BOSTON (CBS) — At various times throughout baseball history, the rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees — and, of course, their accompanying fan bases — has run as hot as possible. Other times, the fire has lain dormant.
Certainly, the past few years have been a bit quiet. The Yankees won a World Series in 2009 and maintained a playoff team for the three years that followed; the Red Sox missed the playoffs in those three seasons, bottoming out with Bobby Valentine in 2012.
In 2013, the Red Sox roared back to life with a World Series win, but it came in a season when the Yankees finished in third place for just the second time since the dynasty years. The two teams won a combined one playoff game from 2014-16.
Last year, things started to move back to normal, as the Sox fended off the Yankees for the AL East crown as the two teams sniped at each other via social media. But it was the Yankees who lasted longer in the postseason, pushing the eventual-champion Astros to a seventh game in the ALCS.
Then the Yankees went out and added the most prolific hitter in baseball. The Red Sox added somebody who’s not too far behind.
Are those two moves enough to bring the rivalry back to full force?
“It’s a big pickup for the Sox. I think it gives them the power to go up against the Yankees. And face it: power is the big thing now in baseball,” WBZ-TV’s Dan Roche said. “I think everybody wants [the rivalry] back. As you look at both teams, the strength of the Red Sox is [Chris] Sale, [David] Price out of the chute, to go along with [Rick] Porcello. You hope that’s their strength, which led them to 93 wins last year. But the Yankees, their strength is that back-to-the-1920s with the Ruth and the Gehrig type of lineup, with [Giancarlo] Stanton and [Gary] Sanchez and [Brett] Gardner leading off. They’re good one through nine. So it should make the rivalry good once again here, and we should have fun with it.”
There remain a number of unknowns, like how first-year managers Alex Cora and Aaron Boone will perform, and of course the ever-present risk of injury. But as the two teams kick off their spring training slate of games, it appears as though 2018 could start feeling a little bit like 2003.
“Martinez is going to be a big factor in what I think is going to be sort of a restoration of the rivalry between the Red Sox and the Yankees, because it has kind of gone dormant over the past five, six years,” CBS Boston’s Michael Hurley said. “You look across the diamond, and there’s a lot of matchups that are really intriguing. You have Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge out in right field. You’ve got Giancarlo Stanton, who might hit 70 home runs this year, and J.D. Martinez [at DH]. I feel like it’s back. I feel like finally, we might start to finally get that feeling back when the Red Sox play the Yankees. … It should be fun. Now it feels like it could get a little bit fierce.”