McAdam: Red Sox-Yankees fire seemed forced

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McAdam: Red Sox-Yankees fire seemed forced

By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
Perhaps inadvertently, Francisco Cervelli's over-exuberance has given the Red Sox-Yankee rivalry a bit of a spark.

Until Tuesday night, the games between the rivals had been relatively uninteresting, with many of the first dozen games somewhat one-sided.

There's a lot of to live up to for these two teams when they meet. Beyond the expectations of their respective fan bases and the epic clashes in the 2003 and 2004 ALCS are the flashpoints that the rivalry has already boasted -- Lee-Nettles, Munson-Fisk, Zimmer-Martinez, Varitek-Rodriguez, etc.

In 2011, mere quality baseball does not successfully feed the hungry beast -- not when there are 18 games between the teams, with the potential (likelihood?) of seven more to come in October. There have to be subplots, villains, and ultimately, bench-clearings, to make the games compelling.

Even by baseball standards, Tuesday night's half-hearted trots out from the dugout and in from the bullpen were lackluster.

The closest we got to tempers truly flaring came when Jarrod Saltalamacchia stepped in between Cervelli and the path to the pitcher's mound after Cervelli got plunked.

The two catchers stood toe-to-toe and unloaded a few verbal unpleasantires before being separated by home plate umpire Ed Rapuano. As home plate confrontations go in this rivalry, it fell way short of Varitek's face-wash on Rodriguez.

But the Yankees were using the issue for all it was worth -- and then some. Sabathia menacingly yelled out to Lackey from the third-base foul line. Coach Tony Pena was fuming and manager Joe Girardi wasn't far behind.

For the Red Sox part, there was a strict adherence to the line that, no, the pitch from Lackey wasn't intentional and straight-faced professions that, see, the scouting report said to keep Cervelli off the plate.

But every once in a while, the Red Sox deviated from the script, sarcastically noting that the homer was Cervelli's second of the season and third of his career, and hey, if that gets you excited enough to act like you just belted a walk-off homer in the World Series, then, good for you.

It is perhaps a sad commentary that the rivalry needs this kind of juice, but perhaps the unbalanced schedule really has left us with a "more is less'' approach.

No matter how much we might wish otherwise, not every one of 18 regular season meetings is headed for Instant Classic status. Some are going to be downright mundane.

That's a by-product of over-exposure, and, just maybe, the disappearance of personalities. The 2003-04 rivalry featured plenty of those.

By 2004, the Yankees had a villain straight out of central casting, Alex Rodriguez, who had a bullseye attached to him for 1) being the game's highest-paid player ever and 2) not doing enough -- in the minds of Red Sox' fans, at least -- to facilitate a deal between the Red Sox and Texas Rangers.

Sure enough, Rodriguez only needed to be wound up and fitted for pinstripes for fireworks to ensue, which they surely did, in the ALCS 2004, i.e. The Rematch.

There were counterparts in the Red Sox dugout, too, including Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez, with Johnny Damon and Kevin Millar waiting on deck. They could be counted on for an outrageous quote or an emotional on-field reaction which could light the fuse at any point.

Now? Only a handful of players remain on both teams, mostly in reduced roles.

Where once Martinez and Ramirez represented the Red Sox, now it's Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez. The Yankees have become a team led by Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira. Try getting a fire started with that quartet.

That doesn't mean that there can't be good baseball between the Red Sox and Yankees in 2011. Last month, Josh Reddick's walk-off heroics in the 10th inning capped a thrilling -- if over-long -- game and the prospect of more this post-season is enough to whet a baseball appetite.

But along the way, we may have to deal with games like Tuesday night, when the emotion seemed forced and the over-reaction appeared manufactured.

Sean McAdam can be reached at smcadam@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sean on Twitter at http:twitter.comsean_mcadam

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Red Sox rally for 8-7 spring training victory over Twins

Red Sox rally for 8-7 spring training victory over Twins

Brian Bogusevic's RBI single in the eighth inning gave the Red Sox a come-from-behind, 8-7, spring training victory over the Minnesota Twins on Saturday in Fort Myers, Fla.

Bogusevic, 32, an outfielder signed to a minor league deal this winter, played in Japan last season and hasn't been in the major leagues since 2015 with the Phillies.

Reliever Tyler Thornburg, acquired in the offseason trade that sent Travis Shaw to the Milwaukee Brewers, had a rough outing in his Red Sox debut. He allowed five runs (four earned), four hits and a walk in 2/3 of an inning as the Red Sox fell behind 7-3 by the fourth inning.

Left-hander Roenis Elias started for Boston and allowed a first-inning home run to Byungho Park. He struck out three in two innings.

Mookie Betts went 2-for-3 with a double and first base prospect Sam Travis, hitting .500 this spring, tied it at 7 with an RBI double in the sixth.

Red Sox manager John Farrell said earlier Saturday that Eduardo Rodriguez is scheduled to make his first start on Thursday against the Tampa Bay Rays in Fort Myers and Chris Sale will make his first start March 6 against the Houston Astros in West Palm Beach. Rodriguez injured his knee in winter ball in Venezuela and threw his first batting practice session on Saturday.

The Red Sox next travel to Port Charlotte to play the Rays Sunday at 1:05 p.m.