It dates back as far as 1918. It has The Babe, Bill Buckner, and Aaron Boone. It has survived the dead ball era, the live ball era, and the steroid era. It has dramatic story lines like 1978, 2003, and 2004. It is the very definition of what a rivalry is supposed to be about. And now ESPN has declared it all but dead?
During the culmination of the latest installment of The Rivalry, broadcast on ESPN, Dan Shulman was heard to say, on multiple occasions, that the Stadium was oddly quiet and that the rivalry has lost it’s luster. He intimated that, perhaps, this was due to the teams’ vast separation in the standings. But here’s what Shulman is missing. Rivalries, this one more so than any other, do not concern themselves with records or standings. Ask any fan of either team. Read the posts on Twitter and Facebook. This rivalry is as strong as ever! And it does not need the National attention of FOX & ESPN to justify its validity in the sports world. It has existed long before Joe Buck and Tim McCarver arrived on the scene. And it will be here long after ESPN is done salivating over Tim Tebow and LeBron James.
The problem is, that ever since 2003, the national media outlets have sucked all they can out this rivalry, managing to somehow overkill the one thing in sports that needs no buildup. They have used the rivalry, the teams, and the fan bases to garner huge ratings and make ridiculous amounts of money. And now, because one team is struggling, they want to cast it aside. It can’t always be October. And no matter how hard they try, they can’t make it so. But that doesn’t mean the rivalry is any less intense. It just means it’s no longer serving their purpose.
So it’s time to give it back. Part of the problem is that this rivalry has begun to lose it’s identity, from a national standpoint. Part of what makes it so great is the local flair that provides all of the intensity that FOX and ESPN cannot show. It’s not fair to us fans to constantly have Joe Buck or Dan Shulman tell the nation how we feel! Give it back to YES and NESN! At least they have a pulse on how each city feels about, not only their team, but the other team as well. The big channels can’t come in, spend two or three days around the teams and think they can portray an intimate knowledge of this rivalry. The fans will enjoy the games just as much on a sultry Tuesday night in the Bronx as any other time during the season. They don’t need it wrapped up in a pretty bow and presented to them like a gift.
And that’s the shame of it. Because this rivalry is a gift. But to the big network’s it is a sacrifice to the Ratings Gods. Well, it’s time to give it back! FOX & ESPN have lost site of just how great this rivalry is due to their greed and avarice. If they have the audacity to believe it has lost its luster, then they should surrender it unto the fans. Give us back out rivalry! Your loss will truly be our gain!