The Boston Red Sox were on an absolute tear a little more than a week ago and their rival New York Yankees were faltering. Now, the tables have turned and the Yankees are back in first place by half a game.
With the recent ESPN “30 for 30” about the Boston Celtics versus Los Angeles Lakers rivalry, fans began thinking back to all the Boston rivalries; Bruins-Canadiens, Patriots and all of football and, of course, Red Sox-Yankees.
Ever since the first game at Fenway Park, when the Sox beat the New York Highlanders, later renamed the “Yankees,” the Big Apple and Beantown have been at each other’s throats. The 86 years of curses and the added hatred culminated to today’s Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge clash.
Today’s teams don’t necessarily hate each other with the same passion as they did in 2004, but the two stars made up two thirds of the American League’s All-Star Game outfield. As two of the best players in baseball with Hall of Fame hopes, this pair seems similar to David Ortiz and Derek Jeter.
Jeter and Ortiz were two of the best players in their day and now the probable Rookie of the Year and last year’s second in the American League Most Valuable Player voting are rekindling that heat.
Both players are the top ten in several categories of statistics including runs scored, hits and doubles. Judge leads the AL in home runs, slugging and OPS. The only player visibly better than both of them is the Houston Astros’ second baseman, Jose Altuve, who leads in hits, doubles, batting average and on-base percentage.
Clearly, the skill of Betts and Judge can only be matched a future Hall of Famer, such as the 5’6” athlete.
Being the best in baseball is what kept the Sox-Bronx rivalry strong for the last 105 years since that game against the Highlanders when the Sox won 7-6 in 11 innings. Babe Ruth’s being traded for cash, Ted Williams-Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio rivalries, Bucky Dent-Aaron Boone, Alex Rodriguez slapping the ball out Bronson Arroyo’s glove and 2004 Boston comeback all led to the current Judge versus Betts clash.
The Yankees trade deadline deal of earlier today to nab Sonny Gray from the Oakland Athletics may give the Pinstripes an edge in this postseason run, but the BoSox Eduardo Nunez, Rafael Devers and Doug Fister paid off in recent games. The Boston Squad and the Bronx Bombers both have their ways of winning, but their continued strife and their fight makes them two of the best teams in today’s Major League Baseball and in MLB’s history.
Betts and Judge next face off in New York from Thursday, August 31 to Sunday, September 3 and that will be their last contest before the playoffs.