Red Sox fans and media are quick to call this historical rivalry dead because the Yankees are in the midst of a rebuild. Hate to break it to them, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Yankees PSA: Perhaps instead of the Red Sox faithful clamoring to proclaim the Baltimore Orioles as their new arch-nemesis, they should concern themselves more with the Bush league move that was Matt Barnes throwing at Manny Machado‘s head. Or, what about team leader Dustin Pedroia subsequently tossing his teammate under the bus when he let the O’s know he wasn’t down with that type of retaliation.
But hey, if the Bo Sox want to take it easy on the Yankees because we’re not worthy, then be my guest. The Sox may have won the season series from the Yanks in 2016, 8-11, but how quick we are to forget about 2015 when the Bombers took 11 of 19 contests.
New England: don’t act like the Yankees didn’t come into Fenway Park last September 15, only four games back of first place. Yes, you swept us — after we blew multiple late-inning leads.
Essentially, the Red Sox ended our season. But honestly, it was OK. Nine out of ten Yankees’ fans were shocked to still be in contention following the mid-summer overhaul of the roster.
This isn’t an excuse, it’s the truth. The underlying variable was that the rivalry is alive and well because these games once again mattered in the standings.
Maybe Sox supporters should listen closely to Pedroia, who recently echoed those exact sentiments to Dave Sheinin of The Washington Post.
"“They definitely have a bunch of very young and talented players, but with that organization, you always count them in at the end,” he said. “Even last year [when the Yankees traded veterans for prospects in July and August], everyone thought they were punting, and they were there still in it until the last week. They’re always going to compete for a title — I don’t care what their circumstances are.”"
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman did a marvelous job retooling the farm system, now ranked second best in baseball by MLB Pipeline.
No doubt, Chris Sale is a stud. He’s arguably the most important cog in the machine moving forward for Boston. Yet, by trading Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Luis Alexander Basabe and Victor Diaz, the Sox have put an enormous amount of pressure on themselves to win a World Series NOW. That type of pressure didn’t exactly work out too well last season when the 93-69 AL East champs got swept out of the ALDS.
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The Yankees may have a handful of overpriced veterans themselves, but aside from Jacoby Ellsbury‘s giant contract, the glut of elder statesmen will be off the books following the 2018 season.
I acknowledge the fact that Boston has a number of solid young players (Andrew Benintendi, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr.); but the depth and potential of forthcoming Yankees’ prospects (Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres, Justus Sheffield, Chance Adams, Blake Rutherford, etc.), added to the overall effectiveness of the kids already at the big league level (Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Dellin Betances, Luis Severino and Didi Gregorius) promote the fact that like it or not, the Yankees are ready to rock this rivalry like it’s the late 90s all over again.
I won’t jump for joy that the Yankees are currently 11-7 in the AL East, half a game better than the Sox. Or the fact they have a +30 run differential (the best in baseball), or the second best staff ERA.
For me, it’s more important that the Yanks find themselves two games back of the first-place Orioles, all the while staying true to their belief in homegrown players.
The future is bright for the Yankees. One would argue, brighter than it is for our rivals, the Red Sox.