Given the premise of this site, the assertion that a little bit of evil is a necessity of life, or at least sports, should come as no surprise. Sitting here with the Olympics on the tube, this is more clear than ever. Without the big bad Soviet Empire out there as competition, these Games just don’t have the same frisson of excitement. Yes, the Olympics are about idealism, and yes it is “ideal” to see the world’s best athletes giving it their all in one grand competition, and yes, we know that’s all we really should need. But somehow it’s not enough. Because we’re human, and as beautiful as it may be to watch some wonderjock land a backside 540 or a triple salchow, without the tension of a nemesis, well, the whole thing lacks drama.
The truism holds when it comes to our national pastime. Yes, it’s a joy to watch the precision of Mariano Rivera as he mows down the bottom third of the Royal lineup. But what makes the sport exciting is the prospect of his doing the same to the top of the Boston order. Deciding exactly what player or team is “evil” is, of course, a matter of choice or perspective. But we all need our chosen enemies. The Red Sox need their Yankees. The Yankees need their Red Sox. Bring ’em on.