3/06/2008 09:00:00 AM

Yankees-Red Sox Rivalry Is Some Serious Stuff

Posted by Mark McCray |

We all know how much we hate the Red Sux, but I have to say, it can get just a bit out of hand at times.

Here is Terry Francona speaking about a friendship with Joe Torre that out of necessity lived behind closed doors.

After four years as the Boston Red Sox manager, Terry Francona can finally put his arm around Joe Torre behind the batting cage.

If Francona tried that when both led enemy squads in the intense Red Sox-Yankee rivalry, he risked the wrath of passionate fans who would gasp at such fraternization.franconatorre

But on Thursday, Torre will be wearing Dodger blue instead of Yankees pinstripes. To add to the switch in sympathies, former Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe will start for Los Angeles in Torre’s first visit to Fort Myers since he left New York after last season.

"I’m glad he’s in the National League," Francona said Wednesday. "I feel like I can go put my arm around him tomorrow and nobody’s going to start yelling at me."

He wasn’t just worried about himself. Francona, who exchanged voice mails with Torre during Boston’s postseason run to the World Series championship last year, also was concerned how any public cordiality would reflect on his counterpart.

"I never went out there to the batting cage," Francona said, "not just because of me. I just didn’t want to put him in that position. People don’t want to see that."

"I’m not complaining. I love this," Francona said. "You can downplay the New York stuff all you want. You can’t downplay it. It’s real, it’s great. The games are so great. But it’s OK."

It’s fun" to joke about the rivalry now that he’s out of it, "especially the way people perceive the Red Sox and the Yankees that they hate each other," Torre said. "As a rule, the players always have a great sense of respect for each other."

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