Remember when Jason Varitek mashed his catcher’s mitt into A-Rod’s too-cute-for-baseball face? Or when the weaselly Pedro Martinez slammed a then 72-year-old Don Zimmer into the Fenway turf? All this punctuated by the exclamation points of Aaron Boone’s home run in ’03 and the Red Sox 0-3 comeback in ’04.
Yankees-Red Sox hatred threatened to tear apart friendships and families in a post-9/11 world.
God I miss those days.
Since the mid-aughts, sport’s greatest rivalry has been in a limp state. The word flaccid comes to mind. Both teams haven’t been hot at the same time in years. The games have been placid and civil in the last decade, leaving Gandhi gleaming in his grave.
But this is baseball, not world politics. A Yankees-Sox game should make Gandhi reconsider civil disobedience from his resting place in the great beyond.
The Yanks/Sox rivalry has been so subdued as of late that I can safely wear my Yankees hat in Maine–a state formerly owned by Massachusetts, teeming with Sox fans–and not have a single insult hurled my way. At first I thought, Look, we’re all growing up. Then I realized that the lack of impudence is a bad sign.
A colleague saw me wearing my New York hat recently and commented, “I should be saying terrible things to you right now for wearing that hat, but it’s not like that anymore.”
Can we please get back to the discord?
My brother wore a Yankees jersey to a Yanks/Sox game at Fenway in ‘O3. In the stands, a ten year old looked at him and jeered, “Jeter sucks A-Rod! Jeter sucks A-Rod!” When my brother looked to the boy’s father to control the imp, his father shouted, “Yeah, that’s right!”
Last night’s game with it’s multiple bench-clearing skirmishes and monstrous home runs by both sides was so refreshing.
When Joe Kelly stared down a charging Tyler Austin and waved him on with two fingers, mouthing, “Come on,” I got goosebumps. And when the troglodytes in the stands erupted into a feverish “Yankees suck!” chant, I nearly wept with joy.
Let’s hope that Tyler Austin’s hard slide into second base last night heralded in the new age of Yankees-Sox hatred. Both teams are young, talented, and brash. Of course, the theater of benches clearing and grown men driven to fisticuffs means nothing if both teams aren’t in contention for the top spot in the American League East.
This could be the year when talent and tempers collide for some of that old, blissful animosity between Yankees and Red Sox fans. I’ll know it’s happening when I’m wearing my Yankees hat in public and I hear, “Nice hat, asshole.” Oh, how my heart will leap, as I lovingly reply, “Get fucked.”