With fresh, talented names coming up in both organizations, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox rivalry could return to its entertaining form.
The New York Yankees rivalry with the Boston Red Sox can be traced all the way back to the mid-1910s. Over 100 years of hatred-filled baseball, no rivalry in the sport is more intense.
We have The Curse the Bambino, The Boston Massacre of 1978, Bucky F**king Dent, Aaron F**king Boone, the most epic comeback in a postseason series the game has ever seen and countless of other events that provoked sheer hatred between each side.
Since the inception of the Wild Card era in 1994, every postseason featured at least one of the two squads for 20 years. They have squared off in the American League Championship series in 1999, 2003 and 2004, have met in the final series of the season to decide the league title twice (1904 & 1949) and in 1978, they played a one-game playoff to decide the division winner.
Not only have these contests led to fan disorder, player violence and even political recognition, but when the Yankees and Red Sox took center stage, baseball paid attention. And the sport was better for it.
Today, we can’t speak of the rivalry with that same tone. In fact, the only aspect of this matchup that remains constant to this day is the extra cost of tickets, a six-hour contest and unnecessary primetime coverage on Sunday Night Baseball.
What used to be a game-by-game drama-filled affair with playoff implications on seemingly every pitch has downgraded to the opposite and there are a couple reasons for it.
Yes, the Red Sox took home a World Series trophy in 2013, but they have also finished in last place in the AL East in 2012, 2014 and 2015. The Yankees have been excluded from the postseason in three of the last four years and haven’t made it into the division series since 2012. The storied franchises have not been in the postseason at the same time since 2009 and last played in a series in 2004.
While two teams that represent the cream of the crop that is the AL East are floundering, no team in the American League has won more games than the Baltimore Orioles since 2012 while the Toronto Blue Jays have made an appearance in each of the past two championship series. The Yankees and Red Sox are no longer the powerhouses.
Furthermore, the names that made this rivalry so great are no longer in the picture. Gone are the days of Derek Jeter, Roger Clemens, Jason Varitek, Mariano Rivera, Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, Jorge Posada, Curt Schilling, Andy Pettitte, Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis and many more who have been the cornerstones of this epic rivalry in the 21st century.
Just last year, two of the most prominent figures — Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz — have ridden off into the sunset and put an end to their major league careers. Is this the official death of the greatest rivalry in modern sports? Actually, it’s quite the opposite.
The Red Sox’s window is wide open. The addition of the firey Chris Sale, who’s under team control until 2019, helps give arguably the most talented core of young talent in the game — the Killer B’s (Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts) — an ace to ride into and through the postseason with for the foreseeable future.
Amidst a franchise shakeup and roster breakdown, New York is on the verge of exploding into yet another dynasty and the potential is on full display here in year two of the accelerated rebuild.
Aaron Judge is putting on a nightmare-inducing power display with six home runs in 17 games while always making his way onto the Statcast leaderboard. Gary Sanchez has already established himself as one of the best young talents in the majors and Luis Severino, fresh off two starts with 10-plus strikeouts, is finally showing signs of that “future ace” potential.
With these names, a new chapter initiates and the rivalry, that has gone through these types of transformations before, may be returning to its intense reputation much quicker than envisioned.
Both teams have the talent to warrant even the common fan to take peek at the AL East once in a while this year. Albeit, the Red Sox are in win now mode while the Yankees are assessing the glut of talent in their farm, but these franchises have a much-anticipated run at the pennant over the next few years and although it’s early in 2017, the divisional race is shaping up to once again feature a year-long fight between these two squads.
Don’t think so? Just last year, in a year in which the Yankees waved the white flag and gave up on the season, entered a four-game series in Boston on September 15 just four games out of first place in the AL East. In fact, if it weren’t for three late-game collapses, the young Yankees may have made things interesting.
Entering play on Wednesday, the Red Sox have started 11-8 and sit a half game behind the Bombers in the division standings. Both trail the Orioles, who are in first place.
Boston is all riled up following a dirty slide by Manny Machado into the leg of Dustin Pedroia. Luis Severino, tonight’s starter, has already showcased his fiesty side in a bench-clearing brawl in Toronto in the midst of a Wild Card race. While some forget, even one of the hottest hitters in baseball Chase Headley got into it with tonight’s Red Sox starter Rick Porcello last year in another bench-clearing incident.
Sparks turn to fire, folks.
Yes, it’s April. No divisional title is won in the opening month of the long, grueling baseball season but we certainly have seen them lost at this point. However, that’s not the point.
The Yankees and Red Sox rivalry has been a liefeless competition between two teams experiencing an injection of youth while striving to stay relevant. Now, the prospects are budding into stars, veterans are taking the leadership role in their respective clubhouses and the 18 games that the two teams play this season could determine the winner of the American League East division title.
This rivalry has all the potential in the world to reignite into what we all loved a decade ago. The best part is? These squads can exceed the thrills we all grew to expect when they took the field.