New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox: Is the Rivalry Dead?

August 9, 2010   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

There have been some great sports rivalries during the last 100 years.

Celtics-Lakers. Ali-Frazier. Agassi-Sampras.

But can those rivalries compare to what the Red Sox and Yankees have had over the last decade?

Sometimes it seemed like 75 percent of Sox-Yankees games were nationally televised. And if you were a baseball fan, you watched.

The atmosphere was unmistakable—no other games had the buzz that came with the Sox-Yankees. 

I went to Boston over five years ago and, realizing the Yankees were in town, I decided to see it for myself. 

Somehow I bought a ticket at face value—a true miracle—only to find myself squeezed between a pair of burly Sox fans.

“Hey kid, why aren’t you wearing a Red Sox shirt?” one asked me.


My explanation that I was just a lost Marlins fan was met with smiles, but in my gut I knew a Yankees fan would have suffered a much worse fate.

All that is over now.

Blame the Tampa Bay Rays. Oh, and those pesky Blue Jays.

Definitely don’t blame the Baltimore Orioles. I’m pretty sure they had nothing to do with this. 

This used to be a one-team division. The Yankees won it. Simple as that. The only spice in the division came from their long-rooted hatred of the Red Sox.

Then when the Sox became good in 1999, man, this rivalry hit a Fever Pitch.

From 1999 to 2004, the Sox and Yankees met three times in the ALCS.

In 1999, the Yanks easily triumphed four games to one, then swept the World Series from the Braves.

In 2003, the Sox had a little more fight in them. 

Who can forget an aging Don Zimmer looking half-dead after Pedro Martinez flipped him onto the ground?

When your old, out-of-shape bench coach charges the mound, who can say that’s not the best rivalry in sports?

The ALCS was tied at three games a piece that year when Pedro Martinez took the mound for the Sox in Game Seven. Staked to a 5-2 lead in the eighth inning, manager Grady Little chose to leave Martinez in, despite his obvious fatigue.

Bad decision.

The Yankees tied the game, then won in extra innings on Aaron Boone’s epic home run that seemed to fit just right in this rivalry.

For anyone who had doubted this rivalry while the Yankees had dominated the league for the previous 25 years, it was in full stride going into the 2004 season.

Less than a year after the Martinez-Zimmer brawl, Alex Rodriguez found himself exchanging punches with Sox catcher Jason Varitek in late July.

For the seventh straight season, the Sox finished second to the Yankees in the AL East.

In the ALCS in 2004, the Yanks stormed out to a 3-0 series lead. If MLB history had a say, the Sox were essentially eliminated.  Then in game four Mariano Rivera blew a save. The Sox had their first win. Game Five was decided in the 14th inning. The Sox had their second win. Game Six. Schilling’s bloody sock. Enough said.

In Game Seven, the Red Sox blew out the Yankees, then went on to win their first World Series in 86 years.

After that, the rivalry certainly didn’t die, but it did die down.

In 2005, the Sox and Yankees were both eliminated in ALDS matchups. In 2006, the Sox failed to make the playoffs, finishing third behind the Blue Jays.

In 2007, the Red Sox upset the balance of power. For the first time in nine years, a team other than the Yankees won the division. The Sox then won the World Series for the second time in four seasons.

In 2008, the Sox won the division again. For the first time since 1993, the Yankees failed to make the playoffs. That may not have bothered the Yankees too much, considering that they would win the World Series the following year in 2009.

But does that really sound like a rivalry?

In the early part of this decade, when these teams were good at the same time, every game seemed to go down to the ninth inning. Every game meant something. That’s how a rivalry between great competitors should work.

Where once the two teams drove each other to be better, now they seem content to accept when the other is better. This year seems to be the Yankees turn again.

The emergence of the Rays has changed everything in this division.

From 2003 to 2007, the weakness of the Rays and Blue Jays almost guaranteed a Wild Card spot to either the Yankees or Red Sox, with 2006 being the only exception.

You know what else occurred from 2003 to 2007? The height of this rivalry.

When two teams, who are undeniably the division’s best, play 18 games a year, of course those will be the most hyped games.

Throw a third team in the mix, and things get less interesting.

But now the Yankees and Red Sox can no longer count on beating the former cellar-dwellers several times a year.

The Rays are 2 1/2 games behind the division-leading Yankees, and 4 1/2 games ahead of third-place Boston.

Not only does Boston have to worry about catching the Rays and Yankees, but the Blue Jays are also tight on their heels at only 3 1/2 games behind.

The Sox-Yankees rivalry was incredible for baseball. It kept people interested, it helped them forgive the ‘Steroid Era.’

But now, that rivalry seems like it is on life support.

Don’t worry though. If history tells us anything, this rivalry will heat up again some time soon.

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