Its a good thing baseball dont know how to fight otherwise both teams would have no players left

It's a good thing baseball players don't know how to fight otherwise both teams would have no players left

Friday night at about 11:30 p.m. I was on my way home from my job in Manhattan. All along the way I could see fans in Red Sox and Yankees gear, but neither side was really looking overly happy.  I was a little confused by this, I mean it was Yankees-Red Sox in the Bronx in the middle of a crucial four-game set and yet, it looked like the game had to be over. There were about 100 fans from the game on the 4 train with me at the 161st Street/Yankee stadium stop.  Then I took a look behind me to peek into the new Yankee Stadium, and saw a still packed house and the game still going on.  I go to the Yankee fan sitting next to me and ask “Hey buddy, the game still going?” He replied, “Yeah, 0-0 in the 13th, where the (expletive) have you been?” At this point, I thought I was having an aneurysm on the train, my heart starting beating faster and I actually got up and started pacing around the train like a madman.

I turned my phone on to get score updates and I was immediately bombarded with texts about the game, many of which came from a Red Sox friend via Twitter (gotta love technology!). I got home at about 12:10 a.m. and immediately turned the TV on and proceeded to go into war mode, yelling orders at the TV, delusionally thinking the players would hear me.  Finally, at 12:35 a.m, Alex Rodriguez hit the game-winning two-run home run and I went into a frenzy.  But when I think about it, if it was any team other than Boston, I don’t know if it would have mattered half as much, and I don’t think I’m the only Yankee partisan who looks at it the same way.

For whatever reason, Yankees-Red Sox has the ability to transcend the ballparks the teams play in.  The rivalry has built and destroyed relationships, led to numerous fights on the field, in the stands, and on the trains to and from the parks, and has even been a cause for murder, yes, I said murder.  But why is it like this? Why the insanity, the fanfare, the hate, joy, heartbreak?  It’s because to New Yorkers and Beantown natives these teams are everything, and there’s good evidence to support that claim.  

In 2001, after the 9/11 tragedy, the Yankees found themselves in their 4th consecutive World Series, and the City of New York was caught up in Yankee fever in a time of despair.  I was fortunate enough to be at Game 4 of the Series and to this day can only remember the raw emotion as Ronan Tynan sang “God Bless America” and the tears that followed it, just as they did after Game 3 the previous night.  I also remember the solace turning into absolute pandemonium when Tino Martinez tied the game with a two-run home run and again when Derek Jeter hit the game winning homer in the 10th, which gave him the “Mr. November” moniker. It was at that moment that I realized that I was witnessing something much larger than a game. This was important. The Yankees are as big a part of New York as the Empire State Building or Times Square.  It was THAT big.

Just 3 years later, I was witness to something that most people previously thought was impossible.  Facing a 3-0 deficit to my Yankees in the 2004 ALCS, the Boston Red Sox mounted the greatest comeback in playoff history, winning four straight to stun the baseball world en route to the Sox first World Series win in 86 years.  Much like New York in ’01, Boston in ’04 was a city united by its baseball team, as it always has been.  I would go on to meet Red Sox fans who, when asked about how winning that first title felt, would still break down into tears…two years after it happened. Red Sox fans’ passion for their team is unmatched by any other fanbase in the league.  Baseball is a New Englander’s religion, and they are taught early and often that the Sox are their team, the people’s team.  Much like I said about the ’01 Series for Yankees fans, the ’04 Series for Sox fans was THAT big, maybe even bigger.

So when you look at it that way, it’s simple to see what makes this rivalry exactly what it is. Two groups of people brought up to be passionate about two opposing sides that meet so regularly in important games.  The results of the games breed the contempt that the two groups have for each other in the heat of battle and beyond.  Winning isn’t a want, it’s a need for the fans, and that desire to win the games translates directly into the moments on the field, which were just added to by another classic moment early Saturday morning. Fans can only hope for more of the same in the next 2 months as these teams seem destined to meet each other again in make-or-break games for both teams.

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