When I was in college my friends and I played a game in which we would each get a turn coming up with a question for the group along the lines of “would you rather _____ or _____?”. Depending on sobriety levels, the general depravity-levels of the participants on any given evening, and the level of trust in the group, the kinds of actions that would fill those blanks would range from the near-unimaginable to the stomach-turningly grotesque. We’d informally grade each other on the imagination reflected in the question and in the justifications each responder gave for why he chose one disgusting act over another.
It’s with this in mind that I ask: Would you – standing here on September 4, 2012 looking forward to both one more month of the 2012 regular season as well as to the 2013 season and beyond – rather be a Yankee fan or a Red Sox fan?
Let’s dispense with one thing right away: we know nobody here is about to switch loyalties – no need for chest-thumping about how dedicated you are to your team vs. the hated rival.
But which team do you think is better positioned looking forward?
I have to say – and it gives me no pleasure to do so – that I envy the position the Sox are in right now and would actually happily trade their prospective fortunes for those of the Yankees right now. In fact, I don’t think it’s even close. Not so much in terms of the recent past or present – after all, the end of 2011 and the entire 2012 season for the Red Sox has been much more fun for YFs to follow than for SFs to be sure. And while the Sox have no chance to make the playoffs this year, the Yanks still hold the second-best record in the AL and should still be playing meaningful games in October, though there is certainly no guarantee of that.
But once this season ends, the Yankees will still own arguably the worst contract in baseball (the only one that could have competed for that title was just off-loaded by Boston to the Dodgers) which will only get more and more exposed each year, a very old and defensively-creaky left-infield, a starting rotation in which the two most exciting young members have proven again and again that they are no better than #4/5 starters at best, and an outfield of defensive and offensive mediocrity.
I would still take the Yankee ownership and management over the Sox, though depending on what the Sox do with all that cash weighing them down right now, that could change as well. And I wouldn’t trade anything for the thrill of watching Jeter and Mariano play out the careers that I’ve followed every step of the way. But these are two players, not a team.
At the end of the day, the Sox ripped the band-aid off about as quickly as it can be done, even if there are some holdovers (John Lackey and Bobby Valentine are still wearing Sox uniforms). And they did it while holding onto a lot of exciting young talent (Buccholz, Lester, Ellsbury, Ciriaco, Middlebrooks) in addition to their core (Pedroia). Unless you feel that the Yankees have a solid foundation upon which to rebuild – and I don’t see how you can feel that way given the advanced age of that foundation and the resulting cracks that are becoming apparent – you’d have to concede that the Sox are in an enviable position going forward.