In a recent story in the New York Times, journalist Jennifer Schuessler reported the end to some long time, bitter feuds between famous authors. One even involved an incident where the novelist Richard Ford spit on Colson Whitehead after Whitehead wrote a nasty review. Norman Mailer decked Gore Vidal in another famous writers’ feud. We don’t see this kind of venom in literary circles too much anymore, since the most acrid statements are blurted on Twitter, where one can safely take jabs. During an episode of Saturday Night Live, actors portraying George W Bush and Kanye West presented their new “friendship.” This brought to mind our beloved Sox and their most important rival. I wonder if in some ways the spitting and the brawls have ceased after ’04 and ’07.
Tony Massarotti asked the same question a month ago, during the opening series, on the Baseball Reporters. When I tried to call into the show, I couldn’t get through. What I wanted to report was my attempt to conduct an experiment here in New Jersey. Wearing my Red Sox hat out in public more frequently in a territory marked by Yankees hats and everything else, I have been hoping to get a gauge on the fuel that feeds the feud. Thus far, there has been only one sour comment, and even that was pretty mild. “I didn’t know you were a Sox fan,” the manager of a nearby restaurant said. “Well, I am a Mets fan,” she added, “but my husband is a Yankee fan.” The three other vocal responses have come from fellow Sox fans, who excitedly shared the satisfaction of some recent victories.
So, I ask, is there something missing from the rivalry? Do we want some blood? Is this just a natural evolution of the game, where ballplayers from opposing teams are best friends? Where are the days of Bob Gibson, who didn’t speak to opposing players, even during the All-Star game?