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AUGUST 30, 2004
Check The Yankees & Red Sox In 2 Weeks
By Steve Lombardi, NetShrine.com

As of this morning, the top of the American League East standings appear as follows:

Place

Team

Wins Losses Games Back

1

New York Yankees

81 49 --

2

Boston Red Sox

76 53 4.5


With just five weeks left to the 2004 baseball season, it should be an interesting race to the crown between long time rivals New York and Boston. 

The Yankees have 32 games remaining on their schedule and the Red Sox have 33 games to play. Further, New York and Boston have 6 head-to-head (HTH) games on their docket – three each at Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium.

In 13 HTH games so far this year, Boston has beaten New York 8 times. The Red Sox are also red hot at the moment – having won 20 of their last 26 games (albeit that 23 of those games were against teams that were under .500 at the time of their meeting). In fact, the blazing Sox have cut 6 games off the Yankees lead in just two weeks. (The Yankees lead had been 10 ˝ games over Boston after the games of August 15, 2004.)

There is plenty of reason for optimism amongst the members of Red Sox Nation and equal amount of cause for concern in Camp Steinbrenner. All the pieces for a remarkable comeback story seem to be in place………or, are they?

The Yankees have 32 games to play – 20 at home and 12 on the road. The Red Sox have 33 games to play – 16 at home and 17 on the road. To date this season, the strength of both Boston and New York has been their play at home. The home-away breakdown in games remaining could favor New York, with the majority of their games to be played at Yankee Stadium.

What about the opponents in each team’s remaining games?

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Baltimore Orioles will play huge roles in determining who wins the A.L. East this year. 

Boston has 6 games remaining with Tampa Bay (3 at home and 3 on the road). New York has 5 games remaining with Tampa Bay (all to be played in the Bronx). Boston has 8 games remaining with Baltimore (4 at home and 4 on the road). New York has 6 games remaining with Baltimore (3 at home and 3 on the road).

So far this season, New York has had no trouble with the Devil Rays and Orioles – going 21-6 against the two teams combined. Boston has struggled against the Orioles this year (just 4 wins in 11 games) and they are 14-10 in games against Baltimore and Tampa Bay, combined.

If these performances continue to follow trends, this could be a slight advantage for New York.

New York also has six more games with the Toronto Blue Jays (3 at home and 3 on the road). So far this season, the Yankees have feasted on the Blue Jays, winning 10 of 13 contests. This could be another advantage for New York.

Outside of all these remaining games mentioned, Boston has 13 other games and New York has 9 games.

The Boston games are against some very strong teams: Oakland, Seattle, Anaheim, and Texas. (The Oakland and Seattle games – 7 of the 13 – are on the road.) The New York games are against Minnesota, Kansas City, and Cleveland. (All are at home sans the Royals series.) How about a prediction on these games?

It would not be unreasonable to expect the Yankees to win 5 of their 9 games and for the Red Sox to win 8 of their 13. 

Just to carry out the prediction fun a little further, say that New York and Boston split their six HTD games. This would move Boston one game closer to New York in the standings – combined with the aforementioned predictions on the 13 and 9 games. Instead of 4 ˝ back, it would be 3 ˝ back – and the Boston games against Tampa Bay and Baltimore, and the Yankee games against Tampa Bay, Baltimore, and Toronto would make or break the Red Sox chances to catch New York.

In many ways, this is the way it should be, according to the scrawling on this scorecard – teams in the division determining who wins the division.

This is all one possible breakdown of the total remaining games. Now, let us suppose that the Red Sox win 5 out of the 6 HTH games with New York. This would then put Boston ˝ game behind New York with the Sox having 27 other games and the Yankees having 26 other games. 

Boston would play Tampa Bay and Baltimore for 14 games and New York would play Tampa Bay and Baltimore for 11 games. Boston would play 13 other games against Oakland, Seattle, Anaheim, and Texas. New York would play 15 other games against Toronto, Cleveland, Minnesota, and Kansas City.

Assume the Devil Rays and Orioles games are a wash. Then it comes down to Boston playing the A.L. West; and, New York playing part of the A.L. Central and Toronto to determine who gets 1st in the A.L. East. Would this not somewhat favor New York? For the record, Boston is 12-11 so far this season versus Oakland, Seattle, Anaheim, and Texas, combined. New York is 16-6 so far this year versus Toronto, Cleveland, Minnesota, and Kansas City, overall.

Obviously, the games will be played and the chips will fall where they may, and whoever wins the A.L. East is the team that deserves to have won the crown. But, the race seems to be somewhat more uphill for Boston. Perhaps Red Sox Nation should temper that optimism and the “Evil Empire” should not worry so much about objects in the rear view mirror? Conceivably, it may make more sense to get excited or nervous if the standings are still close around September 14th.

In any event, as mentioned herein at the outset, it should be an interesting race. Enjoy the games.


Steve Lombardi is the Creator & Curator of NetShrine.com.  Scrawling On The Scorecard appears regularly during the baseball season and sporadically during the off-season.  Steve can be contacted at sots@netshrine.com

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