Watching these two teams play each other with grit, determination and passion was the catalyst for my opinion that this has evolved into into an interesting and entertaining legitimate rivalry since the start of the 2008 season and one of the best in the AL if not all of baseball. It has all of the elements one associates with a real rivalry with both teams battling to have successful seasons and each having to beat the other one way or another to achieve the primary goal.
Since that turning point for the Rays' franchise, they have won a total of 396 regular season games compared to 392 for the Sox. In 2008, the Rays went 10 and 8 in the head to heads against the Sox, 9 and 9 in 2009, 11 and 7 in 2010 and 12 and 6 last year which was an obvious key factor in the Rays' ultimately being in position to win a wildcard spot. This year the Sox have a 5 to 4 edge so far, but only one more series at home against Tampa and 2 on the road remaining. The Rays have been to the postseason 3 times in the last four and the Red Sox have gotten there twice via the wildcard. The Rays of course have won 2 division championships, a wildcard and beat the Sox in an ALCS to get to the World Series.
"True" rivalries tend to be cyclical in all sports and I think we in the midst of a very good one between the Sox and Rays and that it has surpassed the Sox/Yankees rivalry which began in earnest in 2003 and ended in 2007 at least at this particular point in time.