Yankees and Red Sox playoffs: The AL East in shambles

(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Crucible

There is one last difference, in timing, that might lead to a greater one, in outcome. Boston was soundly beaten last year. Fans and team management were hoping it would serve as a challenge to the Sox’s players, making them more focused this year.

We’ve seen it before. The ’96 Yankees were created by the ’95 Mariners; Boston’s 2004 championship team was formed by the 2003 Yankees.

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But that is not how the 2017 Red Sox responded. They did not come back with the kind of resolve that would allow them to overcome any pitching obstacle, or even ready to compete at the highest level.

Hopefully, the baby bombers will have a different response. They have seen how their intensity level must increase in the playoffs and how each mistake is magnified; that means you can’t make any.

And they now understand that to win a championship, it’s not about pitching or scoring: It is about imposing your will on your opponent. The Yankees got a lead on the Indians but never conquered them. They know that now.

The Yankees need to be that team in 2018 and beyond. Because these playoffs are almost over and the AL East is not having a good showing. One or both of these teams will be eliminated soon. And if the Yankees want next year to be better, they need to improve. A lot.

Next: Aaron Dortch's piece on Girardi's Current Clubhouse Credibility

They need to improve their pitching, defense and intensity. Fortunately, this team is still on an upward arc and should get a few more chances to prove their mettle, with or without Girardi.

Boston, however, might already be near to its end.