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

McAdam: Poor homestand puts Red Sox on tough road

McAdam: Poor homestand puts Red Sox on tough road

The Red Sox had their chance.

They could have beefed up during the just-completed homestand and taken advantage of the worst team in the American League (Minnesota) and another that was only three games over .500 when it came to town (Detroit).

Instead, the Red Sox were just 2-5 in the last seven games at Fenway, losing ground in the standings to the Orioles and Blue Jays rather than making the race tighter.

That's not to suggest the Red Sox played their way out of contention in the last week. There are better than two months remaining in the season and the schedule isn't yet two-thirds complete.

Moreover, there is no dominant team in the East, and, thus, no one capable of pulling away and leaving the rest of the teams in their wake.

Baltimore and Toronto are flawed, too, as the first 100 or so games of the season have demonstrated.

But what the disappointing homestand means is this: Because they didn't win as much as they should at Fenway in the last week, the Sox will have to make up for that on the road.

As has been talked about ad nauseum in the last week, the schedule is about to become more demanding for the Red Sox. It's bad enough that they're in the middle of a stretch that will see them enjoy one (1) day off in the span of 44 days. Making matters worse is that 41 of the final 63 games are away from home -- including the next 11.

Put another way: The Red Sox have not yet had a three-city road trip this season, but all four of their remaining trips are of the three-city variety, including two that include travel to the West Coast.

The Red Sox have played fairly well on the road (21-19) -- they're one of just four teams in the American League with a winning road record -- but the simple fact remains: It's harder to win on the road than it is at home. And that's before you take into consideration the toll that lengthy road trips can take.

Of the next three road opponents, one has a losing record, and another is just two games over .500. Only the Los Angeles Dodgers, next weekend's interleauge road opponent, are playoff contenders from among that group.

Then again, the Red Sox thought they could roll over the Twins last weekend and came away with a four-game split, so it's difficult to handicap these things.

It should help, too, that the Red Sox are getting healthier.

Junichi Tazawa returned this week, and Craig Kimbrel could be back as early as Monday in Seattle. Chris Young and Josh Rutledge could rejoin them before they head out on their next road swing in mid-August.

With all the talk of the daunting schedule and demanding travel ahead, Dustin Pedroia was having none of it.

"We can play just as well on the road as we have at home,'' said Pedroia. "That stuff (the schedule) is irrelevant.''

Maybe. But one way or another, we're about to find out.

Source: Sox seek smaller pieces, not big names, at trade deadline

Source: Sox seek smaller pieces, not big names, at trade deadline

BOSTON -- According to an N.L. talent evaluator who is familiar with some of the Red Sox ongoing talks with teams leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline, the Sox seem focused on adding a bullpen piece and/or back-end starters.

The need for the former is rather obvious, given the current injuries to Criag Kimbrel and Koji Uehara. The Sox can use some upgrades and another experienced arm to guide them through the final two months.

As for the rotation, it's not a surprise that the Sox aren't serious bidders for more glamorous names like Chris Sale, since that would require them to gut their farm system.

But the team's starter depth is perilous, with only Clay Buchholz in reserve. It makes perfect sense that the Sox would be seeking someone else to help provide them with insurance against further injuries or under-performance.

Will Red Sox' recent poor homestand come back to haunt them?

Will Red Sox' recent poor homestand come back to haunt them?

Lou Merloni joins Early Edition to discuss whether he thinks the Red Sox poor homestand against the Twins and Tigers will ultimately come back to haunt them.