This past week, on July 24, marked the eighth anniversary of Jason Varitek stuffing his mitt into Alex Rodriguez’s face, lighting a spark under the 2004 Red Sox that resulted in Boston’s first championship in 86 years and a “reverse of the curse.” This happened, nearly one year after the Pedro Martinez/Don Zimmer fiasco in Game 3 of ALCS. But are the bench-clearing brawl days over between these two teams? Today, it’s a whole new ballgame and rivalry. Both teams have been plagued with injuries over recent seasons that send almost the entire roster to the DL at one point.
This season, the Yanks are looking like the 2010 Sox with the hinderance of countless long-term injuries: Rivera, Chamberlain and Gardner and short term: Robertson, Swisher, Rodriguez, Sabathia, Pettitte, Pineda, and Chavez. Both teams suffering this season, from blows to their rosters but the Yankee alternates have stepped it up to cover. The Sox, even with Pedroia, Ellsbury, and Crawford returning to the lineup, simply just don’t have it this year. The division stands, with the Yanks lookin’ pretty at the top and the Sox sinking to the bottom of the East, 10 ½ games back.
In terms of the rivalry, are we (Yanks fans) really that threatened by a team of young “no-names” sitting at the bottom of the standings? Boston used to be a lineup stacked with household names but with Francona out of the clubhouse, it doesn’t feel like quite the same Sawks ball club. The team chemistry is out of whack and it shows in how they are producing.
One might argue that the Yanks are climbing quickly up the age scale, I mean could Jeter still get to that foul ball 4 rows up in the stands today? Most likely not. Things have certainly changed. I can’t even pick on Youkilis’ batting stance anymore. Their captain ‘Tek retired. No more Irish jigs from Papelbon after closing out a game. Then the fried chicken scandal and passing of the torch to Bobby V…and the Sawks simply aren’t the same Sawks that we loved to hate. You don’t see as many “Buck Foston” shirts around, people aren’t THAT fired up for the matchup as in the past.
But we all know what can happen, dare I say- 2004? Is Boston capable of a feat like that in the near future? I say no. However, I seem to always be stuck in baseball nostalgia and I say the Yanks/Sox rivalry and history is alive inside of me and until one team moves to another city (won’t ever happen), the rivalry remains. Perhaps, a little faded at times but always there. Boston simply doesn’t pose as much of a threat this year and can only dream of a postseason birth with the new double wild-card format (ain’t gonna happen). The rivalry is the hottest when the two teams are more evenly matched up and competing in the pennant race. I hope this weekend proves me wrong and they go extra innings each night in overly exciting games to awaken the tension, bring back the Bambino curse, and revive the best rivalry in all of sports, please. Do you think the rivalry is dead, dormant/on hiatus or fully alive?