The Yankees Take Another Shot at Beating the Red Sox - NBC New York

The Yankees Take Another Shot at Beating the Red Sox

The Yankees head to Boston with first place on the line.



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    First place is up for grabs this weekend.

    This weekend's series between the Red Sox and the Yankees has all the trappings of something not to be missed.

    The two teams are tied for first place in the American League East with 52 games left to play, the Yankees are looking for a little revenge after losing eight of their first nine games against Boston and they enter the series on a seven-game winning streak with their three best pitchers set to start games. And, on top of all that, there are those 100-odd years of history between the teams that make their every meeting worth a little something extra without all the window dressing.

    So why does this weekend set feel like it is undeserving of the hype?

    The biggest reason is that, when all is said and done, it doesn't matter all that much. It would take a collapse that makes the 2007 Mets look like a three-game losing streak for either of these teams to miss the playoffs which means that it doesn't really seem like winning the division is worth a great deal of concern.

    Having home field advantage didn't help the 2004 Yankees and not having it didn't hurt last year's Yankees in the first round against the Twins. These teams are too experienced and too good to worry about whether they have one extra game at home, which should be a good enough reason for Bud Selig and his minions to look into making winning the division worth a little bit more come October.

    Turning around that losing record to the Sox feels like an equally empty excuse to go bananas over a series in August. The Yankees lost each of their first nine games to the Red Sox in 2009 before going on to win the division and the World Series so it would seem that beating the Red Sox in the regular season has very little to do with how things will go when there's a title on the line. 

    Even if the results of the games will prove to have little bearing on who winds up celebrating on the middle of a field at the end of the World Series, there are some things worth watching. As with just about everything else in this Yankees season, pitching is the thing you should be watching.

    Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia are starting two of the games for the Yankees this weekend and the team needs to know if their success this season will carry over to games against loaded lineups. Boston has just such a lineup, making this weekend a fine test of the depth of the Yankee staff and giving the games some relevance for the larger chase that consumes each of these teams.

    All of that said, we go back to something from up top. No one has ever really needed extra reason to get excited about games between the Sox and the Yanks and this weekend should be no exception.

    When baseball gives you something good, it is best to accept it without spending too much time figuring out why you care about it.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.