At some indefinite point last season, something changed—or rather, something was revived. For most of the previous five-plus seasons, the greatest rivalry in American sports had taken a bit of vacation. One team dominated while the other had a rare down-year, trash-talk was kept to a whisper, brawls were nearly nonexistent.
Last season, however, the unparalleled rivalry between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox came roaring back to life, and this season has only brought it up a notch. Everything that has always made the series great has returned, including the playful-yet-deeply-personal back and forth between rival fan bases.
With 208 wins between the two teams, it’s only fair that they meet one last time in the postseason. Perhaps it’s a little anticlimactic that it’s only a five-game series, and whichever team wins the series will still need to win another to get to the World Series, but we certainly can’t complain.
Despite a triple-digit figure in the win column, the Yankees found themselves in the Wild Card game for the second-straight season. After a win over the Athletics on Wednesday night, the Bombers now travel to Boston with a trip to the ALCS on the line.
A brief side note: My condolences to the Oakland Athletics, who had an incredible season dashed away by a single nine-inning ballgame. The one-game Wild Card format is certainly exciting, but it simply doesn’t do justice to a team’s effort throughout the 162-game season, especially when divisions are as lopsided as they were this year. Going 97-65 (as Oakland did) warrants a trip to the ALDS, not winning the pathetic AL Central (as the Indians did). But since I’ve already rented out a 1300-word column on that topic last year, I’ll move on.
Win counts aside, these teams have been on a postseason collision course from the very start. The season series began with the Sox absolutely embarrassing the Yanks on April 10, winning 14-1. The very next day, Boston reliever Joe Kelly plunked Tyler Austin in retaliation for a questionable slide earlier in the game. Austin charged the mound, benches emptied, and it was suddenly quite clear that the rivalry was very much alive and well.
The rest of the way, the teams were as even as it gets when playing head-to-head, with Boston narrowly taking the season series 10-9. Interestingly, however, the games themselves often weren’t all that competitive. Of the 19 meetings, nine were decided by five or more runs. Starting pitchers have been consistently rocked by the two potent offenses. Boston swept a four-game series in early August, and the Yankees took four of the last six. In summary, no one really knows how this series will go—other than that it’ll probably take years off my life.