Red Sox

Red Sox-Yankees at London Stadium will feature a unique field setup

Red Sox-Yankees at London Stadium will feature a unique field setup

We've seen (American) football games on baseball fields. But how can you transform a massive soccer stadium into a venue for an MLB game?

We're finding out, as the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees will face off at London Stadium this weekend in MLB's first-ever games in Europe.

That means stadium crews have had to lay down dirt and artificial turf to change the home of West Ham United into a baseball field. And apparently it's coming together quite nicely.

Here's a look at a few photos from inside the stadium:

MLB senior field coordinator and consultant Murray Cook, who led the London Stadium project, likened the transformed field to a "ballpark-in-a-box" that essentially plops an entire ballpark in the middle of an oval pitch.

"Under the armor deck is the track-and-field venue and this multimillion-dollar soccer pitch; we can't anchor or dig any holes," Cook told ESPN.com's Marly Rivera. "So everything has to be balanced or weighted to support all the fencing structure and foul poles."

The on-field dimensions are pretty standard (if slightly small): 385 feet to center field and 330 feet down each line. But the one unique aspect will be the massive amount of foul territory on either side that Cook compared to the Oakland Coliseum. There's also a 16-foot wall in center field that Cook calls a "mini Green Monster." (The Red Sox are the home team, after all.)

There's still work to be done ahead of the first game Friday, but this "ballpark-in-a-box" seems almost ready to host the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry on foreign soil.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Jason Varitek, Alex Rodriguez were 'teammates' after Sox-Yankees brawl, and things got awkward

Jason Varitek, Alex Rodriguez were 'teammates' after Sox-Yankees brawl, and things got awkward

Jason Varitek and Alex Rodriguez were never destined to be close friends.

That much was confirmed almost 15 years ago, when on July 24, 2004, Varitek and A-Rod sparked one of the wildest moments of the Boston Red Sox-New York Yankees rivalry.

You remember how it went down: Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo drilled Rodriguez with a fastball, Rodriguez took exception and Varitek confronted Rodriguez, shoving his glove in the Yankees slugger's face to set off a wild fracas.

 

The Athletic's Jen McCaffrey published an entertaining oral history of that famous brawl Friday that includes some terrific quotes, including what Varitek allegedly said to A-Rod that got him so heated.

"Him and ‘Tek are going face to face," Sox pitcher Curt Schilling recalled. "He says, 'Throw that s--- over the plate.' And ‘Tek says, 'Hey dude, we don’t hit .260 hitters.' And then that’s when you see Alex look at him and go, 'F--- you. F--- you.' "

But little did either player know that they actually would be teammates two years later on Team USA in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

Here's Arroyo on asking Varitek if things got awkward between the two -- and the Sox catcher sharing a hilarious story.

When he got back I said, “Jason, how was it being on the same fricking team with Alex?” And he said, “Man, there was one game we were about to play and both of us ended up in the training room and no one else around, both taping up our wrists right next to each other.

And neither one of us spoke a word. We never spoke a word about it. We never acknowledged it. We never acted like we didn’t like each other, but we weren’t going to act friendly, either.” So he said it was the most awkward dead silence ever, taping up those wrists.

What we'd give to be a fly on that wall.

Both Varitek and A-Rod have come a long way since then -- the former is a special assistant in the Red Sox baseball operations department, while the latter has enjoyed a career renaissance as an MLB broadcaster -- but we'd guess they still don't send each other holiday cards.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Mookie Betts is smoking hot and could reach a milestone only two others have seen in 70 years

Mookie Betts is smoking hot and could reach a milestone only two others have seen in 70 years

BOSTON -- We all agree that Mookie Betts is having a so-so year. He didn't deserve to make the All-Star Game, he hasn't carried the Red Sox like he did a year ago, and his production is down across the board.

And yet, if he continues on his current pace, he will score more runs this season than all but five players in the last 70 years.

If that's a down year, then sign the Red Sox the bleep up.

With so much attention on Rafael Devers maturing into a destroyer of men, we've managed to overlook one of the most significant developments of the last month -- Mookie is very quietly getting hot again.

He blasted his first homer of the month as part of a torrid July that has seen him hit .431 with 18 runs in 11 games. Those runs are important, because they're the one part of Betts' game that has not suffered a whit.

He leads the majors with 86 runs in 95 games, and at his current pace would finish with 145. With a little bit of luck, he could join Jeff Bagwell with the 2000 Astros and Ted Williams with the 1949 Red Sox as the only two to reach 150.

The way Devers is going out of the No. 2 hole, there's an outside shot the leadoff man will become only the 20th player ever to reach that 150 mark. As it is, he just joined Teddy Ballgame in the franchise record books for most consecutive games with a run at 13.

"I mean, yeah. I think when anybody scores, good things happen," Betts said. "But I think you need somebody to kind of get on base in front of Devers and (Xander Bogaerts), I think it's a good chance I'm going to score."

Betts is now hitting .284 with 14 homers and 44 RBIs. That's a far cry from last year's batting title, but as manager Alex Cora noted, Betts has taken his walks all year, which suggests a solid approach. His on-base percentage stands at .399, and nowadays every baserunner in front of the scorching Devers represents an RBI opportunity.

"Aw, man. It's been a lot of fun," Betts said. "I have one job and it's just to get on base and let him kind of take care of the rest. So it makes my job a little easier. Obviously I may get a couple more pitches to hit because nobody wants to face him and that's part of the game."

Since moving to the No. 2 hole on June 25 and pairing with Betts atop the order, Devers has been playing on another level. The 22-year-old is hitting .397 with seven homers and 25 RBIs in 17 games, his OPS pushing 1.300.

Betts has been of the primary beneficiaries.

"It's been a long season, but things are kind of coming around," Betts said. "It seems I've learned what not to do."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.