Yankees-Red Sox is like your best lure thrown in the water after a long day of fishing with little to show for your hard work. The suspense drawn from these rivals tangling on the diamond, together with our love of baseball, is something to behold and welcome, especially when played in enemy territory.
Aaron Boone, Don Zimmer, Bucky Dent, Johnny Damon, Pedro Martinez, Grady Little, Derek Jeter, et al. are all names etched in Yankees-Red Sox lore. For a moment in time, each created an indelible image in our minds as fans of either team and for the love of baseball.
There was a fear that Yankees-Red Sox no longer took hold of our attention the way it once had. But then, Joe Kelly and Tyler Austin came to play one day this spring, getting involved in a minor scrum over nothing, and both teams go into this series playing tag for first place in the AL East and winning almost seven of every ten games they play.
The talk begins at the water cooler today with Yankees fans wondering why, for instance, Clint Frazier will be suiting up to play, ironically, the Pawtucket Red Sox for the Yankees Triple-A team when Boston is throwing three lefties at Fenway.
Likewise, Boston fans will wonder how much their team will miss the fire of Yankee killers Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz, and if Mookie Betts will prove to be a genuine challenger for the AL MVP during the series.
Yankees-Red Sox means phones lit up at pre-determined barbeques tracking the score, crowded bars and restaurants in both cities jammed with fans, sneaking off to the restroom during a movie when with a date who just doesn’t “get it”, sidewalk vendors and taxi drivers obliging passers-by with the latest score, all for the love of baseball on a summer night at Fenway.
It’s just another game the players will say, despite the number of times Meredith Marakovits will try to convince otherwise in her pre-game interviews for YES. For veterans like CC Sabathia and Brett Gardner, their job is to keep the one game at a time tone in place, especially when it comes to their still wide-eyed prized rookies, Gleyber Torres and Miguel Andujar.
Sonny Gray, tabbed to start Saturday’s game, will hopefully be seen at the top step of the dugout, carefully gauging each pitch thrown by Sabathia tonight and the Sox batters reaction. After all, Yankees-Red Sox is the reason Brian Cashman outbid everyone last season to bring Gray here.
It may be Yankees-Red Sox, but the bases are still ninety feet apart. And the spin on a slider looks just the same as it did in your last at-bat yesterday.
Put in perspective, though, nothing much will change for either team when Monday morning rolls around. Two out of three for either team gains a small advantage in the standings, but it’s likely to be only temporary, provided both teams can stay healthy. A sweep by either team generates a swell of confidence, but again nothing that can’t be overcome with a six-game win streak by the other team.
The Yankees-Red Sox series is knotted at three games apiece so far this season. When the current series is complete, the teams will face off another ten times, including the final three games of the season. It is, as they say, a long season in baseball.
Rightly so, however, there will be no “perspective” when the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is re-lit tonight in Boston. This one game is to be played for keeps…