The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox often seem joined at the hip in many ways. You can't think of one without the other, and American League baseball is infinitely better when the two are battling for a playoff spot as the season winds down.
Could it be that the rival actually ... need each? Especially now, with both teams scuffling.
Here is Yankee Manager Joe Girardi on that topic, speaking after his team lost a second straight game to the Kansas City Royals and fell out of first place in the AL East:
"Maybe it’s what we need," Girardi said. "Maybe we need the Red Sox to come in. Everything seems to get turned up, the coverage, the intensity. The games seem to take on a new flavor. Each at-bat seems to take on a new game of its own. Maybe it is the right time. I don’t know. But I know we’re capable of playing much better. And we need to start doing that."
Red Sox beat writer Sean McAdam addressed the same topic today. The situation is more urgent for Boston, which is five games back in the standings and still has not reached .500 this season.
Perhaps the Red Sox need some urgency, some cold slap in the face that the season is slipping. When they return home to Fenway late Sunday night, the schedule will be almost exactly one-quarter complete.
If that fact of life doesn't get the Red Sox' attention, the presence of the Yankees might.
In past years, the Red Sox have suffered letdowns after showdown series with their rivals. Maybe this season, the process has been reversed and the Sox need the presence of the Yanks to be fully motivated and engaged.
The Yankees and Red Sox have had a bizarre, symbiotic relationship since at least 2003, each measuring against the other. This weekend could be the perfect time for the Sox to take notice of the standings and do something about it.
Could make for an interesting weekend. Somehow, meetings between these two teams always are.