Home News Yankees vs. Dodgers feels ‘different’ with Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtani and other...

Yankees vs. Dodgers feels ‘different’ with Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtani and other superstars facing off



Dave Roberts did not downplay the spectacle that is Yankees-Dodgers.

Sitting down for his first press conference of this weekend’s star-powered series in the Bronx, the Dodgers manager surveyed a much-larger-than-usual media contingent inside the visitor’s dugout at Yankee Stadium.

“Man, it’s like the postseason,” Roberts said before Friday’s series opener. “Is this October or what?”

In reality, there are still four months until October, and more than half of an MLB regular season to play before then. But with the Dodgers in town for what many billed as a potential World Series preview, the three-game series carried far more luster than a typical weekend in early June.

The Dodgers boast three former MVPs in Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and, now, Shohei Ohtani, the Japanese sensation who joined Los Angeles in December on a record-setting 10-year, $700 million contract featuring heavily deferred money.

The Yankees employ two former MVPs in Aaron Judge — whose historic 62-homer season helped him win the AL honor over the then-Angels star Ohtani in 2022 — and Giancarlo Stanton.

There could have been even more star power, if not for the forearm inflammation that kept Juan Soto out of the Yankees’ lineup on Friday, or injuries to Gerrit Cole and Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw, who have won four Cy Young Awards between them.

“This is one of those series in the regular season that is going to have that extra juice,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said before Friday’s game.

“We get these games, series, every now and then during the regular season, whether it’s a great interleague series [like] Yankees-Dodgers, at different times a big series with Boston, or when we went to London or the Field of Dreams. There’s little moments, games, in a season that have a little extra to it. There’s a lot more eyeballs here.”

Adding intrigue to Friday’s series opener was that the Dodgers started Yoshinobu Yamamoto, whom they signed to a 12-year, $325 million deal out of Japan in the offseason. In terms of total value, that contract is the biggest ever given to a pitcher, barely eclipsing Cole’s nine-year, $324 million deal with the Yankees.

Yamamoto chose the Dodgers over the Yankees, whose offer topped out at $300 million.

The Yankees began the series with an MLB-best 45-19 record. The Dodgers’ 39-25 mark was the second best in the National League. Both were among the top three MLB teams in runs scored and in the top four in ERA.

“They have three of the top hitters in the show, and their lineup is very deep,” Yankees pitcher Nestor Cortes, who is scheduled to start Saturday, told the Daily News of the Dodgers.

“Everybody knows that the Dodgers are a really good baseball team. The Yankees are a really good baseball team. There’s going to be a lot of commotion around this series. It’s exciting.”

It’s a rivalry that dates back more than a century, with the Dodgers playing in Brooklyn until 1957 and regularly meeting the Yankees in the World Series before and after then. The Yankees won eight of those 11 World Series matchups with the Dodgers, whom they last faced in the Fall Classic in 1981.

With teams perhaps destined to see each other again this October, Roberts acknowledged this weekend’s series felt special.

“It has to, and it should feel different when you come into this ballpark and you play [against] this franchise,” Roberts said. “When you’re playing for the Dodgers and you’re playing for the Yankees, it better feel different. If not, you better do something different for a profession.”

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