Balance of Power

20 03 2008

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.

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One response

20 03 2008
Nick

I honestly don’t know about all this. I see the Steinbrenner bluster and I know the Yankees have a very good team, but in no way do I fear them. I see a Red Sox team that should be better than last year’s version, especially offensively where they upgrade with Ellsbury over Crisp and have a healthy Ortiz. While it’s possible Manny Ramirez is going to fade again in the regular season, I tend to always believe he’ll be able to hit. With Beckett, Matsuzaka (who I think will make a leap to quality number 2 this year), Wake, Lester and some combo of Buchholz, Tavarez, Colon, I like our starters and I love the bullpen (especially the Papelbon, Okajima, Delcarmen trio).

Then I look at the Yankees and I see a very good lineup, but the pitching still doesn’t match up. They have no ace, because although Wang is an excellent pitcher, he’s not a step up, cocky, shut your ass down starter. Pettite and Mussina don’t worry me all that much, while I think Hughes is at least a year away from stepping into that number one slot, much like Buchholz is. The difference is that with Beckett, the Sox can afford to wait. I don’t think the Yankees have anything that would worry me in a playoff series when it comes to pitching.

As far as us being the anti-Yankees…I feel like anyone hanging onto that is about the worst kind of self-deluded Sox fan. We’re not the anti-Yankees, we’re like the better version of the Yankees. Buy some huge stars other teams can’t afford, all while developing some excellent young players and winning World Series. Since the Yankees went over 100 million in payroll, they haven’t won a World Series. Since then, the Sox have won two. Any Sox fan acting like we’re the little engine that could is likely the kind of person who was trying to start a ‘Yankees Suck’ chant at the Pogues show last night.

And I’m okay with that, because I like watching my team win the World Series, and I’d like it to become a common occurrence. I don’t care that we probably outspend the AL West (minus Anaheim), or that the Sox payroll this year will be about seven years worth of Devil Rays payrolls. It doesn’t make it impure or unethical. They do what it takes within the system that’s established.

New York won in football…that’s it. I just wanna enjoy taking it to them in every other sport for a while now, because every other Boston team (except maybe the Bruins…who are close) is superior to the NYC version. Shit, even the football team still is (and that’s not one of those ‘Giants didn’t deserve that game’ sentiments…the right team won that day). Nothing about the Super Bowl really changed that in my mind. It certainly hasn’t turned me into a woe-is-me fan*, asking why we never get a chance to see that. I’ve been spoiled in recent years, I love it and I feel like it’s gonna continue.

*Only BU hockey could still make me feel like this. If major improvement in the form of a Frozen Four doesn’t happen within the next three years, there are major concerns for me with the state of the program.

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