On the surface, the Rays vs. the Yankees looks like a clash of Titans. The two best teams in baseball going head to head... whoever wins tonight will be in first place by themselves with the best record in the bigs.
Each team is throwing their Cy Young candidate. Sabathia vs. Price.
Each team is coming off of recent losses where their bullpen coughed it up and will be looking to right the ship.
This is an EPIC showdown... right?
I'm not sure. It will be fun, no doubt, but what is on the line?
Neither team is going home for October... at least not without an epic collapse. And even WITH an epic collapse, it will take a big winning streak from the Sox to take advantage of it. (Red or White, it doesn't matter.)
So basically this is a battle for pride of winning the Division.
Remember how or the Braves beat the Mets for the 2000 Division?
Or the A's beat the Angels for 2002 Division?
Or the Diamondbacks beat the Giants for their 2002 Division?
Or the Braves beat the Marlins for the 2003 Division?
Or the Red Sox beat the Yankees for the 2004 Division?
Or the Astros beat the Cardinals for the 2005 Division?
Or the Twins beat the Tigers for the 2006 Division?
Or the Diamondbacks beat the Rockies for the 2007 Division?
OF COURSE YOU DON'T!
Because the team that lost the Division in each of those years won the pennant. Which would you rather see? A Division Title or a World Series appearance?
Maybe this is a series to determine momentum going into the playoffs and get the match up you want.
I remember in 2002, the New York papers showed a special standings following how the A's and Yankees compared. The Yankees were the 4 time defending A.L. Champs. The A's were a dynamic team that won 20 straight at one point.
It was clear that the ALCS was going to be an Oakland/New York showdown.
The two teams had met in the Division Series the previous two years and they were both 5 game thrillers.
Giambi defected to New York but the A's were somehow stronger.
The A's/Yankees ALCS was shaping up to be one of the great match ups... and the question in the regular season was which team was going to have home field advantage.
The Yankees finished the season with one fewer loss than the A's and captured home field for the clash. The Division Series that year were a mere formality. (The Yankees were playing the anonymous Wild Card Angels and the A's took on the "Happy to be there after being threatened with contraction the year before" Twins).
Do you remember what happened in the ALCS that year?
Neither the A's nor the Yankees made it out of the first round... and the Angels and Twins played for the AL Pennant.
All the posturing was for naught.
So have fun watching the series this week.
It should be fun... but this match up won't be meaningful until it is played NEXT month.