The Yankees and Rays rivalry is so intense the National Guard will be posted in the stands – or so the media would have us believe. Phooey.
Did you know that the Yankees and Rays hate each other? In case you didn’t, the media is all over the “story” this weekend, and by the time the first pitch comes on Monday night, you’ll be on the edge of your seat, anticipating which pitcher will be the first to “buzz” a batter.
Here’s the spoiler – no one.
The problem is this. There’s a three-day lull in the action because both the Yankees and Rays disposed of their opponent with two-game sweeps in the AL Wild Card Series.
This causes panic for radio talk-show hosts and embedded newspaper writers for each team who must still answer the call to write about something to carry the day for their boss.
It’s all hurry up and wait now, and there is little of substance to write or talk about. The situation is exasperated with the Yankees and Rays nestled in San Diego hotels under MLB quarantine rules, limiting access to team personnel.
The Yankees And Rays Phantom Rivalry
Kristie Ackert is the embedded Yankees reporter for the New York Daily News. She did not select the above photo to appear on the back page – her editor did – along with the likely suggestion to follow the theme in her main story.
To her credit, Ackert did not attempt to add gasoline to the fire. Instead, her intelligent article is tethered to reality. She accurately relays the history of the Yankees and Rays rivalry that emerged throughout the 2020 season.
But as a seasoned journalist who is close to Yankees players and coaches, Ackert knows all too well there is no way Aaron Boone or clubhouse leaders like Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge will jeopardize a chance to win a World Title.
Neither are the Tampa Bay Rays. An incident did happen, it was justifiably covered at the time, and Major League Baseball stepped in to hand out suspensions as warranted to both the Yankees and Rays.
The roles of the Yankees and Rays were reversed this year with Tampa Bay soundly beating up on the Yankees, winning eight of the ten games played.
The Yankees were stung and embarrassed. They have every reason to hate themselves, not the Rays, for the outcome of those games, mainly because they amounted to the difference between first and second place in the AL East.
TBS is the broadcasting network that will carry the entire ALDS. Their producers will want to extend the Yankees and Rays beanball hype, at least during the initial broadcast on Monday.
Again, here’s the spoiler. Neither will – they have better things to talk about.
Yankees And Rays Pose Plenty Of Intrigues
Come to think of it, so do I.
The most perplexing challenge facing Aaron Boone and Kevin Cash is arranging their starting rotation for up to five games with no interruption unless there’s a freakish spell of rain in San Diego.
Both managers are holding back on making announcements, other than Gerrit Cole will start for Game One for the Yankees.
From there forward, Boone and Cash are expected to select a starter based on the outcome of the previous game.
The schedule will also impact the use of relief pitchers. Boone, with one exception (Shane Green), has stuck to not using his relief specialists more than two days in a row. A need can arise where he will have to revise that rule.
Unless a position player has a nagging injury that can be antagonized by consecutive days of play, Boone’s lineup will not change much from game to game.
So there, you see? There is plenty to mull over these next few days.
Monday – Are We There Yet?
Both the Yankees and Rays are exploring new territory in this year’s expanded playoffs format.
There are more than enough distractions and inconveniences for players to deal with – without having to indulge in a phantom Yankees and Rays rivalry that is minuscule when compared to the intrigue of decision-making discussed above.
And we’d all be better off if these editors and producers would just take a couple of days off.