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Article:Red Sox: The Peyton Manning of the AL East

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[1] When the three-game series opened up Tuesday, the Red Sox and Yankees were right where they had expected to be, running neck-and-neck a top the AL East, with the Yanks one-game in front of their bitter rivals to the north.

As always, the teams are in an even battle.

Except they're not.

After sweeping the Yankees to go up by two games in the division, the Red Sox are now 8-0 against the Pinstripes this year.

This is a change from protocol.

Historically, the Yankees have always dominated the Red Sox, after Boston's delinquent management Boston shipped most of its roster (including the infamous trade of Babe Ruth) that had helped them win four World Series in the 1910s to New York, the Yankees won 26 World Series, and, until, 2004, the Red Sox won none.

In the 2004, the Red Sox had an epic comeback against the Yankees from a 3-0 games deficit to win the American League and ultimately win their first World Series in 86 years. And for the first time since the 1910s, the Red Sox gained the upper hand over the Yankees.

That was, until 2006, when the Yankees got some swagger back with what, both fan bases agree, can be called "The Boston Massacre." In a tight battle for the division, as usual, the teams entered a five-game series. Red Sox fans were optimistic that the second place Sox could take the division lead with a good series.

That didn't happen.

In fact, the Sox didn't win a game and were sent into a tailspin that forced them to miss their first (and only to-date) playoffs since 2002.

But, in 2007, the Red Sox again reined supreme, when they ended the Yankees nine-year string of division championships and went on to win their second World Series in four years, and last season, the Red Sox held onto that supremacy, when the Yankees failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 1994.

In the off-season, the Yankees decided it was time to reload and build a winner again. They spent well over $400 million on just three free agents in an attempt to return to glory.

While the Yankees are playing just fine this season (34-26 entering Friday's play), they're considered far from successful because the Red Sox have flat out embarrassed the New Yorkers this season.

Fittingly, two of the three free agents (A.J. Burnett and C.C. Sabathia) suffered losses in the most recent sweep, while, the third, Mark Teixeira, made the last out in the third game yesterday.

Tuesday, it made sense that Red Sox ace, Josh Beckett, could out duel A.J. Burnett, and Wednesday night it wasn't surprising that the Red Sox did damage against a struggling Chien-Ming Wang, but Thursday definitely favored the Yankees, with C.C. Sabathia (who owns one of the richest free agent contracts in history) going against the back of the Sox rotation in Brad Penny.

The Yankees almost pulled off their first win, until the Red Sox lineup, which had been shut down all night, broke out for the three runs in the eighth and Jonathan Papelbon closed the door on a 4-3 win for Boston in the ninth.

At this point, the AL East this decade appears roughly equivalent to the Manning family: -The Yankees are like Cooper. They were the best at the beginning, so they could bully around everyone else early on, but then they just became noticeably normal and nobody thinks they're tough anymore. -The Red Sox are like Peyton. Once they hit their full stride, they are are clearly the superior one in the group and have had the most success. -Keeping with the theme, the Rays would be like Eli. They're young and won something recently (2008-AL East/Super Bowl), but still nobody gives them any respect.

So, what happened? What went so wrong for the Yankees? How did they end up in a situation to be compared to Peyton Manning's older brother!?

It's simple: the Red Sox know how to build a franchise, the Yankees do not.

In this day of sabermetrics, prospect scouting, and minor league development, the Red Sox have truly mastered the system. Going around the field the Red Sox drafted and developed Kevin Youkilis (1B), Dustin Pedroia (2B), Jed Lowrie, (SS-currently on the DL), Jacoby Ellsbury (CF), Jon Lester (SP), Justin Masterson (SP/RP), Jonathan Papelbon (CL), Manny Delcarmen (RP), and Daniel Bard (RP). Meanwhile, the Red Sox have maximized their farm system to trade for some other key players. Josh Beckett (SP) and Mike Lowell (3B) were both a result of a Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez deal with the Florida Marlins.

In fact, when it comes to free agents, the big money the Red Sox have shelled out have caused the most headaches to club's fan base: J.D. Drew (RF), Julio Lugo (SS), and Daisuke Matsuzaka (SP).

This might explain why Yankees fans have had so many recent headaches themselves. The Yankees have insisted on signing their talent instead of developing it. (Please don't cite Joba Chamberlin here as a counter example, you ignorant Yankee fan! I just named nine Red Sox players they drafted and developed.) Admittedly, the Yankees do have some homegrown talent on the field: 1990 draft picks, Jorge Posada at catcher and Andy Pettitte at starting pithcer; 1992 draft pick, Derek Jeter at shorstop; and, the uninspiring Brett Gardner in centerfield. (Can you hear the sarcasm jumping off your computer screen!?)

Other than that, most all of the Yankees have ended up in the Bronx because of the money: 1B, Teixeira; 3B, Alex Rodriguez; LF, Johnny Damon; RF, Nick Swisher; DH, Hideki Matsui; SPs, Sabathia, Burnett, and Wang.

Even players like Mariano Rivera, Robinson Cano, and everybody's least favorite player, Melky Cabrera, who have played all their games in pinstripes were undrafted signees.

Ultimately, the Yankees have come to rely too much on paying for championships, and in today's baseball world that just doesn't work anymore.

Look at Tampa, who (as previously mentioned) won the AL East and made it to the World Series last year, and you'll see homegrown talent. Look at the team with the best record this season, the Dodgers, Manny Ramirez aside, that team is built mostly around homegrown talent.

Until the Yankees, take the emphasis off shelling out more money than any other team and instead focus on developing a minor league system that produces the majority of their team, they'll continue to lag far behind the Red Sox and wonder why they never make a championship run.

And, until then, I'll continue to compare them to Cooper Manning. Thank you very much!

--Originally posted at http://jtstally.blogspot.com/ --


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