Bobby V Should Revive Stale Rivalry

Bobby V Should Revive Stale Rivalry

Bobby V Should Revive Stale Rivalry

The Red Sox and Yankees have been called the “best rivalry in sports,” but it hasn’t been that way in a long time. As a matter of fact, it’s gone from the “best rivalry” to the most “boring” or “corporate” rivalry in sports. That all changed late last night when John Henry, Larry Lucchino, and Ben Cherington hired Bobby Valentine to take over Boston’s managerial reigns.

It wasn’t that long ago that Lucchino called the Yankees the “evil empire,” a moniker that has stuck ever since. It was a rivalry that saw Pedro Martinez throw Don Zimmer to the ground, and send a couple of Yankees to the hospital for x-rays. Remember when Karim Garcia and Jeff Nelson got into it with a Fenway groundskeeper? And who can forget “who’s your daddy” chants from the Yankee Stadium faithful.

The last few years all that has changed. The Sox appear to have vanquished their hatred of the Yankees after being on the right end of the 2004 ALCS collapse, and winning a second World Series in 2007. Maybe it’s because both teams haven’t faced each other in the postseason since ’04. Maybe it’s because when one team has peaked, the other has floundered. Joe Torre and Terry Francona are more laid back personalities so once the “spit and vinegar” players went away, so did the contention in the rivalry. It appeared we were headed for another great 7-game ALCS showdown this year before beer and chicken got in the way.

The best rivalries are the ones in which the players and fans hate the opposition. Extreme passion by the players, front office, managers, and fans is why two opponents become rivals. I think the Red Sox and Yankees want to beat each other, but I’m not sure a 3-game series between the two teams is any different than when another contender like Texas, Los Angeles, or Tampa comes to town. The fans have taken the cue and appear to sit more on their hands during these contests than anything. Perhaps new stadiums and corporate dollars can be blamed, but I think part of it is everyone’s bored with it. MLB and the networks shoved this rivalry down our throat ad nauseam; saturation of anything leads to disenchantment or apathy.  

That’s all changes when Bobby Valentine’s Red Sox take the field against the Yankees next season. He will respect the Yanks, but inevitably something will happen that will cause him to speak his mind. It will start a press war that will rankle Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman, or maybe even Hal Steinbrenner.  Remember, if you don’t kiss the ring and genuflect towards the 27 championship trophies the Yankees get their feelings hurt. Remember when Texas owner Chuck Greenberg was critical of the Yankees and their fans? He was forced to apologize even though he really wasn’t totally off base .

I subscribe more to the Jeff Van Gundy belief that you respect your opponent so much that you disrespect them.  There will be no glad-handing the Yankees anymore. He should remember how the fear of Atlanta and the Yankees held his Mets teams back. There shouldn’t be any fear with the Red Sox. They are just as good as the Yankees on the field, maybe better in many facets, and now they are supremely better in the dugout.

Joe Girardi gets platitudes for winning 78 games with the Marlins in 2006, but what team has he managed that’s overachieved? That Marlins team had young talent; we just didn’t realize that at the time. The National League also wasn’t all that strong during that period. Actually, he did what was expected in 2009 when winning a title with the Yankees, and has underachieved in every other season during his tenure. Of course, that’s because of the obtuse “win the World Series or it’s a failure” credo that ownership and fans champion as good business, even though it’s unfair and unrealistic. I didn’t set the standard, they did. Look at Valentine’s Mets rosters from 1997-2001. Let’s see Girardi win 97 games with a rotation that features Al Leiter and a bunch of #3 and #4 starters. Let’s see Girardi go to the World Series with a lineup that had Mike Piazza and Edgardo Alfonzo with a bunch of role players. Let’s see him win anything with a regular closer and not the freak of nature that has taken the mound the last 15 years.

Maybe Valentine will challenge Girardi to a test, which is something he did to the other big league managers when he was with the Mets. Maybe he takes a backhanded shot at Cashman, like he did to Bobby Cox once upon a time. Maybe he reminds us that the Yankees aren’t as good as everyone thinks. Whatever psychological edge he can employ through his use of words and the press will be on display. It’s great for the media, personally I am thrilled, but maybe it will get the juices up of those zombies that show up to Fenway and Yankee Stadium a combined 18 times a year.

Finally, you want to know why I can tell Valentine is the biggest acquisition the Sox could have made this offseason?  Check out various social media sites and see how Yankees fans routinely mocked his resume and credentials.  That, my friends, is the kind of disrespect I mentioned before. There seemed to be a bit of fear laced in it as well.

Maybe now I can watch a Yankees-Red Sox contest and the biggest news won’t be what stupid banter Joe Buck and Tim McCarver produced.

Bobby V and the Red Sox is a certainly a welcome change to a rivalry gone stale.

By Mike Silva
Friday, 2 Dec 2011


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