If you are like me, today is the day you have been waiting for since Chris Sale put an exclamation point on the greatest season in Red Sox history by striking out the side in the ninth inning at Dodger Stadium for the World Series win. Sale had said in August that he was proud to be on ‘the best team ever to walk the planet’ and, at that point it would have been hard to call him wrong.
Like the great Rogers Hornsby, who I always seem to quote this time of the year, when asked what he did all winter, said I have been ‘staring out the window and waiting for Spring.’ Today, the Red Sox and Yankees kick off the Spring Training season with a game at Jet Blue Park and, 33 days from today, the Sox open the regular season with a game at Safeco Field in Seattle.

Carl Johnson

After winning 108 games last year and demolishing the Yankees, Astros and Dodgers, in the Post Season, three teams with a combined 294 and 192 record in the regular season, losing only three of 14 played, Red Sox Nation was ecstatic.
Today’s game, of course, means nothing to either team but we are finally going in the right direction. From a New England perspective, it is fitting that these two teams should play each other to open the Spring Training season. After the battle the two put on last year and the probability that they will walk away with the two top spots in the East again this year, it will be good to see them on the field to start Spring Training.
Last year, of course, the Red Sox came out on top, but it was a great race. Despite the Sox winning a franchise record 108 games and winning the Division by eight games, the Yankees managed to win 100 games and the Sox edged the Yankees in their season series, just 10 wins to 9.
Both teams have almost the same roster coming back that they had last year. The Yankees have strengthened their bull pen by resigning Free Agent Zack Britton, a 31-year-old reliever, who they had picked up from Baltimore last year just before the trading deadline and signing 33-year-old left handed Free Agent Adam Ottavino who made 75 appearances last year, with a 2.43 ERA, with Colorado, striking out 112 batters in just 78 innings.  Those two, added to a bull pen anchored by Aroldis Chapman and Dellin Betances, give the Yankees a formidable relief staff.
They also picked up left handed starter, James Paxton, from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for four minor league players. Paxton 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA last year, was on the disabled list four times in the last two years. He is expected to be in the top three in the starting rotation behind Luis Severino who just signed a four-year contract after winning 19 and losing 8 last year and Masahiro Tanaka, 12-6 last year with a 3.75 ERA. The rest of the planned rotation includes C. C. Sabathia, who will turn 39 during the season and who has had physical problems and had a 9-7 record last year. The fifth starter is planned to be 36-year-old J. A. Happ, who was 17-6 last year.
They lost their outstanding shortstop, Didi Gregorious to Tommy John surgery and picked up Free Agent Troy Tulowitzki, who didn’t play at all last year, with foot problems, to replace him. Tulo only played in 66 games in 2017, hitting .272 with 7 homers and 26 RBI’s.
The Sox, on the other hand stayed with basically the team that got them the Championship last year. Notable exceptions were the loss of Craig Kimbrel to Free Agency, (by the way, as of this writing he still has not signed with anyone but doesn’t appear to be returning to Boston,) and Joe Kelly, who signed with the Dodgers after a spectacular World Series.
The two teams should battle it out for the American League East again but, once the season starts, the two do not meet until April 16th and 17th, in New York and then, in New York again, in a four-game series from May 30th until June 2nd. Red Sox fans will not get to see the hated Yankees in Fenway until July 25th when they come in to Boston for a four-game series. Quite a wait for the greatest rivalry in all of sports to arrive in town.
Oh, by the way, in case you haven’t noticed, the greatest rivalry in sports will travel to London before it travels to Boston this year. On June 29th and 30th, a Saturday and Sunday, almost a month before Boston fans get to see them square off in Fenway, they will play two games in London Stadium. Yes, that’s the London Stadium, as they say, Across the Pond.
As a result, Red Sox fans will only get to see the great rivalry in Fenway this year eight times, two four game series.  After the first visit to Boston in July, they don’t come back until September 6th when they start a four-game series.
The Yankees and Sox will both have two days off, a Thursday and Friday, before the trip because of the distance to travel which tells you that MLB can’t really feel that they are going to add teams in England in the near future.  Scheduling would be impossible.
Major League baseball, as I mentioned last week, is concerned about it’s dwindling attendance but doesn’t seem too concerned about the loyal fans in Boston who will miss two games with their heroes so that MLB can hawk its brand in England. They will probably play to a full house in London Stadium those two days but how many of those fans will come back to see the Yankees and Sox play in Boston.
I am sure they will sell a lost of jerseys and make a lot of money from the trip but the effect on the loyal fans in Boston just doesn’t seem worth the effort to me.
The fact that the baseball season is finally here is the important thing.  It seems like forever since the 2018 season ended but it was just 118 days ago today that that last pitch to Manny Machado, who just this week signed for $300. million, slammed into the glove of Christian Vazquez and the Red Sox were World Champions again.
Play Ball!

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