MLB Spring Training 2012: Yankees vs. Red Sox Rivalry Starts Early This Year

Bill FordCorrespondent IIIMarch 24, 2012

FORT MYERS, FL - MARCH 22:  Manager Joe Girardi #28 of the New York Yankees directs his team against the Boston Red Sox during a Grapefruit League Spring Training Game at JetBlue Park on March 22, 2012 in Fort Myers, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

New York Yankees fans and Boston Red Sox fans have long been East Coast rivals, and fans have always passionately defended their teams.

The rivalry is usually a lot of fun. Sometimes the rivalry can be a bit nasty, and can occasionally turn violent. In some cases, stories of the rivalry can get ridiculous.

My personal opinions about the rivalry will always support the Yankees. My devotion to them is lifelong, and I am biased toward them, of course.

The latest development in the Yankees vs. Red Sox rivalry seems to have moved higher to occur between managers Bobby Valentine and Joe Girardi, although this case of rivalry appears to have been manufactured by Valentine.

The Yankees and the Red Sox tied 4-4 in a spring training game on Thursday. Girardi decided to call the game as a tie after nine innings.

Valentine accused Girardi of not being very courteous. He claimed that he wanted Clayton Mortensen to pitch in the 10th inning to gain some time on the mound to compete for a spot on the roster. Mortensen was optioned down to Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday.

Girardi responded by saying that had he been approached about it, he would have agreed to play another half-inning. He had not been approached by anyone asking if he had extra pitchers to continue the game on Thursday.

Girardi's main concern is to keep the players strong and healthy. He said that he has to make sure that the club is healthy and ready to play, and that Valentine should be concerned about the same thing for his club. Girardi doesn't want his players put into bad situations.

Girardi is worried about the Yankees right now, especially with the recent injury development with Joba Chamberlain. His focus on the team's health is appropriate, and will always be paramount.

In my opinion, Valentine has always had a big mouth. As a Yankee fan who grew up in the Bronx, I remember Valentine as a manager with the New York Mets. Mets fans may have liked him, but Yankee fans found him to be irritating.

His new-found home with the Red Sox appears to have unleashed the Valentine that I remember. He has already made numerous public comments about players, and now a manager.

Aware of how intense the rivalry can become, I have no doubt that his words and his actions are intentional as an attempt to ignite the furor of Boston fans and motivate the rivalry early. In a way, I would say that the public comments that he makes are nothing more than publicity stunts.

The rivalry, for the most part, is a lot of fun. Most of us look forward to it, as long as it doesn't become violent. My only issue with Valentine is that he seems to thrive on attention and is trying to ignite the fans over something absurd.

Valentine made an issue out of a non-issue. Is anyone actually surprised?

He accused Girardi of not being courteous to make Boston fans angry. Please. Girardi is probably the most courteous man in baseball.

The 2012 Yankees vs. Red Sox rivalry is getting heated already, and this season will probably more intense than usual. Bring it on.