The American League East rivalry between the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox has reached a fever pitch and has gotten real personal over the first month of the season. It all started at Camden Yards on the now infamous slide by Orioles third basemen Manny Machado that spiked Red Sox captain Dustin Pedroia. Whether you think it was accidental or not, it was clear that the battle lines were drawn, and Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes threw one up at Machado's head the very next day later. Pedrioa made it clear that it wasn't his doing, but the message was sent and Machado sent the Red Sox a message right back in Boston. Things got even more dicey there.
In the first of a four game series at Fenway Park, Machado blasted a solo home run to put the Orioles up 2-0 in the sixth inning and made some tremendous plays on defense en route to a 5-2 win. After the game, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said that Red Sox fans shouted racist things at him and threw peanuts at his direction. Red Sox fans responded by giving Jones a standing ovation in game 2 of the series, but sadly, that was all thrown to the way side when Sox pitcher Chris Sale threw a 97 MPH fastball behind Machado, sparking even more outrage. The Red Sox won 5-2, and won again the next night 4-2 in a game that saw Orioles starting pitcher Kevin Gausman get ejected for hitting Xander Bogaerts with a curveball. The Orioles split the finale of the 4-game series by winning 8-3 with some help from a Machado three run homer to give them the lead. Machado then proceeded to trot around the bases for almost thirty seconds before crossing home plate after his home run.
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh knows a thing or two about this rivalry between Baltimore and Boston. While the New England Patriots have taken the last three meetings between these two teams, Harbaugh's Ravens have been a thorn in the Patriots side ever since 2009. Unlike many NFL teams, the Ravens under Harbaugh have been one of the few to show no fear against Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, and the Patriots. The teams have faced each other in the playoffs four times with each team notching two wins a piece. Baltimore is really a Lee Evans drop in 2011 and maybe just one defensive stop in 2014 away from being 4-0 against New England in postseason play. We also can't forget Harbaugh bringing up the now-illegal formations Belichick did during that 2014 playoff game.
At the end of Saturday's rookie mini-camp practice, Harbaugh brought up the Orioles-Red Sox controversy, and defended Gausman's curveball that hit Bogaerts by saying the pitch "didn't break", and called the curveball a "love tap". Harbuagh proceeded to say:
"It's Baltimore-Boston, that's a pretty good rivalry."
The crazy thing about this Orioles-Red Sox fiasco is that it's only the first month or so of the season in a AL East race that is very tight between the Orioles, Red Sox, and the first place New York Yankees. These two teams won't meet again until the first week of June in Baltimore.
With the Orioles and Red Sox duking it out, and the Ravens working hard to try and compete with the Patriots in an effort to meet them one more time in the playoffs, this chapter of the rivalry between Baltimore and Boston in 2017 might only be just the beginning.