March 10, 2013; Dunedin, FL, USA; New York Yankees third baseman Kevin Youkilis (right) slides safely into home plate as Toronto Blue Jays catcher Josh Thole (left) is late with the tag during the fifth inning at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Who Are These Guys?

Opening Day at Yankee Stadium on April 1 is certainly going to have a different feel this year.  It will still be Red Sox vs Yankees, but the cast of characters on the benches will be dramatically different from what we are all used to seeing.

The avalanche of injuries experienced by both teams is the culprit.  Each team will have to play with a very different group of players.  The names missing from the lineups are immense.

The Red Sox will likely be without their heart and soul, David Ortiz and Kevin Youkilis will now be at third base for the other side!  The Yankees will be missing Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and possibly Derek Jeter.

Suddenly, the greatest rivalry in sports has a bunch of no-name and journeymen players representing it.

Melky Mesa, Juan Rivera, Ben Francisco and Chris Stewart are just some of the new Yankee names.  The Red Sox will counter with David Ross, Jonny Gomes, and Ryan Dempster.  Not exactly a laundry list of All-Stars.

The managers, Joe Girardi and John Farrell, are prepared to play with what they have and the players want to win the game no matter who is out there.  But will the fans care as much?

I believe the answer is still yes.  The bottom line is fans still root for the laundry over everything else.  It doesn’t matter who plays, fans will always find a way to love their team and hate their team’s rival.

You think Yankee fans weren’t bothered last year when Yankee pitching couldn’t get Pedro Ciriaco out all season?  Were Red Sox fans disappointed that Brett Gardner was hurt most of last year and not able to run wild on the base paths?

It will be fascinating to see if the rivalry loses any of its edge early in the season.  These will be the only three games the teams will play with each other before July so I think the answer is likely no. There’s just not enough inventory of games between the clubs in their current state.

If you’re a fan, the players you love to hate on each side won’t be on the field right now.  But later in the season, when things really heat up, the regulars should be back out there.

So, even though this isn’t Red Sox vs Yankees of 2003-2008 will it still be as much fun for the fans come opening day?

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Tags: Boston Red Sox New York Yankees

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