Who saw this coming, huh? The Red Sox are grinding out wins every which way while the Yankees are functionally inept at just about every facet of the game. The Red Sox are on top of the AL East at 9-4 while the Yankees sit at an abysmal 5-8. The Red Sox just finished a 7-game road trip 6-1 while the outfield of Yankee Stadium was just pelted with baseballs heaved by the utterly embarrassed hometown “faithful.” If only the Sox had managed to pull out that final game in Minnesota on Thursday, it would undoubtedly be Miller Time.
It’s not like we haven’t seen seasons start like this before. The Yankees have started seasons miserably in the past only to come roaring back to win the division. Boston has wasted hot starts and finished the year out of the playoff hunt. Back in my teens, when the Red Sox had not been champions since World War I, I watched Aprils like this in tentative anxiety, just waiting for the other shoe to drop right on top of my head in August and September. Thankfully, witnessing the Red Sox win four World Series in the past 16 years has taught me to enjoy the team’s rolls and not panic through their struggles. More importantly, it has taught me to not hesitate to cackle at the collective misery of Yankee fans when all is well in Beantown and chaos reigns in the Big Apple.
My level of superstition has decreased dramatically ever since Boston earned the official moniker of Titletown. You still won’t catch me uttering the phrase no-hitter if a Red Sox pitcher hasn’t surrendered a hit through the third. You’ll never see me preemptively guarantee a Boston victory for a single game, let alone a championship. But I no longer fear the wrath of the Baseball Gods for the crime of really enjoying a Boston win. And I damn sure have no qualms about rubbing it in John’s face when the Yankees are playing like the Bombers of the late eighties.
Just as they have failed to do since 2001, the Yankees cannot build a starting rotation. It’s like Brian Cashman turned into the Bizzaro-World version of Dave Dombrowski during the past few years. Dumbo never respected the importance of a solid bullpen, to the extent that his neglect killed a potential championship team in Detroit in 2013 and would have killed another in Boston in 2018 if not for the strategic brilliance of Alex Cora. Although I think that Cashman has fallen in love a bit too much with the 2016 Kansas City Royals model of riding a shutdown bullpen to a championship, he does seem to understand the importance of starting pitching. But he whiffs on his starting pitcher selections more often than Bill Belichick whiffs on wide receivers. Michael Pineda and Luis Severino have been two of my favorite Cash-man bungles, as Yankee fans seemed particularly excited about those two before they each revealed their true colors … Pineda’s true color being dark black.
The Yankees starting rotation reminds me of Boston’s Pedro and pray for rain days of the early 2000s. Gerrit Cole is a beast. Corey Kluber would have me shaking in my boots, but fortunately it is no longer 2017. The next biggest threat in that starting five is Domingo German, who is locked in a stiff competition for biggest piece of crap in baseball with teammate Aroldis Chapman, and I’m thrilled to jump on any additional reason to hate a Yankee (beyond the obvious reason of being a Yankee).
The old baseball axiom is that you don’t know how good your team is until Memorial Day. As of April 17th, the Red Sox are a good team with a decent amount of talent and a ton of fight. For now, I’m taking a giant bite out of that 9-game winning streak and letting the juices drip down my chin. Savor the flavor, Sox fans, because the question marks on this team still loom over our heads like a piano dangling from a tenth-floor balcony by a single piece of yarn. But after watching Mookie win a championship clad in another team’s colors, we need to seize every opportunity to enjoy our team’s success. Unless, of course, you bailed on the team in the offseason or after the first three games of the year. In that event, please see the sign.