It has been a good long while since a series with the Red Sox actually felt like something that mattered as much to the players as it does to the fans and media.
After the insanely high tension created in the 14 games of the 2003 and 2004, that's probably understandable. Once the Red Sox won it all there wasn't the same dichotomy between the teams that there was for the previous 86 years and, therefore, it hasn't been as easy to generate the same kind of dislike on the field.
We might be seeing a return to the bad old days this week at Yankee Stadium. A pair of events during Tuesday's 6-4 Red Sox win could set the stage for two days of fireworks in the steamy Bronx.
The first came during the first inning when Jon Lester hit Mark Teixeira on the right kneecap and knocked the Yankee first baseman out of the game. Lester also hit Russell Martin later in the inning and all the Red Sox pitchers were throwing inside on Tuesday night.
Nothing seemed intentional, but the consistent pitching on the inner half is definitely the sort of thing that could lead to a response from Yankee pitchers watching their teammates go down in pain. Hector Noesi seemed to be doing that when one of his pitches buzzed David Ortiz in the top of the fifth, but he didn't hit Big Papi and wound up setting the stage for the second big event of the evening.
Ortiz mashed Noesi's next pitch into the stands for a two-run homer, admired his shot and then flipped his bat across the plate with his right hand before starting his customarily sloth-like trip around the bases. That didn't sit well with Joe Girardi.
"I didn’t really care for it," Girardi said. "I don’t know if he was upset that he missed some pitches earlier. You know, I’ve got a young kid on the mound. I didn’t know if he was upset that he came in hard on him."
Freddy Garcia dug a deep hole by allowing four runs in less than two innings of work, the Yankees couldn't hit enough with runners on base and Ortiz's antics were no different than his routine after any of the other home runs he's hit over the years.
It's trite to say that if the Yankees don't like it that they shouldn't let it happen, but it also happens to be true. They need to be better at taking care of their business before wasting any time worrying about how the Red Sox take care of theirs.
That said, we aren't going to be looking away should they decide to do something else about it on the field. Two wrongs don't make a right, but it can be awfully entertaining.