You don’t have a chance if you don’t move now

Josh Beckett. Win, dude, win. Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/ in April 2009 and used with permission.

I look out my window and it’s dark and grey. There is nothing about this morning, thus far, that is enticing me to be excited about sitting in an open ballpark tonight. Not that I need to be enticed to go to Fenway normally but I almost do for Yankees games.

I’ve written it before – I’m not really a fan (any more) of going to Fenway for a Sox/Yanks game. (Heck, I don’t like to even LIVE BLOG Yankees games – yet I’m doing both this week!) The stress is too much. Every series I say I won’t get sucked into it and every series I do. When I get to Fenway tonight there are going to be Red Sox fans there for no other reason than to mix it up with Yankees fans and there will be Yankees fans there for no other reason than to be total jackasses in someone else’s park. This is not fun. This is anxiety wrapped in annoyance. So why do I go? Why do I spend money I really should be sending to Visa or Discover on these tickets?

Because it’s freaking awesome, that’s why.

Along with the annoying-ass fans (and, to be fair, not everyone at Fenway tonight will be annoying. Just the types of fans I mentioned above and Mark Teixeira) we get hours of baseball (which, to many isn’t always a good thing but to me, on a night when I don’t have to get up in the AM for work, is heavenly) and we usually get some amazing games. The last Sox/Yankees game I attended ended in an extra-innings, walk-off win for the Red Sox. Sox fans practically floated out of Fenway. Sure there’s been heartache too (I was present for the double-header loss in 2006 that began the five loss weekend against the Yankees) but, more often than not, when you watch a Sox/Yanks game you end up with an experience to truly remember.

Aside from those horrible five days in 2006, ever since 2004 losses to the Yankees don’t feel the same. For me there’s always a “Meh, we’ll get them next time” vibe. That doesn’t take away from the passion or how much I really, really, want the Sox to beat them but it does make the losses much easier to deal with. Not that I expect many losses this week.

And there’s the thing…there was a time when we’d look at our pitching and look at the lineup for the Yankees and think the only way the Sox could win was if God had money on the game. These days (“these days” being brought to you by the years 2004 and 2007 and the ownership of Henry, Lucchino and Werner) it’s a little different. This week the Yankees have to face Beckett, Wakefield and Penny. Penny might not be lighting up MLB with his stats but even I have to admit that, for an end of the rotation guy, he’s pitched well. On Thursday he’ll have to pitch well against CC Sabathia and I think he has the chops to do it. Tim Wakefield has just been, hands down, the most reliable guy in the rotation. He’s had his share of hiccups this season but his knuckleball coupled with the fact that the Yankees are throwing Wang out there, gives me hope for Wednesday’s game.

But Josh Beckett against AJ Burnett should be the barn burner. AJ’s okay, sure, but if there’s one game I’d love to see the Red Sox totally dominate the Yankees, it’s tonight’s. Since the last time he faced the Yankees (on May 5th in a 7-3 Sox win where Beckett went 6, gave up 10 hits and struck out 5) Beckett’s ERA has dropped from 6.75 to 4.09 (yes, I still use ERA as one of the ways to judge a pitcher. Just call me Joe Morgan, I guess). He’s also pitched 7 or more innings in the five games since the Yankees game and he’s struck out 32 batters. In Beckett’s last two games he gave up a total of 5 hits and 1 earned run. My point? Beckett’s getting better with each game he pitches so tonight’s game might not be the walk in the park some Yankees fans seem to expect.

Which leads me to another thing that’s interesting about the Sox/Yanks games. Suddenly, I get email from people who have never sent me email before. Whether it be Red Sox fan wanting to know why I don’t write more about how the Yankees suck (I really had someone ask me that) or it’s the Yankees fan taking me to task (and, trust me, that’s putting it nicely) for suggesting yesterday that the Red Sox hit Alex Rodriguez. (There are other ways he could get ball-shaped bruises!) Mostly it’s the Yankees fan emails that really crack me up. I sense that many of the Yankees fans who email me are the same ones who go to Fenway and scream in the faces of Red Sox fans (This happened to a friend of mine at her first Yankees/Sox game. She was young and a bit sensitive and it took all I had in me not to beat the gut who did it to death). I don’t think all Yankees fans wait for these games to come out of the woodwork and be obnoxious but the anonymity of the Internet sure helps those who do.

So I’m making no real predictions but I think the Sox have a good chance of taking two out of three here if they can play like we know they are capable and not like the guys (short of Jon Lester) who played this weekend against the Rangers.

In any event, I know where I’ll be tonight. Sitting in Fenway, most likely getting rained on (leaving the “good” camera home but will, hopefully, have some pics to share) and watching the greatest rivalry in baseball. As much as I like to pretend it’s “just another game”, once you get to the park you realize how untrue that is.

Both AJ Burnett and Josh Beckett have been suspended this season for throwing over a batter’s head (but not actually hitting him). Beckett served his suspension and Burnett is in the appeal phase of his. I’m torn between being worried about the possibility of losing Beckett if his head gets hot and having a thrill at being in person to see my first Sox/Yanks fight. I’m really hoping the cool side of Josh shows up tonight and there are no fireworks. But if we’re THIS amped up about these games I have to imagine that the players might be too.

Win, Joshua Patrick. Just win. (And some runs would be nice too, fellas!)

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