Anthony Volpe #11 of the New York Yankees looks on...

Anthony Volpe #11 of the New York Yankees looks on before a game against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium on Friday, June 9, 2023 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Credit: Jim McIsaac

It’s no secret that Anthony Volpe grew up in New Jersey dreaming of playing for the Yankees.

On Friday night he was reminded of whom he grew up dreaming of playing against.

“When I would hit with my dad in the cage and stuff, we would always pretend it was Yankees versus Red Sox,” Volpe told Newsday. “We would have different scenarios like that. As a Yankee fan, and as a Yankee now, a player, it’s what you want be a part of.”

Volpe finally had that chance with this season’s first meeting between the long-time foes. In a year of so many big-league firsts for him, being able to partake in the rivalry that has defined the history of both franchises was “100%” something he has been looking forward to as the schedule and opponents have sped past the rookie shortstop like a travel montage in an old movie.

Not everyone is feeling the juice about the series, though. Pitcher Nestor Cortes has downplayed the animosity and intensity of games between the clubs, particularly compared to other AL East competition.

“It doesn’t feel like what we have here with Tampa now, or with Toronto now,” he said. “You could argue that [the Red Sox] haven’t been who they really are the last couple of years.”

It is true that there was a definite lack of sizzle at the Stadium on Friday. A rivalry that routinely produced so many humdingers felt a little . . .  ho-hum. Maybe it had to do with the lack of the game’s biggest star, Aaron Judge, sidelined with a toe injury. Or that this was a third-place team hosting a last-place team, both coming into the action more than a week’s worth of games out of first.

But it still held some of its old charm for Yankees manager Aaron Boone.

“Oh, man, I think any time the Red Sox and Yankees get together, whether it’s here or whether it’s at Fenway, there is something special about that,” he said. “I’ve gotten to experience it quite a bit now as a player and as a manager. You feel fortunate to be a part of such an historic sports rivalry.”

Boone acknowledged Cortes’ take and politely disagreed.

“The AL East is always good, but it’s really good now,” he said. “We’re playing in the SEC right now. We’ve developed really strong rivalries with every team, but the Red Sox are right in that mix . . . . For anyone who has been here for an extended period, including Nestor, you go play meaningful games in Fenway Park, you go play meaningful games against them here, it’s a heavyweight match. That’s one of the things you love about it.”

Volpe got his first taste of that as a player on Friday, but he’d been a peripheral part of such action in the past. He said he was able to attend a few of the postseason games between the teams in 2018. He recalled being at the 16-1 loss to Boston in Game 3 of the ALDS at Yankee Stadium

"That is not a good [memory],” he said, laughing. “I guess a lot of it was just how I was brought up, going to and watching games, the different types of things my family experienced, and the strong dislike of the Red Sox.”

That lopsided loss aside, Volpe said his overriding sense of the Yankees-Red Sox games was their MMA-level intensity.

“They were always really competitive good games,” he said. “Everyone always said the Red Sox games were like an hour longer than normal games just because of how important every pitch was. Hearing stuff like that, I’m excited to experience it.”

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