Sox-Yanks history adds to Super Bowl hype

Sox-Yanks history adds to Super Bowl hype

Teams from Boston and New York are playing a highly touted game with the sports world watching and bragging rights for two of America's greatest cities hanging in the balance.

Gee, baseball fans, where have we heard that before?

While Red Sox-Yankees might be the granddaddy of all sports rivalries, the NFL's version of a huge Boston-New York matchup will be played out on Sunday. Indeed, the sports world will be eating up the hype along with the nachos while watching every bit of Super Bowl XLVI between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants.

And with the big-city squads in Indianapolis this week, the quarterback behind Boston's perennial threat to make it to the football pinnacle says Patriots-Giants is making a name for itself, as those two teams are going to meet in the Super Bowl for the second time in the past five years.

"There's a great rivalry," Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said. "There has been between New York and Boston for a long time. When I got to the team [in 2000], it was always Red Sox-Yankees, [but] we've had some meaningful games against the Giants over the last few years. I don't think anyone's disappointed it's the Giants."

That all may be true, but Red Sox-Yankees still packs a pretty powerful punch after a century or so, and a particularly contentious past decade. But the Super Bowl is the Super Bowl, and this weekend, it has its place as a one-day extravaganza of sports, this time with a Boston-New York theme.

Certainly, members of baseball's most storied rivalry from those two cities will be watching intently, and some have chimed in on football's megagame as it approaches.

"The postseason, whether it's baseball, basketball, football -- it's all about getting hot," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said, perhaps harkening back to the 2011 Cardinals, the World Series champs. "Being healthy and getting hot. The Giants are both right now.

"I think they're going to win. I'm not just saying that because I'm a Giants fan. I'd love to see them win a world championship. I just think they're a better team right now. Hopefully that'll prove true on Sunday."

And how long, exactly, has Teixeira been a Giants fan? Well, as long as he's been in New York.

"Three years," Maryland native Teixeira said with a laugh.

Meanwhile, newly installed Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine has sort of the opposite problem. He's been in Boston for only a few months, but he grew up in Giants territory -- literally with Giants as family friends.

Who's he pulling for this weekend? Let's just say he won't get booed over it in his Fenway Park debut, and he'll have a friend in Patriots coach Bill Belichick afterward, regardless of the outcome.

"Patriots. Even though it's going to be tough," Valentine said earlier this week before heading to Indy for the game.

Thing is, Valentine has always known the Giants well, considering his close connections to the team while growing up in Connecticut.

"My dad's friend and childhood idol was a Giants Hall of Fame defensive end named Andy Robustelli; I grew up with the family," Valentine said. "It was hard not to root for the Giants growing up, but I told Bill I'll be there and I'll be rooting for him, so I'm going to be there rooting for him."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi isn't torn over this one, having gotten to know Giants coach Tom Coughlin over the last few years. His allegiance is simple.

"Giants," Girardi said Friday. "You'd imagine there's going to be some points scored. Both offenses can be pretty dynamic at times. The Giants have been pretty good at stretching the field."

Having led the Yankees to the 2009 World Series title, Girardi says he can understand a bit of what Coughlin has been going through this week.

"Yeah, it's a lot. It's a lot of preparation," Girardi said. "You think about all the things that they have to prepare for, and one of the things you hope is -- and a good portion of their players have been there recently -- that you don't get too bogged down with all of the outside distractions. He seems to be really good at handling all of that."

Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey also isn't torn, even if he doesn't have a team in the game. Bailey grew up in Voorhees, N.J., outside of Philadelphia.

As @AndrewBailey40 tweeted Wednesday, "I'm going with the Pats, 'cause as an Eagles fan I can't stand the Giants."

When it comes down to it, the big-city rivalries being played out this Sunday on the gridiron and at least 18 times later this year in ballparks are really apples and oranges -- or bagels and chowder. The Patriots and Giants could not possibly develop a rivalry like Red Sox-Yankees, and the Sox and Yanks can never meet for the ultimate prize in baseball because they're in the same league.

The history is definitely different, by the very nature of the sports. The Patriots and Giants first played each other in 1970 and have played each other 10 times, including Super Bowl XLII. The Boston and New York franchises in the American League first met in 1903 (after what would be the Yankees franchise moved from Baltimore). They have played each other 2,051 times and have played 72 games against each other since the last Boston-New York Super Bowl (Red Sox lead, 39-33). By comparison, the Patriots have played their division rival from New York, the Jets, 103 times -- and that's over 52 seasons.

And, true, the Red Sox and Yankees haven't played in a one-game spectacular like the Super Bowl ... well, unless you count the Bucky Dent tiebreaker game in 1978, or Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series, or Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS.

And there is the little matter of the 1986 World Series, which deprived Boston of a World Series championship when the Yankees' crosstown neighbors, the Mets, pulled off another miracle.

At any rate, the Patriots and Giants are each going for their fourth Super Bowl ring, so they're certainly organizations that have accomplished much over the years.

And members of the granddaddy of all rivalries will be enjoying every bit of it.

"I'm going to watch it quietly at home," Teixeira said. "This is one of those Super Bowls that I really want to watch every play. ... I'll be on my couch watching it -- and enjoying the commercials. I went to the Super Bowl the last two years, which is great, I love going to Super Bowls. But this one is going to be a nice one at home."

Which of course leaves Teixeira's prediction, although the victor everyone knows already: Giants, 27-24, the same score his manager Girardi predicted.

"I don't see anyone running away with this one, but I'd love to see the Giants by three," Teixeira said.

John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.