July is the understood slow time of the year in sports. Phil Mickelson could have won his 19th PGA major on Sunday and it still would have been a slow weekend in the sports world, even with the Yankees and Red Sox featured on the worldwide leader.
There is only so much to gather from a three-game series in late July from one of the biggest rivalries in sports.
One thing that's sure is that Yanks-Sox still matter, despite Boston having the best record in the league and New York just trying to get guys on the field who the general baseball consumer can recognize.
With the way the season has played out so far, the Sox look poised to be in the playoff picture. But winning the American League East is an entirely different story. That’s an arms race, and despite missing limbs this season, the Yankees still have reach.
The AL East is like Talib Kweli on the “Palookas” track from Gutter Rainbows. Three of the division teams have plus-500 records and the last place Blue Jays are better than any other division’s next worst team. Tampa Bay and Baltimore are not only viable in the pennant race, but they’re almost a lock to give pause to anyone trying to cop one of those Wild Card spots.
The Yankees and Red Sox have to be thinking like the preeminent franchises they have proven to be, looking toward the stop and scared as hell of what happens if they end up scrapping it out just to step into a one-game playoff scenario.
There could very well be three teams from this division in the postseason. Trust, whichever loses out between the Rangers and A’s in the AL West is concerned with being a bystander to the top-down dominance of the opposite coast.
Jonny Gomes isn’t lost on what the East is doing to the rest of the league. In the first half of the season, the division imposed itself with a combined 123-93 record against the rest of the American League; 70-54 against the Central; 53-39 against the West. They went a combined 35-19 in interleague play.
“I’ve actually looked at our standings and you saw the whole AL East win,” Gomes said. “It seems like the only time a team loses is when we play each other. It’s a big division. It truly is.” (h/t Boston Globe).
So much attention has been paid to the Yankees’ health issues, with Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez both crippled this season. But both of these squads are a bit makeshift and still in the mix of things.
The Sox have started six different dudes at third base and made frequent shifts to the batting lineup, yet they’ve scored more runs than any other major league squad.
Boston won the rubber match in the 11th inning on Sunday thanks to Mike Napoli going off with a pair of home runs; one early and one late.
It’s got nothing on the drama we’ll see come September.