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You can start hating the Yankees again

08.20.09 at 11:41 pm ET

As the Red Sox and Yanks get ready to square off this weekend, you wonder if this is the last shot the Sox have to catch New York in the AL East.

I think that most of us have changed our focus to the Wild Card, but what would happen if the Sox sweep the Yanks? Would the East be out of the question? Does it really matter? After all, let’s not forget that the Sox have won the World Series as both the Wild Card representative and the AL East winner. This series has been pretty lopsided so far this year, with the Sox winning the first eight only to get swept by the Yanks less than two weeks ago down in the Bronx.

So what should we expect this weekend? I will be shocked if we see a sweep, let’s start with that.

Early in the year, the Yanks had some serious issues. Their bullpen was awful. One of the reasons was because their rotation was struggling to get deep into the games, leaving the pen over-exposed. C.C. and Burnett weren’t exactly locked in. Joba was giving them five strong every night, refusing to get deep in any of his starts. Wang was a mess.  A-Rod was still recovering from hip surgery and Mark Teixeira got off to a rough start as he usually does every year. As a result, the Sox took the first eight these two played.

A few weeks ago in the Bronx, the Sox were the team in disarray. Jason Bay missed the weekend series and David Ortiz was busy dealing with the media talking vitamins and supplements instead of HR’s and RBI’s. We saw the last of John Smoltz, but we may have been introduced to Clay Buchholz once and for all. The bats were silent and panic settled in all across Red Sox Nation as the Yanks took all four games. But I must say, doesn’t this weekend bring back a little old school feel?

Both teams are playing good baseball at the same time for the first time this season. If the Sox had this lineup when they were in New York, they very easily could have won three of four. I must admit that Pettitte/Burnett/Sabathia sounds a lot better than Penny/Tazawa/Beckett, but I really believe that you can throw match-ups out the window and look more at how teams are playing.  That’s what makes this weekend so intriguing.

Isn’t it good to have the Yankees in the mix again? Did you have fun last year when you were more concerned with the Rays than the Yanks? I didn’t. I want to hate them. I want to fear them. It’€™s just more fun that way. You had to know that this year was going to be different for the boys from New York. Did you see what they did in the offseason? For years I’€™ve been pretty hard on their offseason moves, and rightfully so. Think of all the wasted money they have spent on players who were either flashes in the pan or over-priced players out of their prime. Let me just throw a few names at you.

Let’s start with what I call “smoke a mirrors” — Chris Hammond, Carl Pavano, and Jaret Wright.

Now let’s name a few “on their way out” candidates — Estaban Loiaza, Ruben Sierra, Jon Lieber, Kenny Lofton, Al Leiter, Hideo Nomo, and Randy Johnson.

This is what the Yanks did for years. They reached for the free agents coming off of career years who had never done it before and haven’t done it since. They also signed the over-priced free agents who were well out of their primes. They took a shot and not much of it worked out.

This year, yeah they spent some serious dollars, but they were spent wisely…for once. They grabbed a starting pitcher in C.C. Sabathia who isn’t on his way out of his prime but is hanging out right in the middle of it. C.C. was a year removed from winning the AL Cy Young award and is young enough for the Yanks to think they have an “ace” of the staff for many years to come. They also snagged the best YOUNG hitter on the free agent market in Mark Teixeira. (Young is the key word here.)

Seeing that already have AROD signed through 2017, they may possess the best 3-4 punch in all of baseball for the next seven years. When it comes to these two highly sought-after free agents, it’s awful tough to say that the Yanks will ever regret spending the cash it took to land them. You may not be able to say the same when you talk about what they gave A.J. Burnett. That five-year deal may have been a reach, but he’ll no doubt give them three years or so of quality starts. When it comes to A.J., it’s not about his age as much as his history of arm trouble. That’s a deal we may have to wait and see on.

But the point is made, I hope. They went out and spent a lot of money, but it was money that was spent on players who were still in their primes. They weren’t one-year wonders. They weren’t guys on their way out. They are all good — very good – and that’s the difference.

So get ready. The Yankees are back. You can hate them again. I’m talking, “I can’t stand the sight of them” type of hate. Both teams are confident and playing well.  This may be the best test for both teams and its going to take place right here at Fenway Park.  Sit back and enjoy the hatred!!

Read More: a.j. burnett, C.C. Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, victor martinez
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