Originally written on Mike Silva's New York Baseball Digest  |  Last updated 11/18/14

When it was announced that Bobby Valentine would be the new manager of the Red Sox, I wrote how this would “spice up” the rivalry with the Yankees. Although we saw some of that in action this week with the comments Valentine made about Derek Jeter (’01 flip) and Alex Rodriguez (Varitek brawl), don’t be fooled into thinking this will ever return to the cold war days of 2003-2004.

Let’s face it; the explosion of media has saturated what once was a compelling rivalry. The two teams play 18 times a season, with a good chunk of games on FOX and ESPN. The networks make it out to be the next world war, but most times it was just another regular season game, albeit ones with a bit more importance because of the two-game swing in the standings. The internet gives fans 24/7/365 access to trash talk. Add in the fact that it’s been over 7 years since the two teams met in the playoffs, and you really haven’t had the opportunity to fully get the juices going. The games are almost anticlimactic and could never live up to the billing.

Another factor is many of the players from that era are no longer part of the rivalry. Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, Derek Lowe, Johnny Damon and Curt Schilling are long gone from the Boston side. The Yankees Core Four is down to a Core Two, Joe Torre is vacationing in Hawaii somewhere, and Aaron Boone works for ESPN. You also don’t have the same colorful Boston personalities that irked the Yanks and created the “idiot” moniker in Beantown.

If that doesn’t convince you, just look at the reaction by everyone except Valentine. Derek Jeter repeatedly asked reporters why they were talking about a play that happened in 2001. Yankees beat reporter for Newsday, Erik Boland, told me on my Wednesday radio program that Joe Girardi was “confounded” by Valentine’s comments. Even Terry Francona, who was in Tampa this week as a member of the media, dismissed the situation. Francona agreed the rivalry won’t ever get it to the height that it was from ’03-’04. He’s right, the perfect storm of 14 ALCS games coupled with the “curse” makes it impossible to duplicate.

Does that mean there is no value to Yankees-Red Sox? Boland wouldn’t go that far. “Being in the ballpark for almost all of them (games) the last few years…I haven’t noticed a drop-off in intensity from a crowd standpoint.” Even so, Fenway and the new Stadium are far more corporate than during that period. It’s safe to say the designer nature of the rivalry has changed the crowd dynamic for good.

Perhaps the fans still get into it, but the days of Jason Varitek hitting A-Rod, Karim Garcia getting into it with the Red Sox bullpen or Yankees fans uniting in hatred against Pedro Martinez seem so long ago. It also seems unlikely we will see a combination of meaningful competitive games, colorful personalities and intensity for quite some time – maybe ever.

Valentine did appear pleased that his comments caused a stir. Scott Lauber wrote in the Boston Herald that upon hearing the reaction, Valentine “laughed and clapped his hands.” (Jeter) reads the paper, huh?” he said.

Yankees-Red Sox in 2003 and 2004 is something that will go down in the history books. The latest edition might be more interesting than the last few years. Don’t, however, mistake it for anything close to the good old days; regardless of what Bobby Valentine says.


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