Red Sox: Return of Yankees rivalry brings excitement to AL East race

Aug 14, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; General view of Yankee Stadium after a game against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Tampa Bay Rays won 12-3. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 14, 2016; Bronx, NY, USA; General view of Yankee Stadium after a game against the Tampa Bay Rays. The Tampa Bay Rays won 12-3. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees are the creme de la creme of baseball. Nothing is sweeter than a series against each other.

I love the Yankees! Now before you go to Home Depot for the tar and feathers special I will attempt to explain myself. I will frame it with there is special enjoyment in having a throw down with the Yankees. I really can’t get that excited about Baltimore or Toronto. Nothing against either, but the real rivalry is New York and the Yankees. Unfortunately, some Boston Red Sox fans view the Yankees like a lobster does a pot of boiling water.

The issue goes deeper than baseball as New York and Boston have long been at each other’s throats in economics, politics, education and a myriad of other connections long before sports entered into the picture. For good measure, one may toss in Philadelphia, but this is all about sports and particularly baseball.

For decades the rivalry was on hold. Boston has been just another stop on the schedule on the way to the inevitably league championship and World Series – at least for the Yankees. My highlight until 2004 was a five-game Fenway Park sweep against the Yankees in 1959. That put the other Sox – the pale version – into a solid lead and the Go-Go White Sox won the league – only eight teams in those days.

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Both franchises have had their lean years with New York suffering the fate of corporate ownership by CBS. The “Big Eye” may know broadcasting, but they knew squat about baseball. Eventually George Steinbrenner – the Donald Trump of baseball – rescued them and all has been glorious broadsides since.

This century, as in the beginning of last century, Boston is on a roll. Three titles – not bad. New York, however, was down and out for a few seasons until now. Brian Cashman – the Yankees GM – made some rather shrewd moves and New York is solidly relevant again. That is something special. Would I rather go into a meaningful series against Tampa Bay or New York?

The beauty is how close they have been in one and one combat over the last ten or so years. I read that the record against each is almost identical. But something is still missing. There have been far too many niceties exchanged of late. A real on the surface mutual respect. Bad for the haters business and any reasonable New York and Boston fan is just that – a hater.

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The beauty of all that hate is you realize after watching the other guys with such regularity that they are damn good players. David Ortiz and Derek Jeter get the ultimate – grudgingly it may be – from “the other guys” when they retire or even when a nice play happens. An injury is met with concern and not good riddance. Amazingly – at least from my perspective – the mutual hate has manufactured incredible respect.

Maybe we don’t need a series of donnybrooks on the field that have an illustrious history. Maybe now beanball war as with the O’s or continual “issues” with the Rays. However, they do add a certain undeniable element to the rivalry. I expect that to resurface as the two teams become closer in the standings and within the games.

The path to a championship used to be through New York and now it seems to be through Boston. That may change again. For now, both teams have a nice blend of talent and a good part is young talent so that means many years of potential – potential for discovering an Alex Rodriguez type villain.

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Calendars will now be marked for when the Yankees come to town. Their games will be checked each evening just as their fans will check ours. In July, New York will pay a visit and as the song goes: “The boys are back in town.”