Thursday, April 10, 2008

Sorry rest of the baseball world... It's Red Sox vs. Yankees time again!

Last year I made it clear that the Red Sox/Yankees rivalry is just better than the other baseball rivalries and everyone else just has to deal with it.

I stand by that.

And tomorrow the Yankees go to Fenway to play the Red Sox.
I'm sorry, let me correct myself...
Tomorrow the Yankees go to Fenway to play the Defending World Champion Boston Red Sox.
That's better.

And yeah, neither team is off to a blazing start at 5-5... but please. If the Orioles win the Division I will buy you a house.

And by "you" I mean anyone currently reading this blog.

When the rivalry reached its breaking point between 2003-2005.

With the rivalry already rich in history, tradition and venom, think about the chapters added just 5 years ago that are already legendary:

- Pedro throwing Zimmer to the ground
- Grady leaving Pedro in too long
- Aaron Boone extending the curse another year
- The race to get A-Rod
- Jeter flying into the stands in that wonderful extra inning game
- The Varitek/A-Rod brawl game ending with Bill Meuller's walk off against Mariano
- Pedro declaring the Yankees to be his daddy
- The Yankees winning 19-8 in Fenway to take a 3-0 lead
- 3 outs from a sweep, Roberts steals and scores on Meuller's hit... Papi's walk off in extras
- 6 outs from elimination, Sox rally back and Papi wins it again in 14
- Schilling's bloody sock
- A-Rod slaps the ball from Arroyo's glove
- Johnny Damon's grand slam blows open the clinching game in the Bronx
- The Red Sox get their rings in front of the visiting Yankees
- Yankees and Red Sox finish 2005 tied... but the Yankees are the Division Champs because of the 10-9 head to head record
- Johnny Damon defects to the Yankees in the off season.

Hey Cubs and Cardinals fans... list that many memorable moments of your rivalry!

For us, that's only going back to the start of the Iraq war.

Now I know the rest of baseball hates us (yes Red Sox fans... people hate us now) because our teams tend to gobble up all the big players.

They have a point and I have another list.

Here are players added to the Yankees starting in 2003:
Hideki Matsui
Alex Rodriguez
Gary Sheffield
Tom Gordon
Kevin Brown
Javier Vasquez
Randy Johnson
Carl Pavano
Jaret Wright
Johnny Damon
Bobby Abreu

And that's not including Roger Clemens and Andy Pettite, who left and came back for big bucks.

But Red Sox fans shouldn't get smug about the Yankees free spending.

The faces added to the Sox starting in 2003:
David Ortiz
Kevin Millar
Bill Meuller
Curt Schilling
Keith Foulke
Edgar Renteria
Matt Clement
David Wells
Josh Beckett
Mike Lowell
Daisuke Matsusaka
Hideki Okajima
J. D. Drew
Julio Lugo

And of course this doesn't include big buck free agents Manny Ramirez (signed before 2001) and Johnny Damon (signed before 2002)

So yeah, both teams are guilty as charged of stockpiling other people's stars.
Granted not all of the moves worked, but they have enough dough to absorb the Kevin Browns and Matt Clements of the world.

I have no sympathy for Red Sox fans who whine about the Yankee spending.
We're an Evil Empire too. It's what we wanted... revel in it!

Well guess what?
Just when you thought the rivalry couldn't get better/more annoying... behold the new direction of the Yankees and the Defending World Champion Boston Red Sox:

We're growing our own stars now!
No more mercenaries!
I loved the 2004 team more than any baseball team in my life... but let's face it, they were mercenaries.

Now a home grown Red Sox team is slowly rising led by Kevin Youkilis, a product of the farm system, and the Captain Jason Varitek, who was drafted by Seattle but has spent his entire big league career in Boston.

And the Yankees have their stable veterans, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera.

And those veterans are looking over a batch of young talent that should bring about debates for the next generation.

Who is better?
Dustin Pedroia or Robinson Cano?
Jacoby Ellsbury or Melky Cabrera?
Jonathan Papelbon or Joba Chamberlain?
Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester or Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy?

Shortstop Jed Lowrie is on the World Champion Boston Red Sox roster going into this weekend and Yankee outfielder Austin Jackson won't be far behind.

The debates can even seep into players from the Orient...
Which ace is better?
Daisuke Matsusaka or Ching Mein Wang?
And who will win when Francona brings in Hideki Okajima to face Hideki Matsui.

Sure both teams will still have their imported stars.
Hell, both teams MVP candidates (David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez) were swiped from other teams.

But the prospect of both teams building the next great rivalry teams from the ground up and using their dough to keep them together is so great that I don't care if it pisses the rest of baseball off.

One big difference from the rivalry now and the teams of the past:
No matter how great the Red Sox players were, Yankee fans always had the simple retort of "No Ring."

Williams vs DiMaggio and Mantle? Williams was good... no ring.
Rice, Yaz, Lynn and Evans vs. Reggie, Piniella, Rivers and Chambliss?
Sox were more talented... no rings.
Fisk vs. Munson? Munson career was cut short and he still had the rings!
Clemens and Boggs? They needed to go to the Yankees to get their rings.

Cue the 1918 chant.

Well Papelbon, Lester, Buccholz, Ellsbury, Pedroia, Matsusaka and Okajima all got theirs.
Youkilis and Varitek got their second rings.

And the Yankees haven't won a playoff series since Dave Roberts stole second.

The Rivalry has a new dynamic in the 21st century (with the Red Sox leading 2-1 in titles).

It's going to be good.
Deal with it, rest of baseball.

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