The Giants and Dodgers, Mets and Yankees, White Sox and Cubs, the list goes on. These are some of the better rivalries around the MLB. But no rivalry over the years has been more fierce than that of the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. Until now, that is.
The Red Sox and Yankees go all the way back to when Boston sold the rights to that one guy. You know, this guy:
The Red Sox ownership sold the rights to the most legendary player in history to finance Broadway plays. After that, the Red Sox would not win a World Series until Theo Epstein stepped in and took over to lead the club in 2004. During that time span the Yankees would dominate baseball with 26 World Series titles before the Red Sox would be able to raise a new banner.
There’s Bucky, Buckner, Boone, Babe, and countless other painful memories throughout the history of the Red Sox seasons of trying to redeem the ill-fated decision nearly a century before. Then Theo came in, and history was changed.
After that 2004 championship for the Red Sox, the rivalry would go on to grow fiercer during the next decade. The Yankees and Red Sox would compete year in and year out for top free agents such as Ellsbury and Damon, Teixera and Crawford. Players would switch sides and be ostracized by their former fanbase. During that time the Yankees would go on to win their 27th title in 2009 and the Red Sox would add both the 2007 and 2013 championships to give them a total of 3 once the “curse” had been lifted.
The last few seasons, however, it’s not been as bitter, not as fierce. The Red Sox and Yankees have been essentially irrelevant in the past 2 seasons other than the Yankees getting knocked out in the wild card game this past season. The RedSox signed Chris Young away from the Yankees and not barely a flinch was made nationally. When David Price signed on to pitch in Boston the chose he Red Sox over the Cardinals, not the Yankees. The rivalry has grown stale.
Yet here are the Cubs and the Cardinals, and of course in the middle of it once again, Theo. The Cubs and Cardinas just met in their first ever playoff series this past postseason with the Cubs knocking out the Cardinals in the NLDS.
The I-55 series has plenty of history as well. The Lou Brock deal has haunted the Cubs for half a century. Harry Caray, the great announcer who grew to true fame as a Cubs color commentator, started with the Cardinals. The Cubs memorable 1984 season had Hall of Fame 2nd baseman Ryne Sandberg break on to the national scene in a “game of the week” that watched Ryno tie the game in the 9th with a solo shot and in the 10th hit another 2 run homerun to tie it again against the Cardinals before the Cubs would win in the 11th. The game has since been dubbed “the Sandberg game”.
The history of the I-55 is just as bitter and fierce as that of the Yankees and Red Sox for fans of the Cardinals and Cubs. And this postseason just made it more electrifying.
Then came this winter, and Theo is out to do more than just “Break the Curse” for the Cubs. He is out to ignite the rivalry to never-before seen levels.
Like the Yankees had done following the purchase of Babe Ruth, the Cardinals have won 5 World Series since the Cubs traded Lou Brock, including Brocks first season with the Cardinals in 1964.
Like the Red Sox would have during their drought, the Cubs have plenty of extra curses of their own. There is the infamous Billy Goat, the black cat, and of course, Bartman. None of which are reality, the only true “curse” the Cubs had over the years was that of bad management, hence the move of Brock.
Now this offseason as Chris Youngs move from New York to Boston barely made a footnote of the Winter Meetings, the news that has shook the MLB landscape is that of John Lackey and Jason Heywards drive down I-55 to play in Chicago, and taking their 9.6 Wins with them.
Pouring salt into the ever-widening wound for Cardinals fans is that it has been reported Heyward actually took less money to play for Chicago than what was offered from St Louis.
Theo is at it again. Cardinals fans are torching the jersey of their once beloved one year rental player and Cubs fans are circling the calendar for another trip to October, this time a little bit longer into the Fall season.
Make no mistake, while the Red Sox made waves with the David Price signing and hope to rebound, and while the Yankees pray their corner infielders can put off their inevitable decline one more season, the baseball fans across the nation won’t be fixated on the east coast any longer when talking best rivalry.
With respect to the Dodgers and Giants and Red Sox and Yankees, the must see tv rivalry for all of the MLB now resides between the two cities connected by I-55. The Chicago Cubs and the St Louis Cardinals.