseball as they ride a six-game winning streak) are only one game behind the Sox and Yanks in the loss column. Therefore when the Red Sox visited Yankee Stadium for their second series against the Bronx Bombers on Friday, it makes sense that both teams would treat this as just a game, albeit an important game, but just a game.

Gone are the hate-filled days of the 2000s. Removed (for now) is the violence and rowdiness at Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park when two dedicated fan bases share the seats. There are a number of reasons for the mitigation of this rivalry, and perhaps the fact that we’ve just entered the third month of the season has a lot to do with it, yet regardless of the reasons, these games are far less intense than they used to be.

In May 2008, a Yankees fan in Nashua, New Hampshire was arrested and charged with reckless second-degree murder for killing two people outside a bar, which resulted from an argument over the rivalry.During the final series of the 2010 season, Boston Police arrested a Yankees fan for stabbing a Red Sox fan over an argument about the rivalry. These incidents occurred well away from the confines of baseball stadiums, because the main figures in the rivalry used to be so polarizing.

Of course we all remember Alex Rodriguez. The unanimous scumbag that even Yankee fans have found to beyond defensibility lately used to be a source of contention while he was producing. Although he was one of the best hitters of his generation, A-Rod was also at the center of a number of embarrassing bush league plays including the famous incident where he slapped the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove in the 2004 ALCS. At the time, Yankee fans had to defend A-Rod because he was an integral member of their roster, and Red Sox fans had to attack him because he was so obviously morally bankrupt. I mean, the guy played high-stakes poker with money collected from his charity.

The Red Sox used to have a polarizing figure or two of their own, including the bizarre, steroid-injected, dreadlocked slugger known as Manny Ramirez. Pedro Martinez was also notably boisterous and made no effort to disguise his intention to throw at certain hitters (see: Who is Karim Garcia?).

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Yet now, in the wake of tragedy’s at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the Boston Marathon, these two teams have found a way to bury the hatchet and watch baseball in (relatively) polite co-existence. You had Yankee Stadium broadcasting Sweet Caroline, both teams honoring the shootings at Sandy Hook on opening day, and even the latest turncoat in the rivalry- Kevin Youkilis- managed to change sides without becoming the target of unabashed hatred and ridicule (different situation, but recall how they treated Johnny Damon).

For now there is not much here but the mutual respect of two franchises who have managed (aside from last year’s Bobby Valentine debacle) to remain competitive for a decade. Red Sox fans appreciate the greatness of Mariano Rivera, while Yankees fans tip their cap to the talent of Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz. Maybe things will change if these two teams remain locked in a pennant race that is reminiscent of several years ago, but until they remain alone at the top, series against the Orioles and Rays will remain just as heated as the most storied rivalry in baseball history.

 

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About nweitzer7

Nate Weitzer is a die hard Celtics and Red Sox fan although he has little love for the New England Patriots. Currently a graduate student at Boston University looking to earn a Masters in Sports Journalism, Weitzer blogs weekly for Baseball Revival (See link below), covers high school sports for local start-up paper Boston Urban News, and writes on the Celtics for http://thenosebleeds.com/category/sports/celtics/

Posted on June 1, 2013, in 2013, Red Sox, Yankees and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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