|Back when Pedro Martinez pitched for the Red Sox, the "best rivalry in sports" was in its prime. Boston needs to find a way to get back to that. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Perhaps the most important thing for the remainder of this season would be intensifying the "rivalry" that once existed, but has sadly disappeared over the last several seasons.
The days of mitt-punches, brush-up's and benches clearing brawls have faded as quickly as the happiness from that last World Series title. The only battles the two teams engage in at this point are purely baseball related, which as we know, is a far-shot from what it once was.
There's still talk of the "rivalry" and the contests between the Red Sox and Yankees are frequently nationally televised (conveniently on weekends), but the only intensity between the two is media created, like almost everything else.
Theres still the urgency to beat the Yankees, at least I hope there is. The players tell the media there is. The passion isn't there anymore though, and it's part of the missing link in this teams DNA. To succeed in Boston, the players have to almost hate (I know, strong word) the Yankees.
Bobby Valentine (a member of the media before coming to Boston) did his best to spark a fire when he questioned Jeter's flip play during Spring training, likely recognizing the importance of the rivalry, but it was to no avail as the Yankees quickly brushed the comments off.
Everyone likes to see a little action in baseball, the kind that has guys running from the bullpen, maybe that's what needs to happen to give the Red Sox some added incentive to pummel the first-place Yankees? I bet it would help, but I don't see it happening.
How many members of the Red Sox could you visualize starting a fight with the Yankees? There's no more Jason Varitek, Pedro Martinez has retired, and Manny is being Manny except its at his mansion and not on the field.
I'm not sure how it has to happen, and maybe it doesn't have to happen. Maybe this series will just be a plain old wake-up call to the Red Sox and they can pick up the intensity. Somehow, it has to happen though and it has to happen fast.
Seven games against the Yankees this month and the Red Sox need a motivation to win more than they lose. If they don't, we can close the book on the '12 season. We're approaching the point of no return and it hasn't looked good. Can the Sox make this series the spark that lights the fuse?