By Stefanie Gordon (@Stefmara)
The rivalry between the Yankees and the Red Sox (or the Red Sox and the Yankees depending on who your team is) has been in existence for over 100 years. You've heard the story: before Babe Ruth was traded from the Sox to the Yankees, the Sox were the better team. In fact, before the trade the Yankees had never won a championship. After the trade, well....you know...the Yankees won a few and the Sox had The Curse of the Bambino and went championshipless for 84 years.
Forget the Canadiens/Maple Leafs. Cubs/Cards, you have to be kidding me. Giants/Cowboys, what a joke. Ask almost anyone and they will say the best, most heated rivalry in sports is between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. During a regular season the two teams meet 19 times, and, as a fan, every game you're on the edge of your seat. You know that at any moment of any game something can change and your team can take the lead, especially when the game is being played at Fenway. There's joy, there's heartbreak, there's near heart attacks, and of course, there's marathon games.
Then there's the other team's fans. From a young age fans are taught about the history of the rivalry. How it's ok to dislike the other team. That it's acceptable to ignore or talk trash to your friends who root for "the other team" for the series. Unfortunately, there are the fans that take their hatred of the other team too far. They're the fans that spoil it for the rest of us. The ones that can't take some light hearted jabbing. Or take it too personally. Those are the fans that take the fun out of this rivalry, any rivalry. Don't get me started on the people that jump on the bandwagon for the other team, just because they hate your team. That's not part of the rivalry. That's just being obnoxious (I'm looking at you, Mets fans).
I have a friend, Mike, who was born and raised in Rhode Island. He currently lives in Florida. Actually, we met at the University of South Florida just as the Yankees dynasty of the mid/late 90's was happening and the Sox were still...well...the Sox. They hadn't found their way yet. Of course one of our favorite activities was to give each other grief when our teams played. My father and grandfathers would even get in on bashing Mike when he would be invited over for holidays post-college and would be the only Sox fan in attendance. He took the ribbing. He even gave it back, but was always respectful, I think, only because he loved my mom's cooking.
The 1999 ALCS was when our rivalry started to get good. We would watch games together. Game 3 was exciting, it was the marquis matchup of Pedro vs. Clemens. A PITCHERS DUEL! Of course, if you're a fan, you remember that game was anything but a pitchers duel. The Sox won the game 13-1. Clemens was killed by the Fenway Faithful. Well, I'm not going to give the Sox too much praise, we all know how the rest of that series - and the postseason - ended.
Through the years Mike and I would put aside our friendship for the times the Yankees and Red Sox met. During the 2003 ALCS I remember calling him the day after Aaron Boone hit that monster shot into left field and I just said, "Good series." That game left me mentally exhausted. In 2004 I attended game 7 of the ALCS, but I'd rather not go into details. But at the end of the night Mike called and left me a message while I was on the subway. It went a little something like this: "Stef, It's Mike. I'm calling all my Yankee fan friends to tell them to suck it. That this is the Red Sox' time. But not you. You and I have a different kind of rivalry when it comes to our teams. So I'll just say, good series. I'm sorry your team choked and I love you." Ok, so he might have been a little drunk, but that's how our friendship is during the rivalry. My uncle, a Mets fan, left me a more obnoxious voice mail. Mets fans....sigh.
At the end of the day we are all fans. True fans love their team through thick and thin. Win or lose. And one thing is for sure, we will ALWAYS stand up for our team when someone tries to put them down.
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