Part of the fun of being a sports fan, especially when you're a fan of such a hated team, is the rivalries with other teams. As a Yankee fan, that usually means Yankees-Red Sox, and Yankees-Mets. The Yankees-Mets rivalry is completely destroyed for one obvious reason. The Mets fucking suck! They will soon be cemented at the basement of the NL East and who knows how long it will take them to get out. Thats not what this post is about though. I just wanted to bash the Mets in bold for fun.
No, this post is about the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. I'm writing this because Bobby Valentine seems to be taking every chance he gets to bash the Yankees and their fans. I don't care much about Valentine, but its got me thinking about the rivalry between the two teams. Or more so, the lack of the rivalry between the two teams. Because it seems like it's lost all of the fire it used to have.
These teams and their fans have hated each other since the Babe Ruth deal. They've had some truly epic battles and great moments. They've met in the ALCS three times and each of them had their share of great moments. From Aaron Boone to Bucky Dent to David Ortiz to Derek Jeter. But lately, especially the last two years, I've found myself just not really able to get as excited or energized for Yankees-Red Sox as I have in the past. I have a couple theories why...
1. They play each other 18 fucking times every year (everyone knows you can curse in bold)
This has been discussed, but I'll just talk about it again. Now, this was true even in 2003 and 2004 when the rivalry was at its height. But keep in mind, there are other factors. This is just a contributing one. It's also the biggest one. When roughly 1/8th of a 162 game season is against one team, it can get a little boring. ESPN and FOX try to hype these games up so much so often that it has the opposite effect. I lose interest. I still watch the games, get pumped up for a big moment, but thats because I'm a Yankee fan who watches almost every game of the entire season. But Yankees-Red Sox feels similar to Yankees-Blue Jays or Yankees-Orioles. These games used to feel special as a fan in a 162 game season. Now, they feel more like another game than anything else.
2. Red Sox Struggles
Face it (and this is a good thing, I would NOT change this just for a rivalry). The Red Sox aren't that good. They've missed the playoffs two seasons in a row, they have an inconsistent rotation and in many ways the Rays have surpassed them. Obviously, when one team in a rivalry is a 97 win team and the other misses out on the postseason, it could change interest in the rivalry. This is something I'd expect to fix itself though eventually, as early as 2012. The Sox aren't going to stay bad.
3. The Teams Have Changed
This inevitably happens with time. Teams change, personalities change. One of the things that made the rivalry so great was the fact that the teams hated each other so much. When the rivalry was at its height in 2003 and 2004, we had Don Zimmer attacking Pedro Martinez. Pedro throwing at Yankee hitters. Manny Ramirez being the world's biggest prick. Thats all but gone now. Honestly, this isn't something I'd want to change. The brawls and the hatred is intense and all, but I'd kind of rather the rivalry stick to competitive games against two great teams.
Two and three will change, and it's not something that people can change. It just happens. But the first one is, in my opinion, the biggest problem. Adding onto that, the placement of these games by baseball is ridiculous. The number of times the Yankees and Red Sox either start the season against each other or finish it, or both, is ridiculous. Often those are nearly meaningless games, just starting the season or at the end when everything is decided already. And then, 18 times a year is simply preposterous.
The last time I got really excited for Yankees-Red Sox was before that 4 game series in New York in 2009. By coincidence, they hadn't played each other since June, the AL East was a game apart, and the Yankees wanted revenge after an 0-8 start. Obviously we can't dictate the season, but baseball can dictate the schedule. And I think something like this may help.
Cut 18 games to 6-8 a season against each other. Not in April and the end of September either. Maybe time it as one 3-4 game set in Boston at the end of June-early July, and then one 3-4 game set in NY at the end of August-early September. Cutting 10-12 games and placing them both far apart from each other and at times where the race is likely to be close would, in my opinion help make them more premium games. It's much more easy to get excited for that than it is when they play each other every 3 weeks all year on average.
Obviously this wouldn't solve everything. Other things would fall into place, and that isn't something that can be controlled. It just happens. But this is the biggest problem with it, and it can be fixed. If Bud Selig can add a second freaking playoff team and make the All-Star game count to try and add "excitement", then I'm sure he's capable of changing the schedule to add excitement too.
But then again, "excitement" to Bud Selig is in the form of a thin, green hundred dollar bill. And if he needs to make a decision that could cost him some of those, then this has no chance of happening.