For the first time in fourteen years, the Red Sox and Yankees matched up in a playoff series. The result was much the same as it was back in 2004, with the Red Sox winning, and eliminating the Yankees in New York.
However, what happened after that last matchup is unlikely to occur again. For many years, it seemed like the best rivalry in baseball was dormant. This time around, it feels like the rivalry is back, and there may be many more great playoff battles in the near future.
This was a season full of tense moments between the two teams. Back in April, Joe Kelly and Tyler Austin sparked a bench clearing brawl at Fenway Park. The bad blood carried into the middle of the season when Yankees general manager, Brian Cashman, stated that his team was the only one in the league who could “do damage” to the Red Sox.
The back and forth continued in the playoffs, where after the Yankees won game 2, outfielder Aaron Judge played “New York New York” on a boombox while walking past the Red Sox locker room. After clinching the series, the Red Sox returned the favor, playing the song, while popping champagne in the visitors locker room of Yankee Stadium.
After the 4-3 loss in game four of the ALDS on Tuesday night, some changes are on the way for the Yankees. The game’s starting pitcher, CC Sabathia, is a free agent, and with him turning 39 during next season, it is unlikely he will be back. Additionally, Brett Gardner, the longest tenured Yankee, has also likely played his last game in pinstripes, as the team would need to pick up a 12.5 million dollar option to retain him.
The Yankees will likely give a second season to manager Aaron Boone, whose decisions on when to take pitchers out of games in the series will be scrutinized all offseason. Joining him next season will be a more experienced and hungrier group of players. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius will all be healthy at the start, and the team could look to add pieces in big name free agents such as Manny Machado or Bryce Harper.
It isn’t as clear what the Red Sox will do in the offseason to respond to any blockbuster Yankee moves, as they still have potentially two playoff series to play and are still in contention for a World Series title.
However, the Red Sox are also young. Players like Mookie Betts, Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts are in the middle of experiencing their first real postseason success. The changes the Red Sox make will likely be less drastic, probably re-signing players who are nearing the end of their contracts before free agency, and solidifying the bullpen that nearly cost them two games against the Yankees.
The most recent chapter of the Red Sox and Yankees rivalry turned out in favor of Boston. In the coming years, expect many more battles between the two teams, likely with playoff and World Series spots on the line. For now, fans of both teams can now safely say, the rivalry is back.