This opening series between the Yankees and Red Sox is arguably the most hyped battle between these epic rivals in recent memory.
An injection of promising new blood for both clubs has fans hopeful that the rivalry is back, despite the absence of David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez, both of whom were famously hated by opposing fanbases.
It’s true, the Yanks and Red Sox have the young talent and money to be perennial contenders in the coming years, and it would be fantastic to see them go at it like they did back in 2003 (the following year does not exist). Rivalries are obviously at their peak when both teams are a legitimate threat to each other, which has been the case for most of the 21st century.
However, we need to remember what made up that unforgettable rivalry, and it will take an awful lot to have the stars align and produce something like that again.
There was more to the old Yanks/Sox battles that made every game must-see TV, even for casual fans. Aside from both teams being trendy World Series picks, they each had loud personalities that hyped the rivalry and brought blood to a boil. There were also countless storylines like the Alex Rodriguez trade and the battle for Jose Contreras that spread the rivalry from the stands to the front offices. Guys like Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens (even role players like Karim Garcia) kept the rivalry cooking on the field as well. It was everywhere.
Personalities may emerge as time goes on and these new groups play each other a few times. For now, both teams are heavy in youth and are more focused on putting their teams into contention than hating each other. For now, the fans can take care of that part.
There is also the fact that this is not a top-heavy division anymore. The Yanks and Red Sox constantly beat up on each other back in the 2003 days, and didn’t necessarily need to gear up for other heated battles within their division. The question was always whether it would be New York or Boston to take the division. There are other threats now.
Look at this past weekend as an example. The Red Sox and Orioles have been having heated matchups ever since the O’s climbed back to relevancy in recent years. This weekend their new rivalry reached new heights with the incident involving Manny Machado and Dustin Pedroia. The O’s are currently in first place and very much a force in the division. The Yankees and Red Sox have both had tough bouts with the Blue Jays in recent years as well, who should rebound despite a tough start to this season.
I’m not saying to dilute your excitement about a rivalry that has more history and memories than any other in sports. I just wouldn’t expect to see a replica of what it was 15 years ago. That doesn’t mean it can’t be entertaining.
The old rivalry had so much lure because of more than just talented rosters. A lot of other aspects went right to make that happen. Certain aspects that can never be replicated again, or at least not for a long time. It is hard for fans to hate players on these teams because of how young they are. What is there to base the hatred on besides the logo on the uniform? Perhaps after constant Aaron Judge lasers off the Green Monster, Red Sox fans will hate him immensely. We’ll have to wait on that.
Maybe an incident occurs in a future series that sparks another fire. For now, let’s just enjoy both teams being competitive again and rejuvenating an awesome rivalry. It will definitely be special, just maybe not the same.