Yankees: A Message To Red Sox Nation: Not So Fast

Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports /

Yankees fans, and maybe the team itself as well, have a message to deliver to the Red Sox Nation. And it’s a very simple one. Hold on, because you ain’t won nothing yet. Just like you, we have 162 games to play, and THAT is what will determine who will win the American League East.

The Yankees, the last time I looked, are scheduled to play 162 games in 2017. Which, of course, is the same number as all 30 teams in Major League Baseball. And no, I am not about to predict that the New York Yankees will unseat the reigning AL East Division winning Boston Red Sox this year. Because that is just as ludicrous as all the predictions that are bound to come that the Red Sox will become walk away winners again this year.

But what I believe is fair to say is that the Yankees are more than equipped to give the Red Sox a run for their money in 2017.

With tongue in cheek perhaps, New England Hall of Fame sportswriter, Peter Gammons, offered a column claiming that the Red Sox had replaced the Yankees as the New Evil Empire in baseball. This claim, of course, immediately followed the Sox winning the Chris Sale Sweepstakes.

Sorry, The Yankees Are The Evil Empire

That, my friends, will never be true. The Yankees will always be the most hated (read envied) team in all of major league baseball. And as fans of the team, we wear that mantle proudly. But Gammons, I believe, made a rash judgment about the Red Sox. Others, hopping on the bandwagon did the same thing in prematurely crowning the Red Sox Division winners.

More than the Yankees even, Red Sox Nation has a host of questions that need to be answered over the next seven months, and they are not easy ones to answer. First, where does the replacement of the production generated by Davi Ortiz last season come from? Because as far as I know, Todd Frazier and Mike Napoli have not yet joined the Evil Empire. Second, are we to believe that Cy Young winner Rick Porcello has suddenly learned how to pitch after establishing a pedestrian 85-78 record before 2016, including a 9-15 season with the Red Sox in 2015.

More from Yanks Go Yard

I don’t want to pile on, but what about

Mookie Betts

? Was last year a harbinger of the future, or a career year as we’ve so many times before. And what kind of a pitcher will Chris Sale be when he’s in the thick of a pennant race, and he’s

expected to win

, and not just playing out the remnants of the season as he was used to doing with the White Sox. Will

David Price

sparkle during the regular season and collapse in the Post Season again. Is

Sandy Leon

a viable answer as a backup catcher for 36-year-old

Ryan Hanigan

, who played in all of 35 games last season.

And I’m just getting started. The salient point, though, is that the Red Sox are not as “set” as many believe they are. Nor for that matter, are the Yankees. And any Red Sox Nation fan can jump in here and spell out just many question marks and holes for the Bombers.

Aside from injuries, there’s one thing that can kill a team quicker than Billy Hamilton runs to first base. It’s that god-awful word – expectations. Just ask the Washington Nationals, who self-imploded in 2015. Or the San Francisco Giants who were running away with the NL West at the All-Star break only to disappear off the face of the planet when they couldn’t find a closer. The best team on paper is hardly worth the paper it is written on.

The Yankees Are In The Catbird Seat

And the Yankees have the chance to prove that this year, entering the season as an underdog to the Bosox. The Yanks can be wild and carefree, as long as they go out there every day putting forth the effort that fans and management expect to see. And with the myriad of young talent competing for jobs and future, nothing less can be expected.

And if you go around the horn of the AL East, Baltimore, with the re-signing of Mark Trumbo, is the same team they fielded last year. Toronto is minus one very significant part of their offense in Edwin Encarnacion, plus one reliable innings eater in RA Dickey. And Tampa Bay is a wash after the trade that Evan Longoria took exception to that sent Logan Forsythe to the Dodgers in exchange for Jose Deleon. All three teams will figure prominently in the race as spoilers, and there will be no rest for the weary when AL East teams play each other.

So, let’s tamp down the celebration on Yawkey Way. Red Sox Nation may indeed have its day in the sun after 162 games have been played. But the rivalry is destined to be rekindled again this year, as well as on into the future when the real Yankees talent arrives at the Stadium. Start looking in your rear view mirror now, Red Sox Nation – because the Yankees are coming.

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And with due respect to Peter Gammons, the New York Yankees will always be the Evil Empire of major league baseball.