Aaron Boone
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox had their first meeting of the COVID-19 version of baseball, and Aaron Boone noticed something amiss.

Even the greatest rivalry in all of sports can’t go through COVID-19 unscathed. New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone felt intensity was absent from his team’s rivalry with the Boston Red Sox when the fans were removed from the equation.

“Tonight I certainly noticed and just being back at home,’’ Boone told the New York Post’s George A. King III on Friday. “Seeing our fans in this rivalry, can’t help but notice how usually how intense it is. That was missing a little bit so it was definitely a little bit different.’’

After delaying Opening Day due to COVID-19, MLB finally resumed play at the end of July, with the stipulation that fans cannot attend. Teams are blasting canned crowd noise, but the visual effects of utterly empty stadiums are jarring.

The cardboard cutouts—and even the digital crowd overlay that Fox used at times during its broadcast of Saturday night’s Yanks-Sox game—aren’t helping all that much.

Average attendance at Yankee Stadium in 2019 was 41,827, per ESPN. The last time the Red Sox came to the Bronx, for a four-game series in the first week of August, the contests drew 188,925 attendees. That averages out to 47,231 fans per game.

The two teams’ initial series of the 2020 season will draw zero fans for an average of zero per ballgame.

Soon fans may not even be able to watch on TV. COVID-19 outbreaks among the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins prompted MLB commissioner Rob Manfred to threaten canceling the rest of the season.

While the atmosphere at Yankee Stadium is diminished, at least baseball is being played. Enjoy it while it lasts, New York Yankees and fans.

Freelance editor and writer, and full-time Yankees fan. Originally from Monticello, NY, but now lives in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.