BOSTON — Whenever the Red Sox and New York Yankees square off in 2017, it likely will feel like something is missing.
David Ortiz is playing his final season in Boston, while Alex Rodriguez will play his last game with the Yankees on Friday. New York first baseman Mark Teixeira also announced the 2016 season would be his last, leaving the rivalry without most of its centerpieces.
But don’t expect it to end.
“Certainly it’ll feel different,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said Tuesday. “I can’t say (the rivalry will) be less important or less of a focal point. I think that’ll always remain given the cities and the history of both organizations.
“As I mentioned, the game moves on. The names are going to change, as it did when Alex and David and (Jason Varitek) and Jorge (Posada) and all those names came in. So this is just the game turning to the next generation. And I don’t anticipate the games will be any less exciting or any less meaningful or a focal point, as I mentioned.”
Ortiz agreed with Farrell ahead of Thursday’s Red Sox-Yankees matchup, acknowledging that he and A-Rod aren’t the only players who make the rivalry.
“This rivalry has been going on for a long time,” Ortiz said. “We both have been part of it for a long time. … As a player you get to — historically, people are always going to remember the things that you do, but it will never end as far as baseball continues going. There’s always going to be new players coming in, guys having a remarkable career and do what the players in the past did, do what the players are doing right now, and they’re going to be the future. ”
Right now, the future is guys like Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts and shortstop Xander Bogaerts, as well as Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius. Plus, the Red Sox still have Dustin Pedroia and New York has Jacoby Ellsbury, both of whom have been a part of the rivalry for years.
Fans just have to consider themselves lucky they witnessed some of the most competitive years between the Red Sox and Yankees and wait for the next generation to take shape.
“Obviously an extremely productive player,” Farrell said of A-Rod on Tuesday. “We’re fortunate to be able to see a guy in a very intense rivalry. So when this situation comes up or others like it come out, I think you first reflect on how great a player he was, the fortunate ability to see him field level.
“But then I think you also recognize the game doesn’t stop for anyone. This rivalry has been dominated by big-time players, big names, and yet, that next group of names is going to take prominence here after the three guys that we’re looking at in 2016 being their final year.”
Thumbnail photo via William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Apr 3, 2013; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees infielder Alex Rodriguez (right) talks with Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz (left) before the game at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports