When a sports team wins the championship, the following season they have a tendency to struggle maintaining the same level of success. The Boston Red Sox certainly know what that is like currently sitting below .500 and recently suffering a 10 game losing streak that included some lackluster defense. Whether it was the added pressure from winning last season, the loss of key position players, or a playoff hangover, Boston hasn’t looked anywhere near the team that won it all last year. But the Red Sox luck may have changed alongside a blooming rivalry with the Tampa Bay Rays.
The turnaround looks to be on the right track with the Sox following up their dismal losing streak with a seven game win streak attempting to right the ship. The turnaround may very well have started at the pinnacle of uncertainty in game 10, (of the losing streak) as Yunel Escobar woke up the lifeless Red Sox with a few choice words between him and the Boston dugout a bench clearing brawl ensued, already famous in Boston lore for outfielder Jonny Gomes charging into the fight from left field.
Yet out of a fight that looked more like a weak last effort, the Red Sox have suddenly began playing like a team again, performing the little tasks that win games like sac flies an sound defense, sweeping the Atlanta Braves despite Atlanta having a roster that appears more talented and a record well over .500.
However, with the Red Sox suddenly back to winning after their four game sweep, they were tasked with another series against their new found AL East Rivals this time at Fenway Park, and the rivalry just kept heating up.
With Boston taking the the first two games of the series in well played games, David Price of the Rays would kickstart the tension by hitting Boston’s David Ortiz in the first inning of Game 3. Price claimed he was only attempting to command the inside of the plate, but a short look back at the history between the two there appears to be a greater motive. With Ortiz’s two home run performance just half a year ago against Price in the playoffs it is assumed that Price remains bitter about the ordeal and felt the need to pay Ortiz back.
Things really got out of control however in the fourth when Price once again beaned a Boston player, this time Mike Carp causing the second bench clearing event in a weeks time between the two teams. Not only were expletives said on the field but shots were fired off the field as David Ortiz came out with harsh words saying Price acted like “a little girl” and that he had lost all respect for Price.
Not sitting idly by, Price responded with insults of his own claiming Ortiz “acts like he is bigger than the game” harsh words, but the true impact of the battle between the two teams can only truly be measure by the success of the teams and since the initial bench clearing brawl. The Red Sox have won seven straight while the Rays have lost six straight dropping to 23-34 on the season.
As of right now the battle between the two teams looks to have lit a match under Boston while dragging Tampa Bay further into turmoil, but how the effects of the ordeal as a whole will impact both teams, and when if ever another chapter in the rivalry will unfold is yet to be seen.