Oftentimes, it is said you don’t truly appreciate something until it’s gone. Well, in the case of the Red Sox and Yankees rivalry the past couple years, it’s hard not to appreciate if you’re a fan of either team.
The games between the two are second to none in baseball. The crowd cheers a little louder. A strikeout in the first inning that may seem meaningless in other games could send the crowd into a frenzy. Spectacular catches, big hits and home runs are almost expected, yet no less exciting. As much as chants such as “Yankees suck” and “Boston sucks” are uttered, deep down the crowds know the other team is actually very good.
Though it had been relatively dormant since the days of the 2004 ALCS, the competition between the two has been revitalized with young talent on both sides. Names like Betts, Benintendi, and Devers for the Sox and Judge, Severino, and Sanchez for the Yankees have replaced the likes of Big Papi and Manny, Arod and Jeter.
While baseball may not be as popular as it used to be, that doesn’t make the division races of this year and last year any less fascinating to the avid fans of both sides. To give an idea of just how special the two teams are this year, here are some quick facts:
- Both teams have had 17-1 stretches at some point this year, something no other team in the MLB has done thus far and something both teams hadn’t done in the same year until now.
- The teams are numbers 1 (Red Sox) and 3 (Yankees) in the league in runs scored, numbers 2 (Red Sox) and 3 (Yankees) in run differential, and numbers 1 (Red Sox) and 2 (Yankees) in winning percentage. The list could go on in regards to those league wide stats.
- Since May 1, the Red Sox and Yankees have been separated by 2.5 games or less (the Red Sox are currently 2.5 games ahead of the Yankees but only one loss separates the two).
- The Red Sox were the first team to get to 25 wins this year, with the Yankees right behind them two days later (May 6 and May 8 respectively). The last time the two were the first to 25 wins was 1994.
- The season series, currently 5-4 Yankees, is as close as it can get.
- They are doing all this with first year managers
As you can see, there are some pretty compelling stats between the two teams. An avid baseball fan or not, it is easy to see just how good both teams are with even just a cursory look at any stats.
With the Sox having won the division in both 2016 and 2017, they have proven they are a real threat to the Yankees if they want to get to and win the World Series. It is fun to know that they are keeping an eye out for what the other is doing each night or day as they play their own games (unless it is one of the 19 times they play each other).
There is almost an assumption by both that the other is going to go out there and win, so the levels of play by both teams are elevated. As I watched the Red Sox last night, I heard Sox player Brock Holt explain how if the teams were in another division, they most likely would have it wrapped up by now. That is not the case, however, with them both being in the same division playing at a level only the Houston Astros are matching.
All stats and numbers aside, both teams are very fun to watch. Yes, I do admit I enjoy watching the Yankees play. Players like Aaron Judge and Didi Gregorious are likeable guys, not only because of how they look like they are just out there having fun on the field, but because they do things like comedy skits surprising fans around the city. Having been to both ballparks numerous times (Fenway much more, of course), the atmospheres of both have special feels to them. For the first time in a long time, both fanbases are legitimately excited about their teams knowing they have a real shot at winning it all.
With the All Star break, the unofficial halfway mark of the MLB season, around the corner, the Red Sox and Yankees sit 2 and 3 with 16 and 14 percent chances respectively to win the World Series according to Five Thirty Eight. The only team with a better chance is the defending champion Houston Astros.
While some Red Sox fans may feel differently, I have to admit I am in some ways glad the Yankees have as good a team as they do. It certainly has piqued my interest more than recent years and brought back memories of old. With the two teams playing 3 games at Fenway to end the year, it really could come down to the wire, and there is a real possibility the two could meet in the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. Even the most nervous of nervous nelly fans wouldn’t have a problem with that.