NEW YORK -- After 2,144 baseball games between the Yankees and Red Sox over their storied history, the rivalry took a different stage Monday night: bowling lanes.A night before the two teams are set to begin a highly anticipated three-game series at Yankee Stadium, one that could flip the two
NEW YORK -- After 2,144 baseball games between the Yankees and Red Sox over their storied history, the rivalry took a different stage Monday night: bowling lanes.
A night before the two teams are set to begin a highly anticipated three-game series at Yankee Stadium, one that could flip the two top teams in the American League East, the franchises squared off in a friendly bowling competition at trendy Bowlmor Times Square in Manhattan.
The occasion: to raise money for the PitCCh In Foundation, CC and Amber Sabathia's organization, which aims to enrich the lives of inner-city youth. The Sabathias founded the foundation in 2008, and it's now involved in promoting youth athletic activities in the tri-state area and Sabathia's native Northern California.
"It's a lot of fun to get people to come out and be supportive of our foundation," Carsten Sabathia said. "Our foundation has grown so much, ever since we came to New York. Hopefully it continues to grow and we can reach more kids."
The Yankees and Red Sox may very well end up battling all summer, with New York riding the wave of its new young superstar Aaron Judge and the Red Sox lately playing closer to the potential of their veteran-heavy club. The Yankees lead the AL East by two games over the Sox entering Tuesday's opener, in which Masahiro Tanaka will oppose Thomas Pomeranz.
But the atmosphere was jovial Monday night, with nothing but good vibes -- and a healthy fear of Mookie Betts' bowling prowess -- dominating conversation prior to the event. Sabathia and former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz headlined the night, both coaching sponsored teams that competed against each other. Ortiz's team squeaked out a narrow victory.
Also participating were Dellin Betances, Aaron Hicks, Brett Gardner, Matthew Holliday, Betts, David Price and others, including New York Giants quarterback Geno Smith, Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker, Super Bowl champion Tiki Barber and actor Isiah Whitlock.
Betts is best known for being the 2016 American League MVP runner-up, but he's also widely considered the best bowler in baseball. Betts participated in the World Series of Bowling last year and bowled a 300 on a separate occasion.
"I'm going to steer clear of his lane," Yankees reliever Tyler Clippard said. "I have no shot if I go against him."
"There is a bunch of hype going around," Betts said. "I'm just going to have fun."
That wasn't a problem once Ortiz showed up, as the retired slugger shared hugs and handshakes with everyone he came into contact with. Ortiz and Sabathia have competed against each other since 2001, Sabathia's rookie year in Cleveland. Ortiz was still with the Minnesota Twins, two years removed from signing with Boston. The two are common supporters of each other. Sabathia attended one of Ortiz's events in the Dominican Republic this past offseason. Sabathia predicted he'd out-bowl Ortiz, though the Red Sox still entered the night heavy favorites because of Betts' expertise.
"He's still like a mentor," Betts said of Ortiz. "I haven't talked to him about bowling. Just about hitting."
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.