Derek Jeter was notorious for saying that the post-dynasty Yankee clubs were "not the same team" as the one that won four rings in five years. Well, this current Yankee ballclub is not the same team that got swept by the Red Sox - twice - in April and May.
That team was 13-15 without Alex Rodriguez. Since he returned to lineup May 8, the Yanks have gone 21-8, giving them a total record of 34-23 - and first place!
So far, as I said earlier today, the $423 million the Yanks spent on CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, and A.J. Burnett has been money well spent so far. CC is pitching like an ace. Teixeira was the real AL Player of the Month. And Burnett, after some rocky starts, has pitched well his last few starts, and brings a badly-needed edge of toughness to this team. All three of them have also been personality plus in the clubhouse.
And Nick Swisher, while not a free agent, has also been a great addition, as has Francisco Cervelli.
Speaking of the new faces, I'm deciding which new player to get a numbered shirt for. I'm holding to Jon's advice to not buy one of those shirts until the All-Star Break. In the meantime, I've been rocking my new Yankee tie-dye shirt.
Anyhow, I'm feeling pretty positive about the Bombers going into Fenway Park. This series will be a real test for this team, to show that they are indeed for real. Here are my predictions for what will happen:
* Tuesday - A.J. Burnett vs. Josh Beckett: Last time these two pitchers faced off, Beckett gave up six runs, then Burnett gave up eight runs. This time, I'm thinking it's going to be the pitcher's duel promised the first time around. It could go either way, but I will give a very slight edge to Burnett.
* Wednesday: Chien-Ming Wang vs. Tim Wakefield: Wakefield is 100 years old, and still flummoxing the Yankees. Wang has been, shall we say, awful this year (although his ERA is now down to under 15!) I'd like to think the Wanger will turn it around, but I just can't see it - at least for this game. Big edge to Wakefield.
* Thursday: CC Sabathia vs. Brad Penny: Finally, CC will make his Yankee debut against Boston. I think he'll be amped up, and win the game, while Penny won't be very shiny. Edge to Sabathia.
* I think David Ortiz will hit a homer against the Yanks. But if he doesn't turn it around for this series, he may indeed be done for good.
* Jonathan Papelbon will throw a temper tantrum about something.
* Alex Rodriguez will get his usual loud boos (I figure he'll get the loudest boos), as will Derek Jeter, and Mark Teixeira will get booed much worse than he got the last time around.
* We'll see or hear at least one reference to (take your pick) A-Rod doing steroids, dating Kate Hudson, or having b*tch t*ts. (Speaking of the A-Rod/K-Hud hookup, my brother said he was surprised Alex wasn't going after Goldie Hawn!)
* Either Papelbon or Rivera will blow a save, and we will see an extra-inning game.
* Each game will be at least 4 hours long, as they tend to be.
* Phil Hughes will get several chances to pitch in this series.
* There will be at least one game that goes on until after midnight, whether it's due to a rain delay, extra innings, or just a usual slow-paced Yankee-Red Sox game!
Do you have any predictions of your own? Leave us a comment!