The notion that Red Sox fans and Yankee fans should be incompatible and want to fight the second they see each other is insane.
Red Sox and Yankee fans should get along... on first sight!
Let me explain myself.
1. Which ever team you root for is not a reflection of your character
You aren't a good or bad person if you are a Yankee fan. You are a Yankee fan probably because you were born somewhere between Trenton NJ and New Haven CT... or live in Upstate New York or Long Island. Being a Red Sox fan doesn't mean you are superior or inferior. It probably means you spent a big part of your life in New England, but not along the Metro North New Haven line.
Geography does not equal character.
2. Our fan bases are startingly similar
Neither side wants to hear this... Red Sox fans are bristling saying "I'm no wicked obnoxious Yankee fan who has been spoiled for decades and tormented our fah-thas!"
Yankee fans are thinking "You calling me a drunk, classless, obnoxious in defeat and unbearable in victory, parading his 2 World Series rings like they are 26 Red Sox fan? Fuhgeddaboutit!"
Ahhh but trust your pal Sully on this one.
I grew up in the suburbs of Boston but lived amongst Yankee fans during the 1990s and 2000s.
I saw that both fan bases think about their team year round. Both fan bases concoct outlandish trades, pick apart the farm system and the smallest details while calling up talk shows at 3 AM.
Both fan bases will boo the third base coach and embrace hard working players (like the Yankees with Luis Sojo and the Red Sox with Rich Garces.)
Both fan bases live and die with the team and basically play 162 seasons. Heroes are booed the next day. Villains get standing ovations if they come through.
It's a collective passion that is so common between the two fan bases that it should be seen as common ground.
3. That passion is not as common as you would think
In addition to living in Massachusetts and New York, I've lived in California where the same passion for baseball just isn't there.
Now before I start getting angry e mails from various California baseball fans (I'm looking at YOU Don Marquez) let me qualify it by saying of course there are individual fans who love their team with equal intensity.
And of course there are years where the passion hits a fever pitch. But for God's sake, not every A's game is broadcast! Can you imagine if the Red Sox or Yankees just announced "Nope... no TV today"? Could they even pull that off for a spring training game?
And the Diamondbacks couldn't even sell out an NLCS game! Folks, it MEANS more to us!
When you see how less intense the scrutiny is, how less urgent the season is and compare it to our teams... you realize how similar the two fan bases are.
4. Our Rivalry Is Better Than Anyone Elses In Baseball
Don't give me Cardinals/Cubs or Dodgers/Giants. Ours is better... but I covered that already.
The generational aspect of it is better with the Sox and Yankees as well.
In the 30s the Red Sox had Jimmy Foxx and Lefty Grove, the Yankees had Ruth and Gehrig. In the 40s and 50s the Red Sox had Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr while the Yankees had DiMaggio, Berra and Ford. The 60s had the Red Sox Impossible Dream and Yaz while the Yankees had the M&M Boys. The 70s had Rice, Lynn, Fisk, Tiant and the Spaceman while the Yankees had Munson, Nettles, Reggie, Guidry... and oh yeah Bucky Dent. The 80s brought about Boggs and Clemens for Boston and Mattingly and Winfield in the Bronx. The 1990s had the rise of Pedro, Mo Vaughn and Nomar while the Yankees countered and won with Jeter, Rivera, Bernie and all of Torre's men.
Now of course I can hear the Yankee fan saying "None of those Red Sox got any rings!" And they would be right. The Yankees won the rings in the 20th Century.
But now Manny, Papi, Schilling, Youkiliis et al are getting fitted for multiple rings while A-Rod, Matsui, Mussina, Giambi, Wang, Cano and the new breed are looking for their first.
It's a new century and the rivalry is getting even better.
5. The Fair Weather Fans
Being a Red Sox fan or a Yankees fan now is kind of like being a Steelers or a Cowboys fan in the 1970s, a Celtics or Lakers fan in the 1980s or a Bulls fan in the 1990s.
Now fans are everywhere… and they don’t look like the die hards who were showing up to games in the early 1990s when both the Red Sox and the Yankees stunk.
I don’t remember cute girls in pink Red Sox hats or hotties in cut off Alvaro Espinoza jerseys the way they do for Jeter now.
For the die hard fans I guess it is fine to have a crowded bandwagon… fair weather fans seldom latch onto losing teams… but there is a frustration when someone celebrates without investing the emotion of following a team through the good times.
When I see someone rooting hard for the Yankees, I ask them if they can identify Hensley Bam Bam Meulens or Kevin Maas. If they say “Yes” then I should have a friend.
Likewise, ask a Red Sox fan if they remember Carlos Quintana… or Jody Reed… or Scott Cooper. Then you know you are talking to a fan.
Die hard fans should be pals.
6. EVERYONE hates us
As Claus Von Bulow said... "That's a start."
I had an interesting experience at the Dodger game the other day. I was chatting nicely with a fan about the Dodgers and the 1981 World Series. I said “I’m not actually a Dodger fan, but I remember World Series games well.”
He asked “What’s your team?” I said “I’m a Boston fan.”
And he threw three peanuts at me and said “I hate you guys.”
Get used to it Red Sox fans… we’re the bad guys. If it wasn’t brought home clearly enough last October, then it is crystal clear now.
Red Sox fans might hate the Yankees Yankee fans might hate the Red Sox.
But the rest of the baseball world sees them as exactly the same. The bad guys.
Neither one of us have a friend or ally out there now. There’s no “If my team is out, I’m rooting for the Red Sox.” Or “They aren’t my team, but I’d like to see the Yankees win it this year.”
We’re both the big bloated Jabba the Hutts that are easy to root against.
I was watching the Houston TV Feed of a Red Sox/Astros game the other week. The poll question was “Which Boston fan base is the most obnoxious? Red Sox, Celtics or Patriots.”
They hate us.
And they’ve always hated the Yankees! Look at the baseball movies over the years… how many of them have the Yankees as the bad guys? Bad News Bears, Major League… DAMN YANKEES!
And this year with the Rays playing David to a double headed Red Sox/Yankees Goliath, don’t expect ANY fan base’s sympathy.
I started hearing at Dodger Stadium what I believe will be a familiar refrain:
“I just want to see the Rays beat the Red Sox and Yankees.”
It’s to the point where the only friendly face a Yankee fan could find in a crowd is a Red Sox fan.
7. Know that while they hate us both... the NEED us both
You hear a lot of non Northeasterners saying "I'm sick of the Red Sox and Yankees" and "I just want to see someone else win it besides them."
Well guess what? In 2005 and 2006 neither the Red Sox nor the Yankees were in the ALCS. And the TV ratings were lower than a public access showing of a city council meeting. Other fan bases NEED our teams to be the bad guys. Who was the national villain in the White Sox/Astros series? The Cardinals/Tigers series?
Imagine if the Cubs make the World Series... with a chance to win their first title in 100 years... and the Red Sox or Yankees are in the way.
You think people would rather they face the Angels? Or the Twins? Or the Rays? PLEASE! You could put a Red Sox - Cubs or Yankees - Cubs World Series on Pay Per View.
Sox and Yankee fans should embrace on the common ground that we are both the bad guys.
8. We've Both Been Burned By Roger Clemens
Seriously... he'll have to wear a Blue Jays Cap on his Hall of Fame plaque!
9. It's baseball folks! It's not life or death!
And this is coming from a guy who lives and breathes baseball. I've cried when my team has lost AND when they've won.
And I had a Red Sox game playing DURING my wedding.
But folks, this should be FUN! It's a game! We're arguing and fighting about millionaires who we will never get to know playing a game.
We have no control over the outcome of the game, no matter where we sit or how we wear our caps. And if our team wins or loses it doesn't really tip the balance of our quality of life.
I'm not saying it has to be a love in... and I think that when the Red Sox and Yankees are playing each other, fans of the team should remain as far away from each other as possible.
Tempers can be short.
But at a bar, at a non Sox/Yankees game, hanging out with friends... the ribbing and rhetoric should be fun. Less of a brawl about to ensue and more like a Dean Martin Roast.
Mean, with sincere venom... but funny and able to laugh it off. Watch Rickles take on Reagan here... see how Reagan is laughing? That's what a Red Sox/Yankee argument should feel like!
So let's try it! Come on, there's no anguish for either fan bases anymore!
Both have won at least one title this decade (I can't remember which team has won 2.) Both have had recent incredible generation defining October memories.
Let's have a new era in the rivalry... One that is still filled with competitiveness and dislike for the other team... but not be about hating the other fan!
I know it will be odd at first. A Yankee fan and a Red Sox fan reaching out to become friends BECAUSE of their favorite team might be a less likely friendship than Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett Jr in Enemy Mine.
Heck, I've befriended a bunch of Yankee fans on the Newsday Yankee Board and a bunch of them have said "Sully, you are a good Red Sox fan."
As if I am Gizmo in Gremlins, as opposed to Stripe and the rest of the killer Mogwai.
There are great Red Sox fans and great Yankee fans. And there are a-hole Red Sox and Yankee fans too.... but chances are they would be a--holes no matter what team they root for.
And we have a common enemy... the Rays. (Seriously how can the Red Sox and Yankees compete in a division with Tampa! It's NOT FAIR!)
So for one half of a season, let's have the riding each other be good natured, let's not throw crap at each other and if you are a Red Sox fan who sees a guy in a Yankee hat or vice versa, say "Hello friend!"