Who Will Be the Red Sox Rivals This Year?

Everyone in Red Sox Nation took a collective sigh when the New York Yankees signed Giancarlo Stanton. As much as Sox fans hate to admit it, the Yankees are now an offensive threat to all other American League teams. Along with Stanton, the Yankees also have 2017 Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge, as well as Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, and Brett Gardner, all 20+ season HR winners. But is it time for another team to replace the Yankees? If the Red Sox rivals aren’t the Yankees anymore, then who?

The Baltimore Orioles Could Be The New Red Sox Rivals

The Red Sox rival this season could be the Baltimore Orioles. Bad blood erupted betweenred sox rivalry the two teams last season when the O’s Manny Machado slid into Dustin Pedroia in a mid-April game. While it didn’t look intentional, it sparked a string of near-brawls. The following day Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes almost hit Manny Machado in the head. A few weeks later, the Baltimore Orioles travelled to Fenway Park where outfielder Adam Jones became the target of bigots who allegedly shouted racial epithets at him. While Red Sox Nation showed respect by giving him a standing ovation at his first at-bat the following game, it did little to quell the intensity.

It Could Also Be The Rays

The Boston Red Sox fell to the Rays in their first game of the season 6-4 despite a masterful pitching performance by Chris Sale. Many in Red Sox Nation, including me, have often taken the Tampa Bay Rays for granted given that they haven’t been real playoff contenders for a while. The Red Sox pulled off a win in their home opener on April 5th, but it was a 13-inning nail biter that probably shouldn’t have lasted as long as it did. Think about it for a minute. Every time the Rays come to Boston, or the team goes to Tampa Bay, it ends up being a tougher series to win than anyone initially thought. So the Rays could potentially be the Red Sox rivals in secret. (This rivalry isn’t likely anymore though after Xander Bogaerts’ grand slam in during the second inning of the April 7th game at Fenway Park).

Regardless, the 2018 season is shaping up to be one of the best for the Red Sox. They’re on a hot streak, and this could potentially be a World Series year for them.

Manny Machado: The New Red Sox Villain

Since Alex Rodriguez’s career collapsed like the Atlanta Falcons, there has not really Red Sox villainbeen a bonafide Red Sox villain—that is, until last weekend. By now, almost every baseball fan is aware of the situation involving the Red Sox and Orioles; specifically Manny Machado.

History

Whether or not his slide was dirty is now beyond the current state of affairs. At this point, it’s all about baseball’s unwritten rules surrounding things like hit batsmen, home run trots, and team retaliation.

Matt Barnes tried to retaliate and failed, ultimately getting suspended. His attempt to bean Machado in the head actually hit the bat. Then, of course, Machado decides to pimp every home run he hits against the Sox now, which I guess is well deserved. Betts also got beaned on a pitch by Dylan Bundy on Monday.

Needless to say there have been lots of fireworks lately, but nothing compared to what occurred Tuesday night. Moments after the Fenway crowd respectfully recognized Adam Jones, Chris Sale threw behind Manny Machado. This prompted warnings to both sides. It also prompted Manny Machado to exchange choice words with both the Red Sox dugout and the home plate umpire. However, the slugger did take Sale yard only to combine it with a pair of three K’s. Now, he seems to be the subject of every local sports talk show and a chorus of boos.

So he’s the new Red Sox villain, right? I believe so.

One does not simply go on a post-game profanity laden tirade and not be a villain. Especially when he claims to lose all respect for your organization. Secondly, when he takes his sweet old time rounding the bases twice consecutively and has a history of such behavior, why wouldn’t he be the new Joker to the Red Sox Batman?

This Red Sox team needed a spark. Now, Machado has given the Sox the extra incentive to beat up on the current first place team. We shall see how the next meeting goes.