Sunday Night Baseball is in New York this Sunday for the Yankees and Red Sox game. Unlike other rivalries in baseball Boston and New York extends far down from the surface – immersed into the hearts of grandfathers and grandmothers.
“There’s nothing close to it,” Ravech says. “It has to do with the past. It has to do with Babe Ruth. It has to do with the recent past. It has to do with the present and it has to do with the size of the markets.”
Maybe Boston just has a complex about not being New York? After all, aren’t everyone’s Prada shoes longing to stray right through the very heart of New York?
“I think there’s a lot of people in Boston having grown up in the suburbs of Boston who feel as if their city is every bit as good as New York,” says Ravech. “So, it’s as much about the names of the cities that they represent as it is about the players on the field.”
Ravech believes the players on the field have changed their attitudes about each other. A sort of “antagonistic feistiness” is missing. “I don’t think that exists like it did when you had Thurman Munson and Carlton Fisk,” Ravech says.
So, with hugging ballplayers, intra-division trades, and camaraderie among opposing teams, much of the Red Sox and Yankees rivalry today is left to the fans.
“I think the people who go to the games and root for those teams are really at the core of why it’s as big of a rivalry as it is,” says Ravech. “The passion that they have for their teams is unparalleled.”
Baseball Tonight works so well because it’s packed with information. “Keep it moving. Give some highlights. Get the story’s out,” Ravech says with the energy and quickness that would match Justin Verlander’s fastball.
But that’s just part of his job. Baseball for fans is a love affair: A deep, torturous, wonderful, romance. What does he love about baseball?
“What I love about baseball is the fact that every night you get 15 different games and it would be impossible to predict the outcome of any game,” Ravech says.
Ravech understands being able to do this job for so long is something special. When he started, there were kids 10 years old watching him. Now, they’re 27 years old and maybe have children of their own watching.
“I want to be remembered as somebody who is fair, enthusiastic and loved what he did. I hope that comes across,” Ravech says. He hears more often than not that he’s good at what he does. “In the end, if people think that I was good at what I did for a long time that’s pretty cool in this business to last that long.”
Major League Baseball needs people to come home. The sport needs kids in the stands building baseball memories — that inseparable mixture of sticky cotton candy, pitching duels and vendors walking up and down the aisles just like they did 100 years ago.
ESPN is leading this charge by putting Baseball Tonight in the place where it all begins, our summer home.
After hosting Baseball Tonight for 17 years Ravech has a lot of great memories but there’s one that stands out, the way the breaking of an 86-year-old curse would stand out. Growing up in Boston he had been convinced, indoctrinated even, by those older and wiser that the Red Sox would never win another World Series.
“There I was in 2004 at the World Series and covering it.” Ravech recalls. “That’s one of those things that way after the career ends you look back and think, ‘Wow, there was an 86 –year- curse that was broken and not only were you there but you were covering it for the country’. Those are the things that kind of resonate with me. That particular moment — being inside the runway leading onto the field — we were on the field as soon as that [Red Sox winning the World Series] happened. It was pretty spectacular. I got to see tears from the Red Sox fans. That’s it. That was the moment.”
And in that instant — the highlight from his 17-year career — Ravech wasn’t behind a studio desk, he was in our summer home. Baseball Tonight has it right; memories that will last beyond a lifetime start from home.
Anna McDonald writes for ESPN’s Page 2 and covers the Yankees for the Sweet Spot Networks, It’s About the Money. You can follow her on twitter @Anna__McDonald.