|Tonight’s game at Fenway is the first of 19 games the Yanks will play against the Sox, and it is bound to be a doozy. Both teams cruised to the playoffs as usual last year, with the Yanks beating the Sox out for the division title by winning 10 of the 18 games they played against each other. The Yanks and Sox haven’t had much trouble making it to the post-season for years now, but with teams like Cleveland and Toronto heating up they are going to need to play even harder to beat out the rest of the AL. The competition for the American League playoff spots is probably the best it’s been in my lifetime, and it is very possible that 2006 could be the year that Boston is left out of the playoffs—and who better to boot them out than the Yankees?
The post-season and whether or not Boston (or even New York, though I like to think there’s a good chance) will be there is an interesting topic, but what’s on everyone’s minds as they tune into ESPN for the game tonight is Mr. Johnny Damon. All eyes will be on him as he marches into his old home stadium wearing pinstripes for the first time. Boston’s boisterous fans will surely be vocal about their former hero, and it is unlikely that Damon will be able to walk anywhere—be it from the bus to the clubhouse or the dugout to the mound—without being accosted by reporters or hollered at by fans. Other Sox-to-Yanks players like Roger Clemens and Wade Boggs were booed mercilessly during their first outings in pinstripes in Boston, and it seemed to only deepen their resolve to win for the Yanks. The last time he was in Fenway Park he was the enemy. This year, with his intimate knowledge of Boston’s players and Fenway’s terrain, Damon could be the key to a Boston-free October.