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April 20, 2007
The Feud is back
By Tom Caron, NESN Staff
Let's get ready to rumble.
The Sox and Yankees open up their first Holy War of the season tonight at Fenway Park, a three-game set that comes a little too early for my taste, but serves as a perfectly timed test of the Sox’ hot start.
In today's Boston Globe, Bob Ryan calls the Boston/New York rivalry "manufactured fan nonsense," essentially saying the on-field feud doesn't stand up to other great rivalries.
The comments echo a feeling throughout much of baseball that the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry has jumped the shark. That it peaked a few years ago with -- let's say it together -- "the Greatest Comeback in Baseball History."
I'm here to disagree. I think the rivalry is back, and it could become as strong as ever.
The 2006 rivalry might not have lived up to the postseason drama of 2003 or 2004, but it still had one team knocking out the other. The only difference last season was that the KO punch came in mid-August, a five-game New York sweep at Fenway. Boston never recovered, finishing in third place.
The Red Sox actually spent more money than the Yankees this offseason. While New York said goodbye to Randy Johnson and Bernie Williams, the Sox said hello to Daisuke Matsuzaka, J.D. Drew, and Julio Lugo. They also spent a decent amount of money to rebuild the bullpen.
It won't happen this weekend, but Matsuzaka will eventually pitch to Hideki Matsui. You think there were a lot of flashbulbs popping when Daisuke pitched to Ichiro? Wait until The Monster throws that first gyroball to Godzilla.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, there's a very real chance that only one of these teams is going to make it to the playoffs. Again. The AL Central and AL West are deeper than ever, and the days of the Sox and Yanks taking the division title and wild card are long gone. No one will win a playoff spot based on these 18 games ... but they might go a long way toward keeping the other team from pulling away with a spot.
One year ago, it seemed this rivalry had lost a lot of its luster. Now, it's back and as big as ever. All eyes will be on the Fens tonight, with Sox pitching lined up to test itself against the best-hitting team in baseball.
Bring it on.
Posted By: tcaron
| Time: 09:20:12 AM | Link