Last night, I had a conversation with a friend of mine who grew up north of Boston. We talked about the upcoming baseball season, really the beginning of the year in The Hub. Time starts and stops with baseball — really the central glory of that town.
We talked a bit about the team this year, about road trips, about fellow Sawcks fans and all that. But we talked most about how uncomfortable he is right now as a fan. We talked about how, for the first time since 2004, the two-town balance has tipped back toward New York.
This time, it wasn’t the Sox’ fault. The scale righted itself to The Big Apple when Eli Manning scrambled out of that almost-sack and flung a ball into the hopeful air and onto the facemask of David Tyree in that final drive of the Super Bowl.
Up to that point, The Bean had the edge. New York, irrepressible as it is, had been virtually silenced. The Yankees had done nothing but disappoint since 2001, and the language most often employed to describe them involved words like ‘end,’ ‘dying dynasty’ and ‘over.’ And the Mets…well, we know what happened last October.
But the Super Bowl was how New York got its groove back. It’s like a golfer who’s been bruising trees all day finally bombing a drive on the fairway or sinking a putt. It changes a round. And, for the past seven years, it’s been one long, obscenity-riddled round.
It’s tough to decide which fanbase is composed of more insufferable fans — New York or Boston. Certainly, both have their diehards that have died harder than many fans in the country can begin to know (bigger market, bigger expectations, bigger crash). But the smugness, the condescension, they only get worse with success.
But what doesn’t is the rivalry. Giants-Pats is never going to be a real rivalry — that win was, at the very best, a fluke. A majestic, allegiance-changing fluke. As my football coach used to tell me, even a blind squirrel finds his nuts sometimes. But when Tyree came down with the ball and Plaxico Burress hauled down that undefended pass in the back of the end zone seconds later, they ensured that the balance of power went back to where it was when this Yanks-Sox rivalry was at its very best.
For the Sox and for Sox fans, it’s necessary to be the anti-Yanks. The US to their USSR, the Ben & Jerry’s to their Donald Trump, the Jen Aniston to their Angelina. Now, whether or not those differences are all illusory (they are), New York’s got the edge again, even on defending champs. The win was just too big, just too unforseen.
And now, Opening Day can’t come fast enough.