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!

 

Game 2 vs. Philadelphia Phillies: Tom Gordon

Tom Gordon logged 10 years in the big leagues before he had a breakout season in 1998 as the stopper for the Boston Red Sox.  Like many members of that team, Gordon caught lightning in a bottle. That isn't to say Tom Gordon wasn't a serviceable major league pitcher, but 1998 was a career year for him. Second baseman Mike Benjamin also had a career year. Along with a peak season for Darren Bragg, Darren Lewis, and Scott Hatteberg to go along with strong seasons from Pedro Martinez, Nomar Garciaparra and Mo Vaughn, the 1998 Boston Red Sox were truly lightning in a bottle. 

Unfortunately for that team, they ran into the steamrolling 1998 Cleveland Indians and were defeated in the ALDS 3 games to 1.

Tom Gordon's career had a few bright spots, and after missing all of the 2000 season he reemerged as a solid late inning stopper and occasional fill-in closer. By 2006 he found himself on the Philadelphia Phillies, logging 34 saves. He lost his job as closer but remained a key member of the bullpen. He earned a World Series ring with the 2008 Phillies, though spent the rest of the year on the disabled list after landing on it in July. 

The Red Sox face off versus the Phillies tonight in Game 2 of the 2015 season. Here's hoping the Red Sox harness some of the career year energy from the ghost of Tom "Flash" Gordon's Red Sox past!