The Yankees may be teetering on the edge of extinction in the 2017 playoffs, but they are not the Boston Red Sox who were eliminated today by the Houston Astros. Just desserts? You betcha!
The Yankees battled the Red Sox all season long for the American League East Division title. In the final days of the season, the Yankees set a torrid pace for the Red Sox to equal. And thanks to a quirk in the MLB schedule, the two teams did not meet as they usually do in the final two weeks of the season.
Yankees fans can only lament as to what might have been if they had met, and Boston hung on to win the division by a mere two games. As a result, each team went their separate ways in the ALDS with the Yankees drawing the Indians and the Sox, the Astros.
Most Yankees fans and I am one of them, never did believe the Red Sox were a better team than the Bronx Bombers. Short of starting pitching with a staff that included the much heralded, Chris Sale, last year’s Cy Young winner, Rick Porcello, and the much-traveled, Chris Pomeranz, the Sox managed to stumble through the season.
But in the playoffs, creme usually rises to the top, and this same trio faltered against the Astros and are now packing their bags at Fenway, branded as “losers.”
And as a Yankees fan, I feel right about that. The same fate could be ours tomorrow night, but these Yankees have done what the Bosox couldn’t do, forcing a decisive Game Five, suffering the humiliation of watching the Astros celebrate on their home field.
And even MLB Commissioner, Bud Selig, weighed in on the impact of the rivalry on baseball:
But that was then, and this is now. The Yankees and Red Sox are destined to always be in the middle of things, especially in the AL East. But the “trigger” is lacking, and that may well be a good thing. The Yankees won the regular season series against Boston 11-8. Not precisely dominate, but definitive.
And throughout the regular season, the Yankees hung tight amidst two months in which they played sub .500 baseball. When September rolled around, the Yankees caught fire, and the Red Sox were caught looking over their heads at the scoreboard every day while the Bombers put together a charge to overtake their rival club, even until the next to last day of the season.
The Red Sox prevailed, fending off the Yankees. But it was done with illusion and mirrors because the best of the two teams was rising while the folks at Fenway could only hope to pin their hopes on an injured David Price, And a reigning but befuddled 2016 Cy Young winner in Rick Porcello, or a Dodgers castoff, Drew Pomeranz. Or, the less than reliable offseason sweepstakes free-agent addition, Chris Sale, who has been a shadow of himself in the second half.
“Big Papi,” David Ortiz was gone, and the Red Sox had no answer to replace his run production and the threat of the three-run home run lacking in their lineup. Mookie Betts, Dustin Pedroia, and the rest, though quality players in their own right, could not make up the difference in, the name of the game today, power. The Red Sox finished the season with 168 home runs compared to the Yankees 248, and in today’s game, that matters.
So, yes, it feels good to see the guys from Beantown taking it on the chin from the fledging Houston Astros. You betcha, it does.