I can’t think of a better way to kick off the Sox-Yankees rivalry, 2007 edition. (The only bad thing about this game was the home plate umpire, who was inconsistent with his strike zone, frustrating both teams.) Out of the three games the Sox and Yankees will play this weekend, this was the one I was most looking forward to: Andy Pettitte versus Curt Schilling. And it delivered. So Manny Ramirez still hasn’t found his swing. And so A-Rod is “on pace” (ha!) to hit 129 homers this season. And LOOGY Mike Myers still can’t get David Ortiz out. And Schilling didn’t find a rhythm until the last two innings of work. It was a great game; Yankees up 2-0, Sox tie 2-2 (on a timely Varitek homer), Yankees pull ahead 5-2 (the second Rodriguez dinger) and then bring it up to 6-2, and finally, Sox surge ahead for the first time in the 8th, with little Alex Cora getting the go-ahead run in the second time in as many days (final score 7-6 Sox). Not bad for Dustin Pedroia’s backup.
A great game. A thrilling rivalry. And yet, some would argue it has jumped the shark (much like the phrase “jump the shark”).
Bob Ryan, a Boston Globe columnist, wrote this morning that he’s not that keen on the Sox-Yanks rivalry. Bob Ryan is an odd duck; his sentimental idealism somehow manifests itself as disdain for the fans. No one, Bob Ryan seems to think, is as much of a purist as he is. This time around, his gist is that the players on both teams like each other. It’s “just” the fans that don’t get along. And apparently, a rivalry that comes from the fans is mere media hype. But what’s wrong with a little populism? Sure, maybe back in 1938 the players didn’t like each other. But today, when so many of them consider switching teams just business, it’s no wonder they (mostly) get along. (In fact, Bob Ryan has gone on the record supporting this just-business crap too.) That the fans see things differently doesn’t mean the fans are wrong, or that we’ve been led astray by revenue-hungry media-savvy marketers. If a sports rivalry is based on the players hating each other, a la D-Rays and Red Sox (who’ve been getting into scrums since a beanball incident in 2000), I fail to see how that gives it any more legitimacy than a fan-driven rivalry. But I don’t know. I probably would’ve voted for William Jennings Bryan too.
And so we meet again tomorrow, at 3:55 in the Fens. Shall I bring my dueling pistols…or my sword?