The Yankees and Red Sox won 92 games and neither is in the World Series, meaning they are among the 28 teams who have had end of the year press conferences to sum up a season and start planning for next season even though there is uncertainty about the financial parameters.
While the Yankees and Red Sox shared the similar win total, their respective endings to this season highlighted some of the differences in the longtime rivals.
The Yankees endured one of the most tedious 92-win seasons you will ever see, flailing through most of the first half, winning 13 straight in late August and stumbling in the middle of September. The inconsistencies forced the Yankees to clinch a playoff berth on Oct. 3 in the most appropriate way, a 1-0 win decided in their last at-bat.
The Red Sox were an unexpected 92-win team after their steps back following their 2018 title. They defended their fourth title with 84 wins in 2019, then finished last in the pandemic 2020 season when they used 16 starting pitchers, many of the opener variety and many of the random name variety.
The Yankees ended their season with a disappointing 6-2 loss at Fenway thus preventing them from a rematch with the Rays in the Division Series. While it is possible that they might have won that series, it also seems feasible to think that at best they would take the Rays to a Game 5 before falling short.
By beating the Yankees and getting to Gerrit Cole early, the Red Sox earned the chance to beat the Rays and they promptly did so. After getting shutout in the opener, they scored 14 times to even the series and then won the series at home thanks to a pair of walk-off victories.
Ultimately the Red Sox saw their bats go cold after Game 3 of the ALCS against Houston but before their bats appeared similar to the cold Yankee bats of the 2012 sweep by the Detroit Tigers, they scored 25 times in the first three games.
For the Red Sox the end to first season of Alex Cora’s second stint came with a 5-0 loss on Friday, resulting in a season-ending press conference that took place later than expected when preseason predictions were made and a year after they were getting ridiculed for trading Mookie Betts, a move that still is dubious but slightly less painful due to the emergence of Alex Verdugo.
Unlike the Yankee post-mortem which took place last Tuesday with the announcement manager Aaron Boone was returning on a three-year deal, the Red Sox wrap up featured themes of optimism for a team who has won four titles since 2004, winning the last three after taking small steps back to retool.
“Even if we went all the way and won the whole thing, we wanted to come out of it feeling like this could be the start of something,” Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom told reporters Monday. “We fell six wins short of that ultimate goal,” Bloom said. “But I think in terms of this being the start of something, in terms of us feeling like we have a bunch of guys who joined this group who are ready to help us win going forward, I think we’re there.”
The Yankees remained firmly optimistic and steadfast in their belief in what their roster looked like even as a series of “gut-punch” losses unfolded in the first half. They continued to believe in the roster through an improved second half that featured some of the same peaks and valleys.
Bloom’s remarks contrasted that with GM Brian Cashman, who conceded that the product on the field often was “unwatchable”, echoing the belief that the 92-win season was a tedious marathon.
During his nearly 60 minutes virtually speaking to reporters last week, Cashman spent most of the time discussing the roster he handed Boone, who he never had a doubt about retaining.
Among the things Cashman conceded was Gleyber Torres is not a shortstop, essentially saying he is likely seeking a shortstop in some form whether it’s free agency or a trade.
Multiple times, Cashman said the buck starts with him and at one point, he said that a manager is only as good as the roster he has.
Seven months ago, the Yankee roster was considered a favorite to win the AL East and one of the favorites to win the World Series. It turned out to feature numerous flaws and the Yankees still overcame them to win 92 times, albeit it not easily.
At that point, it was intriguing to see what Cora’s third team with the Red Sox would look like. They knew they had some steady hitters in Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and Christian Vazquez but did not know how good Nathan Eovaldi and Eduardo Rodriguez would be.
The Yankees were anticipating a big season from Cole and while he did produce a decent season, he was not ace-like at times and appeared to be a different pitcher at times after the foreign substance crackdown of June.
New York got the most consistent season of Aaron Judge’s career, a terrific season from Giancarlo Stanton but consistency was fleeting from players such as Gary Sanchez and DJ LeMahieu, though it’s likely the hernia impacted LeMahieu.
Regardless of how they got to the middle of October, both teams were among those holding end of the season press conferences. The Red Sox end of season wrap up was one of optimism for an unexpected season while the Yankee version projected a theme of disappointment for a team that has the lowest batting average (.207) in baseball from its left-handed hitters.
Both teams have work to do for next season, but the contrasts in their summing up this season were noticeable.