Big League Rivalry At The Minor League Level?

Every year, a lot is made of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry playing out between the Trenton Thunder and Portland Sea Dogs at the Double-A level.

It’s good fodder for reporter’s notebooks, can put some passionate fans in the dark green seats of Waterfront Park and is the talk of the front office.

But does anyone else really care?  Well…

“Sometimes, I think it’s more for the fans,” said Justin Masterson, who pitched in the last postseason series between Portland and Trenton.

“But you have a little bit of (a rivalry) when you’re playing a team of the Yankees.  There’s probably more hype and a sense of ‘we just want to beat these guys,’ just because it’s the Yankees.”

Masterson, who is now in the bullpen for the Boston Red Sox, ended up on the losing end of Game 1 of the Eastern League Division Series against Trenton last year. 

“I think even at that point, I think you’re still more of a fan because you’re not to the major leagues yet,” Masterson said.

“Yeah, you’re playing baseball but you’ve still kind of got that fan aspect.  So maybe there is a little more of that within the players, where we’re like, ‘Oh yeah, we’re playing the Yankees affiliate, so we’ve got to get these guys.’  As you go up, it’s still there, but there’s still friendships and things like that.  I just think that aspect maybe allows it to be a little different, a little heightened sense of urgency when you’re in those games.”

Thunder manager Tony Franklin didn’t seem to think much of the Red Sox-Yankees side of the series either.

“We’re going to play hard against them, just like we play hard against everyone else,” he said.

“We want to beat everybody we play, that’s just the way it is.  I don’t think there’s any more incentive to beat them just because they’re the Red Sox.  I think that happens a lot more at the Major League level than it does here at the minor league level, it’s a little bit more intense up there.”

In terms of development, players who are facing each other in this series for their respective affiliates could eventually face each other at the big league level.

But according to none other than Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, there’s no big advantage gained in the big leagues from facing someone at the minor league level.

“Well, you don’t come up with all of them,” Ortiz said.

“Sometimes you face them, and it’s a totally different game.  It just depends on the way you prepare when you’re there.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT


4 Responses to “Big League Rivalry At The Minor League Level?”

  1. David Mac Says:

    Here is Tony Franklin in August 2007, as the Thunder faced the Sea Dogs: “You don’t even have to buy into it (the rivalry) – it’s already there. They’re Red Sox, we’re Yankees. That’s just the way it is.”

    “When you get to the big leagues, the rivalry’s certainly going to be there, so you might as well start believing in it now. I didn’t think it was real when I first got here, but it is -anywhere you go.”

    Times of Trenton “Error allows Thunder to outlast Sea Dogs”, August 15, 2007. By David McDonough

  2. River Ave. Blues | Calm before the playoff storm Says:

    […] Double-A Trenton’s regular season is over. They take on the Portland Sea Dogs (Red Sox) in the first round of the playoffs starting tomorrow. Eric Hacker faces Kris Johnson in Game 1, while Jeff Marquez draws Clay Buchholz in Game 2. Mike Ashmore broke down the matchup, and also talked about the Trenton-Portland rivalry. […]

  3. Joseph DelGrippo Says:

    The Triple A playoff series between Scranton and Pawtucket is also Yankees vs. Red Sox.

    With the Red Sox organization being more aggressive than the Yankees in promoting young players, many of the players appearing for Portland in this playoff series have not had a full year experience vs Trenton. Players such as Lars Anderson, Argenis Diaz, Josh Reddick and Jorge Jiminez were called up to Portland in July and only have played the handful of games between the teams late in the season.

    While the Thunder took the season series, Phil Coke thoroughly dominated the Portland team allowing a total of two runs in his three full starts against the Sea Dogs. During his fourth start against Portland on July 25 is when Coke was pulled after 1 inning due to the potential trade with Pittsburgh. Coke had three K’s against the Sea Dogs in that one inning.

    Meanwhile, Trenton’s offense has basically been the same unit the entire season and has usually fared well against Portland’s starters. They have beaten Kris Johnson twice, Richardson and Gassner once each this season. Two Sea Dogs promoted to the parent club this season, Michael Bowden and Justin Masterson, have also been beaten by Trenton.

    The big game is #2 when they go up against Clay Buchholz. His assignment to Portland was absolutely intended to have him pitch in this playoff series against the Thunder. The Red Sox understand the seriousness of this rivalry.

    The young Sea Dog lineup will not be able to produce many runs against the Thunder starting staff. The Thunder win in four games, losing Game 2 but beating up the Sea Dogs the other three.

  4. mbn Says:

    I think the Thunder will do as well as the offense dictates. If Jackson and Gonzalez, the big thumpers, do not deliver, then guys like Malec and PJ and others will need to be extra good to win. The Thunder pitching should be solid, unless Marquez implodes. But here is is chance for redemption in 2008, with 2 possible playoff starts coming up.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: