Boston Red Sox New York Yankees Rivalry Renewed – MLB BaseballMonday, May 16, 2011 10:12
After a poor start, the Boston Red Sox have finally hit .500. Will Boston’s resurgence continue, and what is up with the New York Yankees?
Doing so took one-quarter of the schedule, but the pre-season favorite to win the American League pennant, the Boston Red Sox, have finally arrived at .500 (20-20).
Boston had the worst start in the majors, the last squad to win a game. Such perennial cellar dwellers as the Kansas City Royals are currently above .500, and even the Pittsburgh Pirates, who haven’t had a winning season since 1992, were on the plus side as late as early last week (before entering a 5-game losing streak that now has the Bucs at 18-22)
The BoSox had come close before, pulling themselves to one game under on three previous occasion, each time proceeding to lose at least a couple games and sink back again. And each time, assuming the Sox finally did indeed make it over the hump, I intended to write this article about how the division-leading New York Yankees and the other teams in the AL East were failing to take advantage of Boston’s early season woes.
After all, the Sox are simply too talented to have remained in the basement all season, barring multiple key players being decimated by injuries. While it is next to impossible to bury a team in April and May, better play by Boston’s AL East division rivals could have placed the Red Sox in a serious hole that would be much more difficult to surmount.
As it is, now that the Red Sox are at .500, they are tied for third place, only 3 games back, in a very tight division (even last place Baltimore is only 3.5 back).
Oh, and the Tampa Bay Rays now lead the division, not the Yankees.
That’s where things grow interesting. Not that the Rays are playing poorly right now–quite the contrary–but that the Yankees are most definitely not playing well. The Bronx Bombers are still one game up on the Red Sox, in second place in the AL East, but the Yanks are 3-7 in their last ten games and currently in the midst of a 5-game losing streak, all at home, that includes a 3-game sweep at the hands of the Red Sox.
Nothing sounds the alarm bells in New York more than a home sweep by Boston.
In the past, while infuriating to Yankee fans, such a stretch would not have been much over which to worry. But this year? The Yankees are showing their age. Several of their stars, notably Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada, simply can’t perform up to the level to which they are accustomed as they face the inevitable decline of all athletes in the twilights of their careers. Even Mariano Rivera, although still one of the top relievers in the game, looks somewhat more human.
Couple that with the fact that, outside of CC Sabathia, the Yankees’ starting pitching staff leaves a lot to be desired, and perhaps there is real reason for alarm in New York.
The season is still young, of course, and anything can happen. It’s hard to think that both these teams will not be in the mix somehow at the end of the year. The operating words for both franchises are rebuild and retool. The Sox have done so, adding Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez. Early season struggles and growing pains aside, they have a talented and young enough squad to be viable for years to come. It may be time, however, for the Yanks to start cutting ties with their aging stars. Ultimately, there are only so many glaring holes that high-cost free agents can fix if the core group of players is past its prime–especially when those expensive bandaids are themselves already mid-career or later.
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