Remember the anticipation and the animosity? Thinking it’d be the end of the world if the Yankees lost to the Red Sox? Feeling like a giant weight was lifted off your shoulders if the Yankees won?
Those feelings are back thanks to a little slide at second base by Tyler Austin. The rivalry is must-see tv again.
Back in the late 90’s and early 00’s, it felt like the only games on the schedule were Yankees vs. Red Sox; the rest was just filler. The rivalry went dormant, though, for a few seasons as both organizations struggled to maintain consistency from year-to-year. It also didn’t help that the Sox went on to win multiple championships.
But after both teams fought for the division and made the playoffs last year with young rosters, and especially after this past offseason, you could feel the temperature begin to rise again; the hiring of two new managers, the acquisitions of Giancarlo Stanton and J.D. Martinez, sky high expectations for two teams in an otherwise weak division.
It all felt like we were on a collision course for what transpired last night.
While it may not ever come close to Pedro Martinez throwing hands at Don Zimmer, or Alex Rodriguez fighting with Jason Varitek (who kept his full catchers gear on), it was a pretty good addition to a book already filled with great chapters.
As John Flaherty said last night on the pregame show, the Yankees in the early 00’s hated the Red Sox, and so did the fans. Guys like Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Kevin Millar, Curt Schilling, Martinez etc. There was actual hatred. Last night brought some hatred to the surface for a new crop of Sox players. Even the coaching staffs got into it a bit as Alex Cora and Phil Nevin exchanged some words.
After Thursday night, there will be 16 more games between these two clubs — the next series takes place in the Bronx from May 8-10. The Yankees will likely retaliate, it’s just a matter of when and who will do it. Each game will be filled with tension, and each inside fastball will be scrutinized. There will be a level of anticipation that’s been absent in recent years.
When the Yankees go to Detroit for a weekend series, it’ll feel a little deflating. The intensity won’t feel the same, the magnitude of every pitch will be ratcheted down a bit. Yankees-Red Sox will once again be highlighted on the calendar as the main attraction this season. The rest of the Yankees’ games will feel like they’re pedestrian and an appetizer to the main course.
Now all we need is 16 more games like Wednesday, and a possible playoff matchup in October to really bring the rivalry close to glory-day levels. For now, we’ll all tune in and watch, and wait on the edge of our seats to see what happens next.