Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What If the Yankees & Red Sox Took a Year Off from the Rivalry in 2009?

After a century of bean balls, fist fights, blood, sweat, tears, and captivating theater, the Yankees and Red Sox have cemented themselves as the best rivalry in MLB.

Even the most dedicated and hardest workers need a vacation, however, and perhaps the rivalry could use a temporary hiatus for rest and convalescence.

The question must be asked: what if the 2009 baseball season had been chosen for Yanks-Sox prohibition?

What if Bud Selig had arisen before Opening Day and awkwardly waved his hands in confusion like the 2002 All-Star game—effectively putting the east coast conflict into hibernation until 2010?

Anyone who has even casually followed the American League over the last four months is well-educated in New York’s embarrassing effort when confronted by Red Sox Nation.

The Yankees are 0-for-8 in those games—a stat line normally reserved for Robinson Cano’s RISP skills as opposed to an interdivisional record.

Regardless of their rivalry no-show, New York somehow still sits atop the American League East standings at 56-37, while Boston stands one game back at 55-38.

If Commissioner Selig had forbidden the two from squaring off in 2009, the Yankees would currently have a record of 56-29. Boston, meanwhile, would fall to just 47-38.

Though a seemingly irrelevant concept, it is very intriguing to look at each team’s performance against the rest of the league.

The Yankees have a winning percentage of .659 against anyone not named Boston, which is on pace to collect an amazing 107 wins over a full 162 game season.

The Red Sox are playing .550 baseball against the rest of the league, which accounts for just 89 wins over a full season.

Normally these records should be thrown out without much afterthought, but they are of importance to Yankee fans across the globe.

A betting man would not put his paycheck down on New York finishing 0-for-18 in the rivalry. A reasonable expectation would be for the teams to split down the stretch, with each grabbing five of the 10 remaining games.

What this means is Boston has likely cashed out its winnings for 2009, unable to make up more ground in head-to-head competition.

Even while crushing the Yankees into a bloody and dejected pulp, the Red Sox can still be seen from New York’s rearview mirror.

If both teams played equal baseball against the rest of the league down the stretch, the Yankees would still win the AL East title even if Boston finished the season series 13-5.

With neither team looking to make game-changing moves at the July 31 trading deadline, it appears as though no one will have the luxury of taking their foot off the pedal for the final weeks of the season.

Expect the Tampa Bay Rays to play a major role in the final months of the divisional race, as the Yankees and Red Sox have 18 combined games remaining with them (NY 10, BOS 8)

New York is 4-4 against the Rays thus far in 2008, while Boston is 4-6. Whichever team performs better against them down the stretch will have a big advantage—provided that they do come close to splitting the remaining 10 head-to-head games.

Yankees Universe may wish in the back of their heads that the rivalry was postponed for the duration of 2009, but they still rest atop the American League on July 22.

All things considered, New York and its formerly frustrated fan base have to feel very fortunate and blessed to be in this position.

Now it is time to step up and at least split a four game series from August 6-9 at Yankee Stadium against their hated rival.

The baseball gods have given them a gift, and it is time to send out a thank you card.

1 comment:

  1. I thought the Yankees were taking the year off from the rivalry and just letting the Sox beat them every game.


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