The Red Sox Brawling With the Yankees is Good for Baseball

After nearly a decade of dormancy, MLB's biggest rivalry is back.

April 12, 2018 9:22 am
Tyler Austin #26 of the New York Yankees fights with Joe Kelly #46 of the Boston Red Sox after being hit by a pitch during the seventh inning of a game on April 11, 2018 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The play led to a benches clearing argument. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
Tyler Austin #26 of the New York Yankees fights with Joe Kelly #46 of the Boston Red Sox after being hit by a pitch during the seventh inning of a game on April 11, 2018 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. The play led to a benches clearing argument. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)
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The long-simmering rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees was revived again on Wednesday after tempers flared and benches cleared (twice) – and that’s a good thing.

Following nearly a decade of being must-watch television during the 2000s, the divisional matchups between the longtime rivals (the all-time regular-season series sits at ‎1,194-1,004–14 in favor of the Yankees) have gone stale in recent years.

There are a number of reasons for that (audience fatigue, discrepancies in talent from year to year, the games rarely taking under three hours), with the biggest one being the teams on the field didn’t seem to have any general dislike for each other.

After 10 years of well-earned bad blood – A-Rod trying to slap the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove, Pedro Martinez throwing down Don Zimmer, Jason Varitek stuffing his glove in A-Rod’s face – things between the Red Sox and Yankees were cordial and very, very ordinary.

That started to change a little last year when, aided by an influx of young players on both sides (Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi on the Sox and Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez on the Yanks), interest in the rivalry started to be rekindled, leading to ESPN securing its best audience figure for a “Sunday Night Baseball” telecast of 2017 during a Boston/New York broadcast.

Both teams advanced to the playoffs last season for the first time in years – and lost to the Astros. That led to an old-school arms race during the offseason that saw New York bring in slugger Giancarlo Stanton and the Red Sox add power bat J.D. Martinez in a corresponding move.

Which brings us to the fracas that occurred last night in Boston that saw the benches clear in the second inning when New York’s Tyler Austin spiked Boston shortstop Brock Holt after he slid into second base with his cleats up and again in the seventh inning after Sox reliever Joe Kelly drilled Austin in the ribs, prompting the Yankee hitter to charge the mound.

Who is Tyler Austin? Who is Joe Kelly? MLB is thinking: Who cares?

Punches were thrown, heated words were exchanged and, just like that, the rivalry was back.

With the NBA and NHL playoffs just starting up and the NFL Draft on the way, it couldn’t come at a better time for baseball.

There are at least 17 games left between these two teams this year – including’s tonight – and you can bet people will be watching.

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