Bob Ryan, in an uneven, contradictory, ultimately confusing and poorly written column today, bemoans the state of the Sox-Yankee rivalry. In turn, he calls the rivalry "manufactured fan nonsense." To an extent, I can agree that such things as WEEI and the Internet have popularized the rivalry to such an extent that it is, as Ryan says, chic to say you hate the Yankees.
On the other hand, he also seems to be pining for the days when the teams themselves hated each other, and the fans fed off that hatred. That, he seems to say, was a real rivalry. Now, with the teams respecting each other, there’s no reason to hate the Yankees (or vice versa) — except for the fact that they’re the Yankees.
For the players, the rivalry is about the competition. For far too many Red Sox fans, it’s about some imagined grievance with both the Yankees and the city of New York. It’s chic to say you hate the Yankees, even if there really is nothing to hate. Really, what has Derek Jeter ever done besides not be Nomah? And now that Nomah is gone, perhaps not be Papi? I truly don’t know.
This doesn’t make any sense to me. Is a rivalry only good when the teams hate each other so much that seasons and careers are ruined thanks to the bench-clearing brawls? I thought rivalries were ALL about the fans — the passion and excitement involved with playing against a team on the same level as yours — a team that has been involved in your team’s greatest heartbreaks and your most triumphant victories.
And if the rivalry is only good when the teams fight each other, what about 2003 and 2004? Now that they are on better terms in 2007, are the fans supposed to pretend like this rivalry hasn’t existed arguably since 1901, when Boston and Baltimore were bitter rivals?
Anyway, as we edge closer to the resumption of the rivalry this evening, I’m curious: What do you think is the state of Sox-Yanks in 2007 — particularly as compared to the 1940s and 1970s?