A lot of fans in the Northeast like to think the baseball world revolves around the Northeast, and fans from other parts of the country like to lament that the mainstream media seems to support that idea. That’s not the case right now with focus turning west for this Astros-Dodgers World Series. To put it another way, neither the Red Sox nor the Yankees are playing for the title this year. Ostensibly, this means that both teams have work to do as they work towards their ultimate goal. Since New York made it farther into the postseason than Boston this year, the narrative is that they are closer to championship-quality. Perhaps that’s true. Perhaps it’s not. I really have no idea, and I’m not positive we can extrapolate that kind of hard stance just based on a single postseason run. Either way, that’s not what I want to talk about today. I do want to talk about something that I do know: I am psyched for the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry, and that hasn’t really been true for almost ten years now.
The reason for being excited about the rivalry moving forward is pretty simple. Both teams are set up to be very good for the foreseeable future. The Yankees have the possible MVP and the definite Rookie of the Year in Aaron Judge. It’s true that he strikes out a lot and it sure is fun to make fun of that, but the truth is he is a monster in the middle of their lineup who is also an underrated fielder in right field. He’s going to be an issue for years to come. Gary Sanchez is also a monster who provides offense from the worst hitting position in the league. Luis Severino somehow put forth a legitimately great season without anyone noticing, and Didi Gregorius turned into a tremendous hitter for a knack for coming through in the clutch. All of these players are young and improving, and when you also think about the Yankees’ spending power you start to get overwhelmed by their potential.
Of course, the Red Sox have a few things going for them as well. We just saw what seems like the worst-case scenario type of season for Mookie Betts and he was still one of the better and more well-rounded players in all of baseball. If he plays like we know he can, he is a perennial MVP candidate and likely the best player on either side. Chris Sale is still in his prime and still arguably the best pitcher in the American League. Andrew Benintendi put forth a solid rookie year and will be a presence at the top of Boston’s lineup for years to come. Rafael Devers was totally unfazed after being called up to a pennant race as a 20 year old and could be the organization’s next great power hitter. Then you have Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley, who have been inconsistent but have huge ceilings, and the Red Sox have a terrifying core that is still growing together. What I’m saying is that both teams are good, okay?
One of the big themes of this postseason, and particularly of the League Championship Series, was how likeable the Yankees are. They have a lot of fun on the field, they play a fun style of baseball and they don’t look like your typical Yankees squad. The baseball world was falling over themselves to remind everyone how fun this Yankees team was. I had two thoughts on this. For one thing, objectively speaking, they were right. The team was fun to watch and probably will be for a long time. Secondly, they were absolutely wrong, because no Yankees team can be likeable. The more I heard it, the more I realized how much I was sick of hearing it and how much I wanted them to lose. For the first time in forever, I totally and irrationally hated the Yankees, and it felt so good.
There’s been a stretch lately when, at least for me, I just couldn’t bring myself to hate the Yankees all that much. Don’t get me wrong, of course I still wanted them to lose all the time, but there wasn’t this visceral, inescapable urge to see bad things happen to them on the field. I don’t know if it was simply boredom or the fact that the Red Sox and Yankees haven’t both been really good at the same time in a while, but some other AL East teams took the mantle of most hated team on a temporary basis. That period is over.
Baseball, at least for those of us up in this corner of the Northeast, is so much better when both the Red Sox and Yankees appear they’ll be good for a long time. While anything can happen, it’s inarguable that both teams have phenomenal cores and the type of deep pockets to help supplement that core. It’s going to be a fun few years for this rivalry, but it’s important to remember one thing: The Yankees aren’t likeable. They’re the goddamn Yankees and they’re the most hateable team in the league.