There’s no such thing as a capital-B Big series in April, especially for the Red Sox. This has nothing to do with the team, but rather the circumstances and the attention of the Boston sports fan, particularly this year. The Celtics and Bruins are both about to start their playoff runs, and both are top seeds in their respective conferences. (Yes, I know about the Celtics’ injuries and I’d prefer not to discuss that, thank you.) The Patriots are always in the news, and April in particular is busy with the NFL draft. It’s not that the Red Sox are put on the back-burner — they’re never truly shut out from conversation — but there’s too much going on in the Boston sports scene for an early-season series to ever take the attention of the city. If that theory were ever to be disproven, it would be this week when the Yankees come into Fenway with the hometown team entering the series riding an eight-game win streak with both teams being projected as 90+ win teams. The takes following this series are going to be en fuego, and there is a 100 percent chance that whatever happens over the next three days is going to be blown completely out of proportion. Generally speaking, this would bother the shit out of me. But in this case, I don’t care. I am so ready for this rivalry to be back, and I’m way more excited for this series than I have any business being about any April series.
Back in October, I talked about how ready I was for this rivalry to be back after kind of growing tired of the whole Red Sox-Yankees thing in recent years. It’s been a while since these teams have really been in direct competition at the same point in their competitive window, ya know? That post came before the Yankees went out and traded for Giancarlo Stanton, too, and that move only added to the intrigue considering what it did for New York’s perception around the league and among experts. After that deal was made, and after they went deeper into the postseason last year, the Yankees were looked at as not-unanimous favorites but certainly undisputed favorites to win the American League East, despite the fact that the Red Sox had won two years in a row and were returning the same core for the third consecutive season. I can deal with the Yankees being favorites, though. That is not what has me excited here, as I’ve had to do enough predictions to know that most people who do predictions don’t actually want to be doing it. No, what has me all ready to hate the Yankees again — at least to the extent that I did a decade ago — is that people are calling them likable. Can you believe that? People that aren’t Yankees fans like the Yankees. It’s disgusting, and I am ready to fight the powers that be to change this perception. (Note that I also acknowledge it would be weird for non-Red Sox fans to ever like the Red Sox.)
So, yeah, this series is going to be a lot of fun and the rare time when I and many others are going to be truly amped about a series in April. It gets even better when you consider the sexy-as-hell pitching matchups we’re going to see. Aces will be matched up on Tuesday with Chris Sale against Luis Severino. Ace-caliber number twos face off on Wednesday with David Price vs. Masahiro Tanaka. Rick Porcello and Sonny Gray aren’t up to that caliber, but they are both solid and underrated.
This series would be exciting even without these pitching matchups, though. As I said above, these teams are in the same contention window, but it’s not just that. They are similar up and down their roster, and it’s why this division should be so closely contested all year long and why every time they play will be so closely watched. Just look at all of their players and you’ll see the similarities.
Both teams are led by young right fielders who figure to be the face of their respective franchises for the next decade. Both rosters welcomed elite-level sluggers to the roster in major offseason acquisitions. The Red Sox have Chris Sale and the Yankees have a guy who could very well be the next Chris Sale, as soon as this year. Both rotations have number twos who have pitched like aces in the past but also have elbow questions. Both teams have number threes (Drew Pomeranz and Sonny Gray) who have failed to live up to early-career expectations but have turned into solid and underrated starters. Both teams have young lefties with big upside at the back of their rotations with Eduardo Rodriguez and Jordan Montgomery. Both teams have center fielders who were disappointing top prospects before unexpectedly breaking out at the plate. Both teams have elite closers who are the rare relievers that consistently perform year in and year out. They obviously aren’t perfectly analogous rosters — the Red Sox don’t have a Gary Sanchez counterpart and the Yankees don’t have their own Rafael Devers — but they are similar rosters in similar spots.
Anyway, I don’t really have a point with this post other than to say I am psyched as hell for the next three days. I’m jealous of everyone who is going to be at Fenway, as the park is going to be as electric as it’s been in a non-playoff scenario in years. Red Sox-Yankees is back, and for as much or as little the local baseball team has fallen in the eyes of the overall Boston sports scene, there’s nothing in this city that can replace a peak Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. I’m so ready for the 19 games these teams are going to play this season, and particularly the three that are coming up this week.