Has the Boston Red Sox rivalry with the New York Yankees lost its luster? It seems like 10 years ago, I hated Yankees fans a lot more than I do today. Likewise, I haven’t heard nearly as many annoying Yankees fans reminding me of their 27 rings, and all of the history — the historic accomplishments that they weren’t alive for. So, what has happened to this rivalry, and what can be done to bring it back?
There’s a lot of factors that have caused the decline of the good old-fashioned hate between the AL East rivals. 10 years ago, George Steinbrenner was alive and in a pissing match with the new Boston ownership. The Red Sox had just been purchased by John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino, the latter of which famously called the Bronx Bombers the “Evil Empire.”
Well, George isn’t around anymore and Lucchino and co. have become much more concerned with selling the brand of Red Sox baseball and making Fenway Park more fan-friendly.
This was their first big mistake. Fenway Park shouldn’t be a friendly place. It should be a place where opposing fans get heckled relentlessly for having the audacity to cheer for the Yankees. Instead Fenway has turned into a place where soccer Moms bring their kids to sing “Sweet Caroline” during the eighth inning.
Another major factor is the loss of star players for both teams. 10 years ago, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz and Pedro Martinez were amongst the best players in MLB.
The Yankees sported an even more star-studded lineup, complete with players who had made a career out of breaking the hearts of Red Sox Nation. How many times did Paul O’Neil, Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada seem to come through in clutch situations against the Red Sox? How much did you detest Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Roger Clemens, Mariano Rivera and the rest of the highest paid players in the game?
Lastly, there’s no hate amongst the players anymore. How much can Daniel Nava despise Brett Gardner? What history does Travis Hafner have with Felix Doubront? A decade ago, we had Jason Varitek going at it with A-Rod, P. Martinez throwing Don Zimmer and threatening to bean Babe Ruth in the head, and Karim Garcia getting into an altercation with a Fenway groundskeeper.
The hate just isn’t there anymore. The Red Sox have been too bad the past three seasons, and Yankees haven’t made noise in the playoffs since 2009 when they won their 27th ring. This season the Red Sox have a much better team, but only Ortiz remains from those fabled years.
The Yankees are a relic of their former selves and throw out names that you don’t recognize or never thought you would see in a Yankee uniform. In order for this series to get revived, the Yankees need to get better, and the Red Sox have to remember how to hate them.