Yankees vs. Astros and The Building of a Rivalry

As a Yankees fan, the main rivalry for my New York Yankees has always been with the Boston Red Sox. It’s a rivalry that’s stood the test of time and has lasted well over a century now. From when Harry Frazee sold the contract of Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1919 to fund his musical, “No, No, Nanette”, and that sparked the Curse of the Bambino for Boston, in which they would go championship-less for 86 years, experiencing postseason heartbreak after painful postseason heartbreak.

To me, the best rivalries revolve around postseason matchups & over my lifetime, the ones that built over the course of a few seasons would include the Angels, and most recently, the Astros. For a few seasons there in 2002 & 2005, it seemed that Mike Scioscia’s Angels had the Yankees’ number, defeating New York in the Divisional Series both years, but that demon was slayed in 2009 when the Yankees finally defeated the Angels in the American League Championship Series en route to their 27th World Series Championship.

In the years following that Championship, one team has risen to prominence in the Yankees’ crosshairs: The Houston Astros. After being realigned to the American League West from the National League Central Division, the Yankees would begin suffering playoff defeats at the hands of the Astros two years later, starting in the 2015 American League Wild Card Game. Two years after that, the teams would meet up again…this time, in the American League Championship Series, where the two seemingly evenly-matched teams took the entire 7-game series to decide the AL Pennant winner. The Astros bested the Yankees again on the backs of top-notch pitching and timely hitting. (We’ll come back to this later on.) Another two years later, the same two teams met again…same scenario. Astros-Yankees, American League Championship Series. Again, same outcome…except, the Yankees were ousted in 6 games.

However after the 2019 campaign, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich published an investigation, chronicling the Houston Astros’ use of cameras during the 2017 season to illegally steal signs from opponents. After further investigation, it was determined that the Astros indeed did steal signs and relayed them to their batters by banging on a garbage can in the dugout. And there’s even speculation that Astros’ superstar, Jose Altuve, during the on-field celebration after the 2019 ALCS Game 6 victory, that he was wearing some sort of wire since he refused to take his jersey off even when his teammates tried to get him to loosen up to celebrate.

Major League Baseball came down hard on the Astros, and rightfully so, but the team was permitted to keep their Championship. A number of the players and coaches associated with those teams have had their professional lives put on hold for a year or more. Both Alex Cora & Carlos Beltran had their Managerial jobs with the Red Sox and Mets (respectively) taken away, and were suspended from Major League Baseball for a year. The Red Sox, the fine, upstanding franchise that they are, hired Cora back the following year while Beltran remains a baseball television analyst.

After the defeats at the hands of the Astros, and the Astros’ subsequent World Series Championship victory, Yankees players tweeted congratulations to the Astros. However, after the sign stealing investigation found the Astros guilty, Yankees’ superstars, Aaron Judge deleted his tweet while Giancarlo Stanton has been quoted saying that the year he hit 59 home runs, he could’ve hit 80 had he known what was coming. Even Yankees’ General Manager, Brian Cashman has vented on the 2017 season. So now, we’re back at that familiar spot. Yankees-Astros, ALCS. Some of the names have changed, but the teams are still the same. Oh yeah, it’s personal.

The Astros and the Yankees are the #1 and #2 teams in the American League this year. The Astros defeated the Yankees in 5 of 7 meetings during the season and are the biggest hurdle any American League team has had to face the last few years. They’ve been a powerhouse, they’ve cheated, but they’ve continued to win throughout it all. They swept the Seattle Mariners in the Divisional Series but have only played 3 games over the span of 12 days. So they’re well rested, but the Yankees just gutted out a 5-Game ALDS victory over the Cleveland Guardians who pushed the Yankees to the brink of elimination, forcing the Yankees to win two elimination games, the second happening just last night due to bad weather conditions in New York. The Yankees sent two messages last night…

First to the Guardians: you have no shot today.

And then to the Astros: we’re coming for you.

The rivalry continues tonight. Hopefully the Yankees can put this one away and finally return to the World Series for the first time since 2009. Only time will tell.


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