The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have arguably the best rivalry in sports. The teams are facing off in the postseason for the first time since 2004 in the American League Division Series. The rivalry has even made its way into the Daily Item newsroom. Red Sox fan Steve Krause and Yankees fan Gayla Cawley have outlined how their respective teams can win when the series kicks off on Friday.
Gayla grew up in Connecticut and in terms of sports, the Nutmeg State is tantamount to a political battleground.
The only time you’re not reduced to tears of sheer ennui when it comes to Connecticut is at a bar when the Red Sox are playing the Yankees. Then, it can get pretty intense.
This is also true if you’ve ever had the experience of sharing your alma mater with someone from New York. These interloping New Yorkers swarm all around us, pronouncing the name of our fair city “Borstin,” and bragging on all things Yankee (I don’t notice a lot of Mets fans in this group, but the Mets are beyond evil whereas the Yankees are simply evil). Generally it’s Yankees and Giants fans who rumble around as if they’ve been blessed with special chrism that allows them to be obnoxious at the sign of a baseball or football uniform.
Now to the matter at hand. Who’s going to win this series? Out of sheer patriotism, I have to go with the Red Sox, but don’t think it’ll be easy. In any other year I’d be conceding the series before it even started. Even in 2004 I was convinced something dastardly would happen even when it appeared the Red Sox had seized the momentum. All I can think of is that if it had been any other year, and any other circumstance, the umpires would have ruled that Alex Rodriguez’s hatchet chop to Bronson Arroyo was perfectly fine and the Yankees would have won the game. But 2004 was magic. This is 2018.
This has been a fabulous summer. The Red Sox won 108 games, swept the Pinstripes in August, when the games really counted (a caveat: that was right after Aaron Judge got hurt). And they barreled along right up until they took their feet off the gas pedal a little once it became obvious no one was going to catch them, and when manager Alex Cora started auditioning bullpen relievers who could, you know, get people out.
Judge is back and hitting home runs. Luis Severino gave the Yankees four shutout innings against the Athletics Wednesday night, and the rest of that lineup will be tough to contain.
Ordinarily that would frighten me. But this year the Red Sox can match the thunder. J.D. Martinez and Mookie Betts may have had short spurts of ordinariness, but they never lingered. Xander Bogaerts gave the Red Sox a third deadly clutch hitter in the middle of the lineup. Even if Andrew Benintendi’s power has gone south, he has enough value as a table-setter that you can’t count him out. And it appears as if Jackie Bradley Jr. has finally become a passable hitter.
Offense is not the issue. Pitching is. The Red Sox are coming into this series with questions aplenty about their bullpen, and it would appear that the starters — even Chris Sale — are going to have to go seven. Then, the battle of the matchups starts, and that’s when I see problems.
But these are not insurmountable problems. Besides, the Red Sox have the ultimate X factor — you know, the guy who comes out of nowhere in comparison to his more celebrated teammates and saves the day. So expect something truly eye-popping out of Brock Holt. A playoff series like this, with all the cameras on both teams, was made for the Brock Star.
He will be the difference.