The Insanity Known As “Yankees-Red Sox”

It begins for real Friday night – the first series of 2009 against the team Yankee fans love to hate. From the cheers and jeers to the we’re-better-than-you-are arguments, The Rivalry seems to get more intense every year. It definitely brings out the creativity in bloggers (hat tip: nomaas).

Part of me can’t wait until Lester and Joba go at it. The other part wants to hide under the bed. 
But here’s my real dilemma: I have important meetings in LA and will be forced to miss some of the game, which starts at 4 p.m. here on the west coast! Instead of being glued to the TV in my living room, I’ll be stuck in traffic on the 101 Freeway!
It’s not in my DNA to miss a single installment of Yankees-Red Sox. But the meetings in LA are about the possibility of turning my book into a movie, so I can hardly blow them off. Hopefully, I’ll be back in Santa Barbara in time to see Mo trotting onto the mound at Fenway for the bottom of a 1-2-3 ninth.
In the meantime, I thought I’d post the article I wrote for the New York Times in 2008. It’s about Yankees-Red Sox and why The Rivalry always keeps me coming back for more. Enjoy (and don’t forget to enter the Flip Video Contest).


Loving the Team You Hate

Published: July 3, 2008

My mother always says there’s a fine line between love and hate, because both emotions stir such deep and abiding passions in us. Since mothers are right about 99 percent of the time, I assume mine is right about the love/hate thing.

Keep up with the latest news on The Times’s baseball blog.

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So what I’m wondering, as I immerse myself in this latest series of contests between the Yankees and the Red Sox, is this: Is it possible that a tiny piece of my pinstriped heart beats for the Sox, even as I can’t endure the sight of Josh Beckett, not to mention Tek, Youk, Dicey-K, Nancy Drew and Big Sloppy? Can a Yankee fan actually have a love relationship with the bullies from Boston, our sworn enemies?

I realize that the question sounds not only Carrie Bradshaw-ish, but also downright sacrilegious. Me? Love the Red Sox? I’d rather stick needles in my eyes.

Still, it’s a question that must be answered, given how fixated I am on the Sox — from checking their scores daily to perusing that crazy Sons of Sam Horn Web site. Surely, it is hate, not love, that causes me to boo them mercilessly, rejoice in their every loss and adopt superstitious behavior meant to bring about their collapse. (Giambi stopped shaving his ‘stache; I stopped shaving my legs.)

On the other hand, why do I get all giddy with excitement when the Red Sox blow into town? Why do I have a little more spring in my step? Why do I drop everything and plant myself in front of the TV for four straight days if I really, truly despise those clowns?

For instance, I once begged off an invitation to a baby shower on a Saturday afternoon because the Yankees and the Red Sox were playing. The puzzled hostess asked, “Why can’t you just TiVo it?” I apologized but admitted that I could never attend a baby shower during a Yanks-Sox game, even if the baby in question was my own.

Yes, I watch because the teams have an awesome rivalry. No matter what our respective standing in the division, we somehow remain wonderful foils for each other. It is their scruffy outlaws versus our scrubbed professionals: their cocky Papelbon versus our cool-headed Mo; their durable Wakefield versus our dynamic Joba; their eccentric Manny versus our egocentric A-Rod. Even our ballparks are rivals: their peculiar Green Monster versus our pristine white facade.

The games always last for hours and are packed with high drama, whether they’re blowouts or tight pitchers duels. And let’s not forget all the bean balls and brawls. There is so, so much history between us. Dent and Boone. Schilling’s bloody sock and Dave Roberts’s steal.

Dave Bleepin’ Roberts. The very thought of what that late-season pickup did to us in ’04 makes me insane. No, of course it’s not love I feel for the Red Sox. It is hate, pure and simple.

And yet it’s twisted how much I obsess about them, about how much I get up for playing them. I want us not only to beat them but also to look fabulous doing it — from making flashy defensive plays to smashing homers over Coco Crisp’s head. It is as if the Red Sox are some swaggering bad boy who is clearly not right for me but has, nevertheless, managed to crawl under my skin — a guy I find insufferable but impossible to dump.

Oh, God. What am I feeling?

I quickly call my friend Lisa, who happens to be a Red Sox fan but is otherwise a very nice person.

“I have to ask you something,” I say. “Does any part of you love the Yankees?”

She laughs hysterically. “Uh, no.” More laughter. “I hate the Yankees, you know that. The World Series didn’t mean as much last year because we didn’t go through you to get there. You validate us and we validate you. It’s like we need each other.”

That’s it. I understand now. I don’t love the Red Sox any more than Lisa loves the Yankees. It is simply that we are addicted to each other’s team in a totally unhealthy, co-dependent way.

And — this is just a hunch — we are not the only ones.


  1. Jane Heller

    Yes, I did read his quotes, Julia. I don’t think anyone would be happy if it happens again. I don’t even know what triggered it in the first place.

  2. Lissi

    Just today I was questioning what it is about bad boys that make me go all weak in the knees. Maybe that’s why I like the Red Sox. They have edge, the Yankees are just so clean-cut and annoying. I get it. Thanks.
    I hope your book gets turned into a movie! I would definitely go see it!

  3. rrrt

    Movie talks – how exciting! Hope they go well! I gotta say, that Wonder Woman pic is just a bit scary looking. Funny article, I had not seen that one before. (“Nancy Drew” – have to remember that, he is one of my least favorite players)
    Rants, Raves, and Random Thoughts

  4. redstatebluestate

    Thanks for pointing out how developed Tek has become in his old age. I like his curves… sad to say. Good luck with the meetings. If it goes through okay, I bet those Yankees (other than DM) will be sad they didn’t give you the time of day.


    Wow again…you have tapped into something deep here!! And as a fan with serious rooting interest in several of the most furious rivalries in existence (Duke-UNC, Redskins-Cowboys), oh how I can relate. There was a time when I actually felt sorry for the Sawx…you know, ’67, ’75, ’86…but no more and Never Again. My bro-in-law loves ’em and will NEVER let me forget ’04. Yes, there absolutely IS that sense of validation with your bitterest rival…part of me believes that each team makes the other BETTER, and vice versa nowadays (not so much in the past, maybe due to ESPN…)
    On the Other Front… A MOVIE? Seriously?! OMG, how truly fan-tastic…what studly hunk do ya want to play Michael? And if Sarah Jessica really IS a Yankee fan, get her, that’s my advice…someone who can really GET INTO what it’s all about!!!

  6. Erin Kathleen

    I don’t usually take sides in the Boskees rivalry, but I hope the Yankees win. After the humiliating sweep in Boston, I would like nothing more than for someone else to return the favor. Oh, and I picked the Yankees today, so I kind of want them to win anyway.Good luck with your meetings! The prospect of having your book made into a movie must be really exciting. I hope that whoever gets to play you is actually a Yankee fan, that would be most fitting. I know that isn’t the way things are done in Hollywood, and that good actresses can make you believe in their characters anyway. But it would be really weird watching a Red Sox fan trying to play a die-hard Yankee fan.-Erin

  7. levelboss

    “..the meetings in LA are about the possibility of turning my book into a movie..”

    Jane, who’s gonna play levelboss the blog commenter? i just wanna let you know that i’m available to play me (@ scale of course)

  8. Paige Landsem

    Loved that article. I’d never thought of a rivalry that way, but that really is how it works! I just got tickets to a Yankees game in June, and as excited as I am to be going to New York, I was kind of bummed it wasn’t a Yanks-Sox game!

  9. steve_t

    There’s Opening Day and then there’s the official start of the season. Yanks and Sox. Weather is perfect and the teams have identical records going into this series. There’s just nothing better than this.

    Steve T.

  10. heartruss

    Jane, I like the idea of turning your book into a movie. I think you should, of course, play you!!
    I have to say that I will be hoping for Yankees victory over the Red Sox. Nothing against you, Julia (your blog is one of my two faves, Jane’s being the other) but Dodgers fans and Red Sox fans don’t usually see eye to eye.

  11. raysrenegade

    This is where the good, the bad and the also rans will come out and bit it a bit this weekend. Not to say either team will falter far in 2009, but this series has been the prognosticator’s dream in recent years.
    The first true Yankees/ Red Sox folly is the premire to summer. Forget any other movie opening this week, they will not have the action or the drama of these three contests.
    The only problem is it costs more than a movie ticket, but can be twice as fun.
    I will sit by and wait until the smoke clears on Monday and see who is the triumphant team in this series. Hopefully it will be injury-free and also full of long dingers to right field.

    Rays Renegade

  12. flairforthedramatic

    LOL, looove that second pic.. hilarious, hehe..
    Really great article.. couldn’t have said it better myself.. It’s a weird relationship that I guess is what puts the rivalry so up there on the list of greatest rivalries in sports..
    – V [ ]

  13. Elizabeth D

    It all makes perfect sense now! I told my friend today that she better plan her wedding on a Red Sox off day. She asked me what I would do if her wedding was on the first Red Sox vs Yankees game of the series.
    She was disappointed in my response time… and my response.
    PS: Your book should totally be made into a movie! It would be great!

  14. jimmy27nyy

    Hey, Jane …

    Finally, the first Yankees vs. Red Sox series of 2009 is here !!! … It’s been a long wait, and somehow it seems like the baseball season is just starting tonight !!! … The game is now going into the top of the third with the Sox leading, 1-0 … Two double plays by the Yankees have helped Joba in the first two innings so far !!!
    Great article from 2008, Jane; and, good luck with your meetings … Reese Witherspoon is still my choice to play you in the movie version of your book !!!
    Enjoy the game, Jane !!!
    — Jimmy Curran, “BY&L”

  15. Alex

    I once saw a Yankees series in Fenway. It was one of the best series I’ve seen. When the Red Sox got massacred in August 2006. Yankees swept the Red Sox, at Fenway. It helped put the Yankees into the playoffs. I hope it will be the same thing again this time.

  16. junojen

    Sorry, Jane. Looks like Melky has some more atoning to do. Is “atoning” a word? Probably not. But you know what I mean.

    I still need to read your book (sorry).

  17. Jane Heller

    The Yankees are more clean cut than the Sox, Melissa. You’re right about that. But don’t let the close shaves fool you. If you like bad boys, read “The Bronx Zoo.”

    Sue, one of the producers I went to see is a huge Phillies fan. I felt very smart knowing about Cole Hamels and others from reading posts by you and Jenn.

    I think Varitek looks very curvy in that pic, Jeff. But he’s not your type. I just know it.

    Thanks, Kaybee. Glad you liked the article.

    Sarah Jessica Parker is a big Yankee fan, Dave, but she seems very involved in developing the sequel to the Sex and the City movie. Timing is everything. Sigh.

    So you related to the article, Neal? I thought it would be fun to explore our feelings for our oldest and biggest rival.

    I love your scientific/technical interpretation of the article, Jenn. It makes me sound smart. 🙂

    Sorry the Yankees couldn’t return the favor tonight, Erin. It was close though. As for the movie, it was funny because Ben Affleck’s name came up in the meeting as a possible candidate to play the husband in the story. I said, “No way. He’s a Sox fan. That’s where I draw the line on casting!”

    Levelboss, you’re absolutely right! We’re going to need someone to play the blog commenter! Get ready for your close up.

    Paige, I’m excited for you that you’re going to the Stadium in June. (Maybe I’ll see you there. I’m trying to plan a trip.) Be grateful it’s not Yankees-Red Sox because you’d be paying double!

    Russ, there will be plenty of scenes showing the heroine’s obsession. Trust me on that!

    It’s always compelling, Letsgoyankees. No matter what the standings, the teams seem to bring out the best in each other.

    Totally, Steve. And tonight’s game was more proof. Could it get any tighter? My throat was closing up.

    Cat, the Yankees just couldn’t get it done. So frustrating. As for me playing myself? LOL. I’m way too old and decrepit.

    The injuries piled up for the Yankees tonight, Renegade. Ransom got hurt stealing second, and Bruney seems to have an elbow issue. Very worrisome.

    The boys at nomaas did some nice photo shopping, V. Not that you couldn’t have done better, of course.

    LOL about your conversation with your friend about her wedding, Elizabeth. I SO get it!

    I did enjoy the game, Jimmy, although I would have enjoyed it more if we’d won. You too, I’m sure. It was a nail biter until the bitter end. (I like the idea of Reese Witherspoon too.)

    Alex, it always seems that the Red Sox beat the Yankees early in the season and the Yankees beat the Sox later in the summer. We’ll see if the pattern holds for ’09.

    Greg, I’ll definitely look for you on TV tomorrow. If you’re working the area near that section behind home plate where the blond guy always sits, wave to the camera!

    Melky does have lots more atoning to do, Jennifer. I was so mad at him tonight. He had to have heard me yelling!

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