Tonight will be the 771st time the Red Sox will play the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees have won 483 of the games and there have been four ties. That doesn’t include 10 games in the ALCS.
If you’re a regular visitor to the Stadium, you know the games against Boston have a different feel. No matter if it’s April or September, seeing the Yankees and Red Sox on the field together is an event. You don’t want to avert your eyes because something is going to happen.
Part of it is the talent. Both teams have always spent money to get the best players. DiMaggio played against Williams. Yaz played against Mantle. Fisk took on Munson and now it’s Ortiz and Beckett against Jeter and Pettitte.
Think of the characters like Reggie, Manny and A-Rod. Now everybody hates Kevin Youkilis just like they used to hate Bill Lee.
Geography dictates the passion to a large degree as well. New York kids go to school in Boston. Boston kids come to New York seeking their place in the world. Boston has the hospitals; New York has the museums. Connecticut sometimes feels like a demilitarized zone between two city-states at war for 100 years, a modern Athens and Sparta.
That’s never going to change. But when the Yankees move across the street, it will be different next season. The new Stadium will have the same dimensions but it will never have the same feel. You won’t be able to lean forward in right field and be fairly sure that J.D. Drew can hear you curse him.
So take a good look these next three days and file it away to tell the grandkids what it was like. Unless the teams play in the ALCS – and that’s unlikely – then these will be the last games Boston plays at Yankee Stadium.
There will be a nice new Stadium next season with nice new luxury suites and nice, dispassionate wealthy people sitting close to the field. The players will be great and you’ll care just as much. But it won’t be the same. How can you sit at an air-conditioned martini bar and build up a good hate for Jon Papelbon?
OK, bad example. But you know what I mean.
Why baseball scheduled Boston’s last visit to the Stadium in August instead of September, I have no idea. But at least these games are important ones. Hopefully the Yankee fans will remember to say thanks to Terry Francona today for how he handled the All-Star Game then start screaming their brains out.
The last game at Yankee Stadium will be Sept. 21, we all know that. But this week feels like a chapter is closing.
Shameless plugs: I’m going to be on ESPN News at noon and on ESPN’s Outside The Lines later this afternoon around 4 p.m.