A New Chapter of Yankees-Red Sox

David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez

It has never made sense to me to have the Yankees and Red Sox play so early in the season. Sure, there was Opening Night on Sunday Night Baseball in 2005 and Opening Night on Sunday Night Baseball in 2010 and Opening Day in 2013, but if you’re not going to have the teams open the season, then wait until a little later in April rather than the first weekend of the season.

It would have made more sense to have the Yankees and Red Sox both open in warm-weather places or in domes, but that didn’t happen, so they will play three more games in nasty early-April conditions. And with the Yankees and Red Sox meeting this weekend in the Bronx, I emailed Mike Hurley of CBS Boston because that’s what I do when the Yankees and Red Sox play.

Keefe: I have tried to avoid you since Feb. 1 after Pete Carroll made the worst big-game decision in the history of sports. THE HISTORY OF SPORTS. Instead of Jermaine Kearse’s wild catch going down as being even more ridiculous than David Tyree’s en route to a Patriots Super Bowl loss, Tom Brady and Bill Belichick get their fourth Super Bowl win and Boston fans get to celebrate. Disgusting. Just absolutely disgusting.

But that’s not why I’m emailing you today. I’m emailing you because the Yankees and Red Sox are playing for the first time in 2015. And nothing says Yankees-Red Sox like Games 4, 5 and 6 of the season in freezing rain and win in the Bronx.

On Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, I sat in the worst weather imaginable for baseball and the only other time I was so cold at the Stadium was for Rangers-Islanders on Jan. 29, 2014 at 8 p.m. Yes, I not only sat outside in late January at 8 p.m. to watch a hockey game I could barely see, but I paid an exorbitant amount of money to do so. At least I got to watch CeeLo Green sing between periods, so I can tell my future grandchildren about that.

Why is it that MLB doesn’t just make it so 15 teams always open at home? Those teams are the Rays, Blue Jays, Royals, Angels, Rangers, Mariners, Astros, Braves, Marlins, Cardinals, Brewers, Dodgers, Giants, Diamondbacks and Padres.

This almost seems too easy and I guess that’s why it hasn’t happened.

Hurley: It’s appropriate that you’re emailing me before this weekend, because unless I’m mistaken, I believe you and I are the starting pitchers for Saturday’s game. Right?

I was actually just saying Thursday night, watching the Red Sox playing in freezing cold Philly for the second straight night, that there should be zero games north of the Mason-Dixon line until May 1st. There’s just no reason games should be played in Boston, New York, Philly, Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh or Washington D.C. until May. The weather here sucks oh so bad, and watching guys from the Caribbean try to play through the elements is brutal. It’s terrible baseball. Freddy Galvis let a line drive go in and out of his glove on Thursday because he was wearing a full freaking ski mask. It was a joke.

But hey, at least the schedule makers are smart enough to utilize the two weekend games in the Bronx this weekend to play during the day, when the weather has a chance to be somewhat decent, right? It’s not like they’d give the Red Sox an 8 p.m. ESPN game on the night before their 3 p.m. home opener, right? Right??

Man, good thing Adrian Gonzalez isn’t on this year’s Red Sox team. He probably would have fainted and suffered a concussion after seeing the schedule.

Keefe: Adrian Gonzalez’s season-ending excuses in 2011 will go down as a Top 10 all-time Boston sports moment for me. And speaking of Gonzalez, he has five home runs in three games to start the season. How insane is that? Mark Teixeira probably won’t hit his fifth home run until June and maybe even later than that if he spends time on the disabled list with light-headedness or tired legs.

When you think of Gonzalez, do you ever miss him being on the Red Sox?

Hurley: Well, I’ll be honest, I really liked him for the first half of 2011. He seemed like a baseball savant, and his swing was beautiful. It was effortless, and he crank dingers over the bullpen at Fenway with ease. It seemed like the only thing he did was smoke the baseball, and that was cool with me.

But he really showed his true colors in the second half of the season, when the pressure ramped up and his batting average dropped 40 points, his OPS dropped more than 100 points, and he hit just 10 homers (compared to 17 in the first half). Then when they were amazingly eliminated on that final night of the season, him talking about God’s plan and the tough schedule was just ridiculous.

So no, I don’t miss him. He was an amazing hitter, and it was cool to see his work ethic in the video room and stuff like that play out in game situations. But he couldn’t handle the pressure here and was miserable and angry through 2012. He’s in a perfect place now. If he hits homers, people cheer. If he goes on a prolonged slump, I’m not sure anyone will notice out in L.A.

When you think of 2011 and the “Best Team Ever” storyline, do you ever miss it? Was it the best time of your life?

Keefe: The 2011 season was glorious time. The “Best Team Ever” headline, the September collapse and listening to Felger and Mazz rip the entire organization every day along with having “Carmine” and also John Henry on the show was a great time to be a Yankees fan. Actually 2009 through present day minus 2013 has been an amazing time to be a non-Red Sox fan, and that’s why 2013 gets me upset.

The 2009 season was full of Brad Penny and John Smoltz starts and David Ortiz hitting .188 with one home run on June 5. In 2010, the Red Sox missed the playoffs again and then the magical 2011 season. 2012 was the Bobby Valentine disaster and a 93-loss season. And then 2014 was another last-place finish and a 91-loss season.

I know in Boston you have the Impossible Dream season in which the team didn’t even win the World Series, but 2013 was the Impossible Dream. Actually, it was the Miracle of All Miracles.

Now with this revamped lineup in 2015, I’m a little worried this era of bad Red Sox baseball might be ending. The only thing giving me hope is that the rotation is full of No. 3 and No. 4 starters.

Hurley: You bring up the Impossible Dream, and it raises a topic I’ve never understood for my whole life. I was born in ’86, obviously the year the Red Sox screwed up by letting the freaking Mets win a World Series. It would be so much funnier if both the Mets and the Jets hadn’t won since 1969. Alas …

But what I don’t understand is how prior to 2004, the Impossible Dream and Fisk home run were held in the highest possible regard by Red Sox fans. Like, how bad were things that getting bent over by Bob Gibson three times (27 IP, 3 ER, 26 SO, 0.704 WHIP) didn’t spoil the postseason run, or where losing in the ninth inning of Game 7 in 1975 didn’t stop people from celebrating a homer to win Game 6? That’s insane. They lost! But if you entered any Boston sports museum during the ’90s, or if you’ve ever talked to an old person in Boston, they’d talk your ear off about those glorious times. It’s pretty nuts.

Anyway, it doesn’t take too long of a look at the Red Sox current roster to know what they are. They are going to hit dingers. So many dingers. And their pitching is going to be bad. If they were allowed to face quadruple-A lineups like Philly’s all year, they’d be fine, but I think against real offenses, the Red Sox will see themselves in a lot of 11-9 ballgames.

That being said, it’d be hard to put together a great starting rotation using all of the AL East, so I do think they should be competitive in that race.

Keefe: I miss the days when Red Sox fans only had a game-winning home run in a World Series they lost to get nostalgic about. These last 11 years have ruined all of that. But what if 11 years ago, the MLBPA didn’t care about the idea of A-Rod giving money back to leave a last-place Rangers team to join the Red Sox? What if A-Rod had gone to Boston and not New York and were still on the Red Sox?

People like to say that the Red Sox wouldn’t have won in 2004 or since if A-Rod is a Red Sox, but not only do they win in 2004 and after, but they are unstoppable in 2004 and the 3-0 Yankees collapse never happens. The Red Sox were top to the bottom the better team that year and if you put A-Rod in that lineup and remove Manny, not much changes. The Yankees probably don’t win the AL East and they certainly don’t beat the Twins in the ALDS, which they only did because of A-Rod.

If A-Rod is part of the team that brings the Red Sox their first world championship since 1918, he is a sports legend and a hero in Boston. Instead, he is A-Rod and the most hated man in Boston sports history, for really no reason since he was willing to go to the Red Sox.

Hurley: I love talking to you about baseball because inevitably, at some point you are going to go into an absolute mental breakdown due to the events that took place between Oct. 17 and Oct. 20 in 2004.

Seeing you send yourself into psychotic fits of rage, anger and confusion is my favorite pastime.

The failed A-Rod trade is one of the craziest and most quickly forgotten sports stories in Red Sox history. Manny was gone. Nomar was gone. A-Rod was in. Magglio Ordonez was in. Everything was WEIRD.

It’s actually why — and I’m not sure if you know this — when Manny accepted his World Series MVP Award live on Fox that night in ’04, after Boston had won its first World Series since before mos people drove cars, he was asked a softball question by Jeanne Zelasko. “What do you say to the fans who have waited 86 years?” The first words out of his mouth were, “We want Alex! But you know, now I’m in Boston, and I love you guys! You guys are the best!”

Just the biggest moment in franchise history, and the MVP is basically saying, “Eff you guys, you wanted me traded for A-Rod.”

But nobody really paid attention to that because of the whole World Series thing. In Boston, we are really good at ignoring the dumb stuff you say, so long as you keep socking dingers.

Keefe: In no other city can an athlete call the city he plays in a “shithole” and still be loved! But hey, it’s just David Ortiz being David Ortiz, so we’ll let it slide. If he wants to call the city that is home to the fans that pay his salary a “shithole” or complain about his contract every spring or “write” essays for The Players’ Tribune about why anyone who says he used PEDs is a fool, so be it. David Ortiz can do whatever he wants!

I never understood why fans in Boston weren’t at least a little upset by the way Ortiz acts, but I guess helping the team to three World Series in 11 years will give him a pass. I won’t lump you into those “fans” though since I know your fandom is long gone and 18-year-old Michael Hurley celebrating a Red Sox World Series win in his dorm room is long gone too. But I guess having a sixth-month old baby and being around millionaire athletes who wouldn’t call AAA for you if you were stuck on the side of the road will do that.

Hurley: I actually spit out the peanut butter cracker I was eating when I read your last line. That is just so true. I could be lying on the clubhouse floor, nerd-ass shirt tucked into my nerd-ass khakis while holding my nerd-ass recorder and my nerd-ass notepad, and I could be convulsing, in dire need of medical attention, and those dudes would just step right over me. And probably laugh about it.

That’s obviously an exaggeration. But like, not that big of an exaggeration.

But hey, I’m not going to let the inherent weirdness of the player-reporter relationship stop me from talking about what kind of guy some of these people are. That’s a totally normal thing to do. Did you see the DEVASTATING Milton Bradley story this week?

I’m sure plenty of baseball writers over the years said he was misunderstood and wasn’t that much of a hot head. Good stuff, guys!

Keefe: I love when writers and reporters wish a player a “Happy Birthday” or congratulate him for a milestone on Twitter as if they care. I’m going to write, “Happy 41st Birthday, Derek Jeter!” this June 26 even though Jeter doesn’t have Twitter.

On Thursday, Mike Francesa had Jim Nantz on (because they are best friends) to talk about The Masters and Nantz told Francesa about Tiger Woods’ state of mind entering the tournament and how Woods’ kids seem happy as if he has seen inside Woods’ head or if he is one of his children. And you know that Nantz 100 percent believes he knows exactly what is going on in Tiger Woods’ life or what it’s like to be one of Tiger Woods’ kids after all that has happened over the years. Jim Nantz is the worst.

But back to baseball … I’m not sure where the 2015 season is going to take us. The Yankees have pitching and no hitting. The Red Sox have hitting and no pitching. The Blue Jays have hitting and no pitching and the Orioles are pretty much in that same boat with a little more pitching than the Blue Jays. As for the Rays, well they should probably stick “Devil” back in front of their name because it’s going to be 1998-2007 in Tampa Bay. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing because I miss the days when the Rays would give the Yankees an easy 15 wins a year.

As for now, hopefully the Yankees can score more than three runs total in the three games this weekend and Mark Teixeira remembers to drink water and stay hydrated and I’ll be sure to bother you again in three weeks when the Yankees head to Boston for the weekend.

Hurley: Pretty bold of you to claim the Yankees have pitching as they enter a series where they’ll start Nathan Eovaldi and Adam Warren for the first two nights and then hope Masahiro Tanaka can flirt with 90 mph in the finale. Pretty bold. But I’d expect nothing less from you.

I have put in a mass order of popcorn for the weekend. I’m ready to see some dingers.

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