What a difference a week makes.
Last Monday, the Yankees and Red Sox took in a rare day off in August—separated by a mere half game in the AL East standings.
Since that day, New York has caught fire while Boston’s offense has shriveled up like a slug dropped into a salt shaker.
A six game losing streak by manager Terry Francona’s crew leaves them 6.5 games back in the standings on August 10, and the sand in the hourglass is beginning to get shallow.
What took place in the rivalry’s most recent confrontation cannot be deemed a “Boston Massacre” like those occurring during the 1978 and 2006 seasons.
The Red Sox pitched beautifully over the series’ final three games, and would have earned a split if they could have borrowed some of the “luck of the Irish” from a proud population of shamrocked hearts in the city of Boston.
The Yankees simply caught the Red Sox at the ideal time, and were able to benefit from the absence (whether mentally or physically) of their rival’s best offensive weapons.
It is important to understand that the Red Sox are not the team that was just mercilessly swept out of the stadium—just as the Yankees were clearly not the team that lost eight straight games to the Red Sox to begin 2009.
The most important aside of the extended weekend was not necessarily the results of the games themselves, but the atmosphere in which they were played.
Water cooler discussions and talk radio segments have spent time and energy highlighting the stark differences in intensity and electricity at the new ballpark—as opposed to its immortal ancestor across the street.
Many of these findings were warranted, though most were also vastly exaggerated.
April and May matchups with teams like Baltimore and Cleveland seemed to doom the stadium’s perception from the get-go, with writers and analysts looking for a way to bring seat pricing issues to the forefront.
What was seemingly forgotten is what originally built the reputation of “The House that Ruth Built.”
The prestige was founded on a history of 26 World Series victories. It evolved from a Petri dish of countless October memories that leaped over the miraculous and into an entirely new category of adjective.
The new stadium could not rightfully be judged on games that had nothing riding on them but momentum or frustration. It had to be given a chance to create a true “experience” at the right time.
That moment manifested itself as a key four game series this past Thursday through Sunday.
Evoking a true playoff atmosphere for the duration of the extended weekend, Yankee Stadium transformed from a simple feeling of familiarity into a warm and cozy “home sweet home.”
The bolts of the still youthful stadium seats were tested by the vibrations that emanated from the loud cheers of a crowd left in pure ecstasy.
The imposing walls of the majestic structure shook like Jose Mesa at the sight of a save situation, and the stadium itself was packed tightly with spectators like a Jonas Brothers farewell concert.
Witnessing the standing ovation extended to CC Sabathia after his masterful Saturday afternoon performance sent chills up and down my spine, and admittedly covered his skin in an army of goose bumps.
It may have taken five months of walk-offs, pie attacks, and record-setting home run totals, but Yankee Stadium gave more than a taste of what playoff baseball will feel like inside of its newest Bronx location.
An old saying correctly states that “home is where the heart is,” and the Yankees left theirs out on the field over the last four games.
Yankees Universe can begin to unpack its belongings and remove its coat, because the stadium’s confines no longer feel like a temporary address.