It seems only fitting that the last series before the 2012 All-Star break for the Red Sox involves the Yankees coming to town. The ancient rivals have only played twice so far this season, way back in late April (so long ago that the Bruins were still alive in the playoffs). With the last game of that series in Boston being rained out, that's why the two teams will play four times this weekend, including a day-night doubleheader on Saturday. With this in mind, here are three things to keep in mind while you look for D-list celebrities (Lenny Clarke, Mike O'Malley, Denis Leary, etc.) in the stands.
Yankees up 7.5 games
Unless you're employed by Fenway Sports Group, I think it's easy to admit that the odds of the Red Sox winning the AL East this season are pretty far-fetched. For instance, if New York wins three games in this series, they'll be up 9.5 games on Boston heading into the All-Star break. If they sweep, the Red Sox would be down an absurd 11.5 games while also being under .500 (42-44). Realistically, the only way Boston will make the playoffs is one of the two Wild Card spots in the American League.
Still MLB's best rivalry
I can't pretend that Red Sox-Yankees has the same luster that it once did earlier in the past decade when both were World Series contenders every season. But name me a better current matchup in MLB? Giants-Dodgers has too many stabbings for my liking and Cubs-Cardinals is cute. But Chicago is usually terrible, so where is the competition there?
Yes, Sox-Yankees games always take way too long since both lineups routinely work the count, use a plethora of relievers and put up many runs. However, if you went to college in the Northeast, you know many Yankees fans, which is part of what makes these contests so fun. A little Red Sox-Yankees trash talk never hurt anybody and isn't regional bragging rights what it always boils down to?
Smoke and mirrors
Props to the Yankees. They've been the 2nd best team in MLB (half game behind the Rangers) despite suffering a season-ending injury to their soon to be Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera on May 3. More recently, they lost ace C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte (who somehow has been effective after returning from retirement) to injuries. Looking at New York's numbers reveals that it has probably been overachieving. Their run differential is plus-58 which is only eight better than the Red Sox. The Yankees have scored 27 runs less than the Red Sox but allowed 35 runs fewer than Boston. This is a long way of saying that a team that relies so much on home runs is likely to fall back a bit in the second half. I'd be shocked if they come close to 100 wins with this patchwork rotation and old lineup.