Yankees and Red Sox not where they want to be

Rich Mancuso

Call it the wrong time of year or a matter of both teams not being where they want to be. But the Yankees and Boston Red Sox begin a late June three-game series in the Bronx tonight and does anyone really care?  In many ways the two teams still have a lot riding on the series with half a season left to play.

However, with the Yankees struggling to find themselves in a mediocre American League east, and the defending champion Red Sox, 36-43, a team of streaks, are not going away so fast. There will be a statement made in the Bronx the next three nights. The question is who will benefit after the three game series?

It never mattered what time of year when these two teams got together. A three-game series always meant something, and it still does to the fans of both teams who have also made this one of the most interesting and compelling rivalries in sports. But, we all know the Yankees are not the Yankees, and the Red Sox were the team of 2013 that went from last to first.

It used to be the hottest ticket in town, and finding a way into Yankee Stadium for a game against the hated Red Sox was a mission in itself. As of Friday morning, there were many prime seats still available, though by game time Yankee Stadium on a Friday summer evening will be full to capacity.

Or, the enthusiasm of the Yankees and Red Sox in the Bronx is overshadowed with the soccer World Cup and talk about the next destination for Carmelo Anthony. Either way, there is minimal hype and less talk about the significance of two teams meting again with so much history between them.

You ask a Yankees fan: Does it matter that the hated Red Sox are in town? They say, the rivalry has lost meaning. Combined with the mediocrity angle there is still the sympathetic attitude and bonding of two cities following the tragic events of the Boston Marathon bombing.

And believe this if you want to, the Red Sox and Yankees fans at both ballparks have developed that bond of sportsmanship. The booing is not as intense and the players hardly recall the days of when Pedro Martinez said “The Yankees are my Daddy.”

Though, Jacoby Ellsbury heard his share of boos up at Fenway in late April. He is the latest Red Sox player that went for the money and was wearing Yankees pinstripes in a ballpark he used to call home.  

The late Don Zimmer, shoved to the ground by Martinez, during a nasty Fenway Park Yankees-Red Sox brawl, was reminisced a few weeks ago only because there were highlights with the passing of Zimmer.  That brought back immediate memories of the rivalry that once was. We were not writing about how important this three-game series could be in late June.

There is still plenty of time to revive this great and memorable baseball rivalry. The season is almost at the mid-point, the Yankees and Red Sox will meet nine more times after this weekend series. And those final three games will conclude the season up at Fenway with a Derek Jeter goodbye gesture from the Red Sox organization.

By then we should have a clearer picture. Is this rivalry where it should be?  Because a Yankees-Red Sox series always had meaning no matter what time of year it was played.

Comment Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com   Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso