The Boston Red Sox versus the New York Yankees is as good as it gets in playoff baseball. The fans, media, and player all want it this way. Enjoy!
The Boston Red Sox have created a historical exorcism this century by vanquishing some demons for baseball failures of the past. The most notable was 2004’s come from behind humiliation of the New York Yankees in the ALCS. That may have been well worth the decades of “1918” being chanted along with the one game playoff failure of 1978.
The St. Louis Cardinals beat a favored Red Sox team in 1946 in a seven-game series and beat them again in 1967. The 1967 team was certainly a significant underdog and stretched the series out the full seven games. Boston evened that score in 2004 and 2013.
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Now it is back to a clean slate with the Yankees. Both teams are excruciatingly close with talent. Both have slight edges and slight deficiencies when matched against each other.
The long season series of 19 games proved nothing except the games are ponderous, the fans of both teams incredibly passionate, and players seem to just not like each other. What more could you ask for?
I was keenly aware of the A’s versus the Yankees in one game and the possible outcome if the A’s managed to win. Maybe possible retribution for 1988 and 1990? Not to me, as the only team I would want to face is the Yankees. The Yankees won a 100 games and in any normal season would have sauntered into the playoffs as division champions and favorites. Not this season.
The storylines on both sides will take on a life of their own and already have. Every potential baseball minutia will be extracted and analyzed to the nth degree. This would most certainly not happen if it was a five-game series against any other opponent.
Both sides have now engaged in social media flame wars that exceed the political meme nonsense that is a daily menu of distaste. And those exchanges have been humorous to vile and that certainly is no shock. Whoever becomes victorious will have years of potential fodder to dispense – expect that to be as pointed, nasty, and vicious as possible.
As a Red Sox fan, I hope the series goes the full slate of five games with no blowouts or three and done. As a Red Sox fan, a loss at any point of the playoffs would make the season a disappointment. With 108 wins the expectations are high and that expectation means a flag and not a historical footnote. A nice Red Sox walk-off in game five would be just perfect.
The next week will be enjoyable, painful, depressing, exhilarating, disappointing, frustrating and on and on. And that may also be a description for each at-bat knowing the emotional investment for fans of both nations.
This rivalry goes beyond sports and has fermented for centuries and long before baseball was even an informal game. A rivalry steeped in economics, politics, and education. But when you say one is “The Big Apple” and the other the “Athens of America” you know we have more than just one-upmanship.