Growing up, you knew what the big rivalry was in baseball. You knew very well that whenever the Red Sox and the Yankees played each other, it was important. It was important for two reasons, one because these were the two best teams in baseball, and whoever won usually won the American League. Two, because they absolutely hated each other, and something memorable and sometimes violent was going to happen.
2003 through 2004 was the golden era for this rivalry. Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS, Pedro Martinez (he still calls the Yankees his daddy) drills Yankee batter Karim Garcia. Then the next inning, Roger Clemens (we miss him so much) sends a fastball right above the head of Manny Ramirez, and that sets it off. Both benches clear, and Pedro tries to show his manliness by pushing 72-year-old Don Zimmer to the ground.
The next year, this time in the regular season, again at Fenway. Newest Yankee Alex Rodriguez gets drilled by Bronson Arroyo, then gets into it with Sox catcher Jason Varitek, another fight ensues.
14 years have passed since then, and to be honest, the rivalry has been desperately lacking some spice and hatred. I believe the hostility grew in the off-season, when New York signed slugger Giancarlo Stanton. It brought back memories of the 04 signing of A-Rod, when the Yankees stole him from Boston, though Stanton was never interested in going to the Red Sox (shocking right?).
Since those days at the turn of the century, and back into the 1970’s, the rivalry is different. The two teams haven’t met in the postseason since, the new Yankee stadium is half full, even when Boston is in town. You don’t have the Yankee fans chanting “WHO’S YOUR DADDY” at Pedro. The players have a ho-hum attitude towards each other, there’s just no hatred, its almost as if they like each other.
Then, on Tuesday in Fenway, like a phoenix arose from the ashes, something glorious and unbelievable happened. In the third inning the benches cleared briefly, when Tyler Austin’s cleats clipped Brock Holt’s leg on a slide into second base.
Fast forward to the seventh inning. Red Sox relief pitcher Joe Kelly hit Austin in the side. This resulted in Austin slamming his bat to the ground with a force that I believe only comes from years of built up Yankee frustration with the Red Sox. Austin charged the mound, Kelly not backing down, and the teams went at it.
Let me say this: I’m not the kind of fan who loves to see fights in sports, at least not all the time. To be frank, I love it when my teams get into fights. When the Heat and Pacers were getting chippy in the playoffs a few years back, it got me fired up.
When it comes to the Red Sox and the Yankees, I love the hatred, they call it a rivalry for a reason. I’m a journalist (not a very good one) so technically I’m not supposed to be a fan, but screw that, I hate the Boston Red Sox. To me this is the best rivalry in all of sports. It has been a long time coming, but I sure hope, and I believe all of America is rooting for this rivalry to be back. Sports are better, baseball is better, life is better when the Red Sox and Yankees hate each other.