BOSTON — Kyle Schwarber was an 11-year-old slugger in Middletown, Ohio, when Alex Rodriguez turned to Jason Veritec, uttered a few choice words and dared to brawl to a Boston Red Sox catcher, Varitek only to comply. was very happy for He’s never forgotten it.
Gerrit Cole, perhaps already realizing his fate as a formidable, dominant, right-handed pitcher, whenever Roger Clemens or Pedro Martínez “tucked it out”, as Cole put it, might In the most compelling chapters of the rivalry.
Alex Cora? He was just 3 years old, and “walking around with a big yellow wiffle bat” in Puerto Rico, as he put it, when Bucky Dent scored a division-cleaning home run on Green Monster, the first and only one game. It was the playoff in the history of the Boston Red Sox–New York Yankees rivalry.
That will change Tuesday night, when the Red Sox and Yankees, winners of this season’s 92 games, gather at Fenway Park for an American League wild-card game, with the winners playing the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Division Series starting Thursday. moving forward.
And doesn’t that alone feel a little wrong?
These are the Red Sox and Yankees, the franchise of Ruth and Gehrig and Pedro and Jeter, not a pair of middleweights glued to the ropes, hoping to survive long enough to play an expansion team at the Sun Belt.
Oh, it must be a great Tuesday game. Cole, the Yankees’ $324 million ace, will start opposite Boston’s Nathan Iovaldi, two right-handers who wield the radar gun and the range of competitive integrity. His power will only be surpassed by batsmen, from the Yankees’ stalwart Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton – the latter posting a historic three-game home run binge at Fenway 10 days before – to Raphael Devers, an MVP waiting to be done. Was. whose two-homer game propelled Boston to the playoffs on Sunday.
Yet both teams’ significant flaws have been on display throughout the season, with the Yankees suffering a 13-game losing streak earlier this summer, with Boston saving their playoff hopes a week with five losses in six games, one Section that is marked by ill-fated baserunning and a fielding lapse.
“At the same time, with a swing, we can win. We are what we are,” Cora said at Fenway Park on Monday. “We know we are not perfect.”
There is hardly any encouraging support for this Red Sox club to live up to its recent lineage. Sure, the teams are filled with 21 All-Stars, former MVPs and Rookies of the Year, and maybe a future Hall of Famer or two.
Yet either club is unlikely to score a playoff run together. Given the pressure environment of the one-game wild card format, there’s a better chance they generate an indelible moment that could inspire today’s preteen.
fight for attention
Rivalry can also use it. It is easy to forget that just three years earlier, the club had met in a best-of-five AL Division Series. What’s more, they were a fantastic ballclub – the Red Sox won 108 games, on their way to a World Series title; The Yankees won 100.
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However, the series itself was not particularly memorable. Boston won, 3–1, the biggest takeaway came with Cora’s cleverness and daring use of her opening pitcher from the bullpen as Rick Porcello and Chris Sell appeared in relief, the forerunners of David Price and Iovaldi World. Were doing the same thing in the series. .
It is possible that this rivalry peaked with his absurd run in 2003–04, starting with current Yankees manager Aaron Boone to win the ’03 pennant’ in the 14th inning of Game 7. Then came the most famous comeback in modern baseball history – Boston’s victory in seven games from a 3-0 ALCS deficit and eventually claiming its first World Series since 1908.
Tough act to follow, eh?
Throw in the fact that Boston won again in ’07, and ’13, and ’18 and, well, what comes after blends together. Cora played for the 2007 title team and was the Red Sox from 2005–2008. Still, he struggled to recall any exclusivity from his time in the rivalry leaning against the Yankee-Red Sox.
“It was more about the characters, wasn’t it?” Quora says. “Players, larger-than-life people – Manny (Ramirez) and David (Ortiz). David is also retired now, he’s Big Puppy. Jeter, Posada… names at the time were like, Wow, these guys incredible players Huh.
“They used to fight during the day too. Jason and Alex. So, I think it gave it a little bit more, for baseball, for the fan base. “
There’s a lot less fighting going on these days, not least since Red Sox reliever Joe Kelly drilled Tyler Austin and stirred up a brawl in April 2018. Cole and Iovaldi talked about their mutual respect on Monday. A rumor that Cole gunned down a group of Red Sox players at July’s All-Star Game failed to gain tabloid traction.
Earlier on Monday, Major League Baseball released its list of the 20 best-selling jerseys in 2021. Judge, at No. 7, was the only player from any team on the list (though Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who moved from Chicago in July, ranked No. 12.
One Yankee, no Red Sox, yet four Dodgers, and two players each from the Padres, Braves, and Cardinals?
Could this rivalry be irrelevant?
‘It matters here’
not so fast. While that 2018 ALDS was over early, it delivered the stuff that made the network salty on these Northeast behemoths — Breakthrough Game 4 saw a ratings boost of 63% from the previous year and the highest-rated non-game since. The 5 Division series was broadcast. 2011.
Thus, chicken and egg: are the Yankees and Red Sox popular because they’re always on, or always on because they’re so popular?
“It always felt like when you flipped on ESPN on Sunday night,” Schwarber recalled of his childhood, “it was the Yankees-Red Sox.”
On Tuesday night, he will have the national stage alone for the fifteenth time. Yet his first one-game shootout in 33 years will undoubtedly stir up the atmosphere at Fenway.
“Wonderful,” said Boone, imagining it already. “Here’s a discussion. It matters here. It’s fun to compete in sports here, it’s hard to compete in sports here. A winner-takes-all playoff game will have tension, power, everything you want.” “
And perhaps there will be another light-hitting infielder on one of these teams immortalized in baseball lore for putting the perfect swing on the ball at the most opportune moment.
“Bucky Dent, isn’t it?” When asked about the history of the game, Cole said.
Don’t buy his oblivious shtick. He knew.