On October 19, 2004, the Red Sox were trying to steal a second consecutive win after falling behind three games to none to the hated Yankees in the ALCS. I was in second grade and ecstatic –since the game started at 5:00, I could watch the whole thing from start to finish. As the blinding late-afternoon sunshine blinded Gary Sheffield, Bernie Williams, and Hideki Matsui in the outfield, Johnny Damon dug in to begin the second piece of the greatest comeback in baseball history. No one knew what was about to happen and it was thrilling.
Some thirteen years later, I can honestly look back and say that the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry has lost almost all of its steam. A lot of that had to do with the Red Sox finally exorcising their demons and breaking the 86-year curse. The underdogs had finally won it all. Now what?
That was the theme for about ten years. You see, from 2005 to 2015, the Sox and Yankees were never really good at the same time. Then, last year, things began to change.
We had a true pennant race in the AL East, with the two teams at the top comprising the game’s once-vicious rivalry. Each team had its household names: Sale, Betts, and Devers in Boston, and Judge, Severino, and Tanaka in the Bronx. Boston and New York finished with 93 and 91 wins respectively, the first time both teams finished with 90+ wins in the same season since 2011 (although we all know how that season ended up for the Red Sox).
With the acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins last week, the Yankees became the team to beat in the AL East, and maybe even the entire American League. A team that led the league in homers in 2017 picked up baseball’s homer king for 2018. Records are destined to be broken by this Yankees offense. The loss of athletic infielder Starlin Castro is merely a formality in this offseason bombshell.
The Evil Empire, once mired in a seemingly unshakable coma, has returned to the gates of Masshole hell. It’s time to break out the Yankee toilet paper and the “A-Roid” t-shirts. Even in the midst of the holiday season, the boxes of lights and ornaments won’t be the only things coming out of the basement in the 617.
Most of the Boston sports media will tell you that the season is lost because Stanton is in pinstripes. Though the move puts Boston at a disadvantage for now, the offseason is far from over. Pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers 63 days from now, giving Dave Dombrowski plenty of time to cook something up. There are still some great prizes in free agency. Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer and Arizona’s J.D. Martinez are still available, and I honestly project at least one of these guys coming to Boston for 2018 and beyond. To write this team off now would be hasty, which is the exact type of thinking that gets prognosticators in trouble. It even got the Red Sox front office in trouble when they signed Carl Crawford to big dough in 2011.
These two teams are entering a new chapter of their storied history. Aside from Taylor Swift’s usual sold-out shows in Foxboro, Red Sox-Yankees at Fenway will be the ticket of Summer 2018. That hasn’t been the case for a long time.
The Red Sox are down, but far from out. To the Yankees, I say this: it is so on. It feels great to say that again.