Game 23 vs. New York Yankees: Alex Rodriguez*

Alex Rodriguez is one home run away from tying Willie Mays in fourth place all time for most career home runs in Major League Baseball history. I don't think I need to rehash the ARod history, or his current relationship with the New York Yankees. 

Nope, I think that's covered pretty well by everybody else. 

As most baseball fans know, Alex Rodriguez almost became a member of the Boston Red Sox. It didn't work out, and ARod went to the Yankees. In 2007 he famously opted out of his contract and re-upped with the Yankees with a 10 year deal that included several bonuses tied to career home run milestones. Rodriguez wore #3 before joining the Yankees, so it only made sense that the Yankees would want to market the hell out of #13 matching and eventually surpassing the Yankee legend that is Babe Ruth. 

Years, home runs, and a full season suspension later, the Yankees are ignoring ARod's approaching milestone where he will match and likely Willie Mays in the coming days.  It's certainly possible that Red Sox pitchers will beat Rodriquez head-to-head over the next three games, but it's just as likely that he will turn on a pitch that moves him into a tie for fourth place all time in home runs.

What a weird world we live in, if Fenway Park recognizes Alex Rodriguez's accomplishment and Yankee Stadium does not. I will bet monopoly money that if Edward Mujica gets into a game and pitches against ARod, he will probably be the lucky winner for the history books. If it's a starter that serves up magic #660 or #661, Wade Miley's season number indicate he'll be a contestant for the 2045 Pub Trivia question, Who Served Up ARod's Milestone Homerun That The Yankees Ignored? 

If the Red Sox were up by 15 runs in the ninth inning, I might be OK with this happening, but I'd rather it not happen this weekend.

*Thank baby Jesus that Alex Rodriguez did not end up as a member of the Boston Red Sox. 

 

Game 6 vs. New York Yankees: Andrew Miller

Andrew Miller's career as a New York Yankee is exactly 2 games long, and he's already notched a save against his former club. Miller joins a long list of players to don the uniform from both sides of the rivalry. From Babe Ruth to Johnny Damon to Andrew Miller. I don't think that's necessarily an appropriate sentence to write, but any time you can say Babe Ruth and Andrew Miller in the same breath, you take that opportunity and run with it.

Andrew Miller went from an unmitigated disaster with the Detroit Tigers and Florida Marlins before turning it around in his second season with the Red Sox. Miller, like Babe Ruth and Johnny Damon, joined the Yankees after securing a World Series title with Boston. Miller didn't pitch in the 2013 postseason, but he contributed along the way during the regular season.

So, why Andrew Miller as today's player profile? Miller is signed with the Yankees through 2018, and there's a good chance that he will become the official closer for the Bronx Bombers before long. There will no doubt be highs and lows, and hopefully more lows for Mr. Andrew Miller whenever he faces the team he left behind. 

Game 5 vs. New York Yankees: Elston Howard

Last night's Red Sox - Yankees game was the longest between the two teams since August 29, 1967, when that game went a mere 6 hours 9 minutes. Elston Howard, the first black player for the Yankees, the 1963 AL MVP, and perennial World Series contender, had 5 plate appearances for the Boston Red Sox in that game. He was also a key member of that 1967 Red Sox World Series team. 

The Yankees walked away with a win in 1967, but fortunately for the Red Sox history did not repeat itself last night. 

Today's player is really short, but honestly, there were 11 hours between last night's game and today's game!

Game 4 vs. New York Yankees: Stephen Drew

Stephen Drew represents quite a bit. Between his lackluster postseason performance in 2013(until that beautiful home run during Game 6 of the World Series), to his equally lackluster 2014, and the subsequent deadline trade to the New York Yankees where he continued his lackluster 2014 campaign... he has come to epitomize the rivalry between the Red Sox and Yankees as it stands today.

Tonight's game will be the 2,119th regular season matchup between the two storied franchises. However, it is a few years removed from the regular excitement that existed for much of the Joe Torre years as Yankee manager and into the first few years of Joe Girardi's tenure. The rivalry exists today, but until there's a hard fought battle on the field, it's almost as if it's dormant. The closest comparison might be during the 1980's when neither team won a championship. That isn't completely correct, though, as the impact of the 2004 World Series title and subsequent 2007 and 2013 titles has leveled the bragging rights playing field.

Stephen Drew illustrates this dormancy pretty well. On July 31, 2014, the Red Sox traded Stephen Drew to the Yankees for cash and a bag of balls(Kelly Johnson). It was the first trade between the clubs since 1997, when the Red Sox shipped veteran Mike Stanley to the Yankees during a rebuilding season. One of the prospects the Yankees sent back was part a trade just a few months later that brought Pedro Martinez to Boston from the Montreal Expos. And the rest is history.

Gone from the last height of the rivalry are Pedro Martinez, Derek Jeter, and the theatrics of Don Zimmer being tossed to the ground. The Yankees are not poised for greatness this year, and lots of baseball pundits have written off the Red Sox as well. 2014 represented the first season that neither the Red Sox or Yankees reached the playoffs for the first since since the first Wild Card was introduced. On paper it looks like it could be 2 straight seasons without either team in the postseason. However, from this biased viewpoint, that is highly unlikely.

Wade Miley will take his first step into the Red Sox - Yankees rivalry tonight, thought this will be his second career start against New York. Let's hope Miley wakes up the ghosts of rivalry past and blows away the Yankees to kick off the season's first rivalry series!