Last year, when Red Sox fans greeted Johnny Damon with a chorus of resounding boos upon his debut at Fenway Park as a member of the New York Yankees, Joe Torre talked smack about Sox fans. ''I guess we should feel proud. Evidently, wearing a Yankee uniform overrides winning a World Series and busting your tail for four years. Without Johnny here, they may have been working on 89 or 90 years," he said.
Torre's misguided view about Sox fans remains. For some reason, he thought that a rivalry that has been intense for more than a century would mellow in 2004 after the Sox made the greatest comeback in sports history by turning a 3-0 ALCS deficit against the Yankees into an AL pennant and a subsequent World Series title. Before the Sox edged the Yankees, 7-5, in Ft. Myers on Monday, Torre said, "I thought some of the anger would subside. Sometimes you have to remind Red Sox fans they did win the World Series, but they still maintain that personality. I mean I love Boston, don't get me wrong, but the anger that has been built up there over the years, it's still the same. There is still a lot of resentment toward the Yankees and that's what fuels the whole rivalry.''
In one respect, I shake my head and say that Torre just doesn't get it. He has managed the Yankees long enough to know that the Red Sox and Yankees have been bitter rivals long before he even arrived in the big leagues as a player. He mistakes anger with passion. Why would Red Sox fans lose their distaste for the Yankees, and their desire to win even a spring training game against the Bombers, just because they won a World Series? Don't tell me that Yankees fans don't feel the same fanaticism about defeating the Red Sox, otherwise blogs like this would not exist, and the rivalry would not be so fierce. A rivalry at its very definition requires devout interest from two sides. Yankees fans care as much about what is happening in Red Sox Nation as Sox fans do about the daily happenings of the Evil Empire.