The Yankees and the Red Sox have history with one another, if you haven’t heard. It’s filled with beef, humiliation, crushed dreams, and broken spirits. It’s called The Rivalry or #TheRivalry if you’re on the Twitter. Good for you if you’re not. This heated rivalry was pretty one-sided on the pinstriped side for a good decade or eight. Now’s it’s even. Now it’s back. MLB finally has what it wants again.
From the beginning of the season, MLB was excited that both the Red Sox and Yankees would likely be at the top of baseball’s food chain. It’s easy money. It writes headlines. It makes force feeding it to fans on Sunday Night Baseball all the more easier. Here was an opportunity to move past some of the historic rivalry moments that placate every Sunday night these two teams played one another. A season later, and mission accomplished.
The Yankees and Red Sox went back and forth for much of the season. The Red Sox eventually ran away with the division after a crucial four-game sweep in August. Then the Yankees answered back by showcasing the vulnerabilities of the Red Sox pitching staff before their eventual ALDS meeting. If you listened carefully enough on a quiet early October night, you could hear the collective sound of the Yankees & Red Sox beat writers furiously and joyous typing on their laptops.
The only thing that could have made this ALDS matchup more intense is if the Red Sox and Yankees faced each other in the 2017 ALCS. Either way, there they were. No underdogs, despite what both sides will tell you. Just the well-financed, well-run juggernauts of the American League facing one another. You know the results. The Red Sox defeated the Yankees and went on to win the World Series. Lame.
Now here we are in the dreaded offseason. The Yankees have some moves to make. The Red Sox probably do as well. Make no mistake, every trade or free agent signing either team makes this offseason will be looked at through the lens of the rivalry. Listen for those laptop keyboards during the winter meetings, folks.
MLB has both teams exactly where they want them. Barring injury or a random streak of bad baseball, the Yankees and Red Sox will each be the one of the best teams in the majors for a good stretch of time. We will probably see them in the playoffs for years to come, facing one another if MLB is lucky.
The question on my mind is if anyone outside of the Yankees or Red Sox fandom really cares. Sure, the base of both fandoms is far reaching across the country. Next year, we will see it showcased across the pond. Be sure to catch my live reporting from London once Pinstripe Alley and SB Nation pays for me to cover the games live. Just waiting for that e-mail. Any day now.
Pipe dreams aside, I’m not sure if the rest of baseball gives two cents about Park Place and Boardwalk once again having luxurious hotels on their properties. Even after the Red Sox defeated the Dodgers, they still made it about the rivalry:
The Red Sox WENT there.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 29, 2018
Boston played "New York, New York" after winning the World Series. pic.twitter.com/rKnEh6SZD6
There’s a part of me that admittedly appreciates that level of pettiness. When Aaron Judge played it in front of the Red Sox clubhouse at Fenway, I laughed. Either way, this wasted no time getting us all ready for the 2019 rivalry talk. Yay.
As I’ve mentioned before on this site, I’ve been burnt out on this rivalry for a while now. It has nothing to do with the fact that the Red Sox have finally decided to show up to it after a near century. It has to do with the constant over-promotion of it and the two teams facing each other nineteen games a year. Yes, I am aware of the irony of me writing about the rivalry twice in one year just to say how tired of it I am. Don’t try and use it against me.
I just feel that it’s not exactly great for the growth of the sport. Baseball is about competition. There’s no doubt that the Yankees and Red Sox do provide that in abundance, but they cannot be the only ones. Thankfully, they weren’t. As a baseball fan, the Brewers and Cubs battle in the NL Central was far more interesting. The Oakland Athletics nearly taking the AL West was a great surprise.
Baseball needs a lot of help with marketing and promoting its product. It cannot just continue to rely on the rivalry to drum up interest, especially when so many fans out there do not care about two super wealthy teams going toe-to-toe all the time. It’s hard enough for fans to care about their own team when the plan is to tank and possibly be good again in three to eight years. I’d love to meet the PR genius who can market that.
As I said in my previous rivalry rant, it never went away because MLB will never let it go away. Even if they made the schedule more balanced, they will never give up the gold mine of the Yankees and Red Sox facing each other nineteen games a year. It doesn’t matter whether one team is excellent and another is trash. All that matters is the marketing. The 2018 baseball season gave MLB everything they wanted from it.
Having said all of this, as revolted as I am that it is so heavily shoved in my face, even I will admit that it did feel newer and fresher than ever before. Of course, that has everything to do with the newer, fresher players. Aaron Judge and Mookie Betts definitely helped by leading the way. In 2017, Aaron Judge was the Rookie of the Year and a potential MVP. This year, Mookie Betts is an MVP candidate. MLB couldn’t ask for better ambassadors. Not just for the rivalry, but for baseball as a whole.
Still though, please get new rivalries to bluster on about, MLB. If not MLB, then at the very least give the Brewers and Cubs more ESPN Sunday Night Baseball games. That’s not too much to ask, is it?