Coming into tonight’s game, the Red Sox are 1.5 Games ahead of the Yankees in the AL East. The pundits have all been debating whether or not this matters, since it seems to be a lock that both these teams will make the playoffs. Tampa Bay, the nearest Wild Card threat, is 7.5 games behind New York with less than 30 games to play. But don’t listen to media “experts”. This is Red Sox – Yankees. There is always something to play for, no matter if it’s Spring Training or the ALCS.
You have to think about the momentum gained by the team who edges out the other for the Division title heading into the playoffs. Plus the winner gets a weaker first round opponent, and would have Home Field advantage should the Red Sox and Yankees tangle in the second round. The Sox are 10-2 against New York this year, so if they win this series it would be pretty demoralizing for the Yankees. They play a total of 6 more games against each other, 3 this week in Boston, then 3 games in New York at the end of September. If you played for the Yankees and the Red Sox crushed you at the end of the season, won the division, and finished say 14-4 against you on the year, how confident would you feel heading into the post-season?
Entering September and October it’s as much about the psychological element of the game as it is anything else. Remember in ’04 when the loose, confident “Idiots” came back against the Yankees by staying mentally tough when they were down 3-0 in the ALCS? Baseball is a slowly paced game where players spend a lot of time inside their own heads. These two teams are playing for more than to just make the playoffs. You need to come into the post-season hot in order to to actually win anything. I think there’s a lot at stake when these two teams take the field tonight at Fenway. Remember this is the Red Sox and the Yankees… don’t ever underestimate the greatest rivalry in sports.