NEW YORK Jonny Gomes and Mike Napoli
Wait it gets better Ben Francisco and Vernon Wells
Doesn t quite carry the old and familiar whiff of Yankees Red Sox around here does it
Unless you want to consider the odor emanating from Alex Rodriguez s usual blather there is little about this meeting of toothless rivals that passes the Opening Day smell test. This is supposed to be Grudge Week and this game has about the same cachet as say Rangers Astros.
The only difference Just one team in that Texas opener was considered a contender for last place whereas we have two such teams occupying Yankee Stadium today.
We always liked John Farrell Monmouth County guy but even the Sox manager strains the limits of credibility when he says This game will always be about the players. So while the names have changed I don t think you can completely look past the history that these two teams have with one another. This is still a spectacle and a series that draws a lot of attention and we re fortunately to be part of it.
Obviously you hope that s the case.
In fact we ve been searching far and wide for reasons why this Yankees season won t be a ripsnorting 81 81 but every spring casualty seemed to counteract whatever positive we could invent.
Eventually we thought of something that provided a fragment of promise or at least a reminder why you can t dismiss a season before it has even begun. And for this you have to go way way way back to ... 2011.
Think back There was a terrible vibe that spring. The Red Sox were the overwhelming favorites after adding Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford while absolutely nobody expected the Yankees to stay near the top of the division.
One reason Their starting rotation was putrid. After CC Sabathia A.J. Burnett was a wreck Phil Hughes was coming off a year that included an 11.24 ERA in postseason and they missed out on Cliff Lee. Things were so grim they had to fill out the rotation with two guys a decade past their primes.
But Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon combined to win 20. Ivan Nova came out of nowhere to go 16 4. The pitching held together the lineup was still formidable and then something funny happened after Boston trashed the league to the tune of 81 42 over 4 months The Sox just fell apart.
They blew that nine game lead in September when the Rays leapfrogged them to win the wild card. It cost Terry Francona his job.
Meanwhile the Yanks never panicked and puttered into the postseason by winning the AL East easily.
No one expects anything like this to happen again but the playoffs would clearly represent a triumph for this Yankees team. And they clearly have a better starting rotation than they did two years ago.
So the promise of Opening Day still radiates in the Bronx. Only it s harder to see when you squint in disbelief at the names on your scorecard.