This past weekend the Red Sox and Yankees met for their final series at Fenway this season. The Sox came into the series (and left) in first place, while the Yankees watched their playoff chances disappear with Boston’s four game sweep. The series gave me 2004 flashbacks, despite it not being quite as important as the ALCS. There were no bench clearing brawls or screaming exchanges, but there were comebacks and walk offs. With playoffs on the line going into the series, this weekend reminded me of past years of the famous Sox Yankees rivalry, one that has seemingly been dormant for some time now. Following Sunday’s victory and completion of the sweep, I went back and looked on my favorite Sox Yankees moments over the years.
It would be easy for me to pick all the good Boston moments in this rivalry, but in order to be fair I’ll throw in some of the worst moments for me as well. In August of 2008, our favorite bullpen guy Junichi Tazawa made his MLB debut in the 14th inning of a Sox Yankees game. Tazawa lasted until the 15th inning, when he gave up a two run walk off homer to who other than, Alex Rodriguez, putting an end to a five-hour game.
I briefly mentioned the 2004 ALCS, but before we get into that we have to talk about the 2003 ALCS. Everyone always talks about hockey brawls, and often we forget about baseball brawls. One that can’t go without mention involved a 72 year-old man and Pedro Martinez. The altercation between the two started when Martinez hit Yankees hitter Karim Garcia, and later Roger Clemens returned the snub with a high pitch to Manny Ramirez. Benches cleared and Pedro knocked 72 year-old Yankees bench coach, Don Zimmer to the ground. This may not have been one of the best rivalry moments, but certainly one of the most bizarre.
While we’re on brawls, I have to bring up one of my favorites of all time. Regardless of whether or not you’re a Sox or Yankees fan, the iconic picture of Boston’s Jason Varitek shoving his glove in Alex Rodriguez’s face will go down in history. After Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo hit Rodriguez with a pitch, A-Rod started to chirp both Arroyo and Varitek, which led to the Sox catcher defending his pitcher. Words escalated to the glove in the face, which cleared both benches, and multiple ejections.
And last but not least, who could forget the four days in October? This championship series was the epitome of the Sox Yanks rivalry in my lifetime. Boston was down 3-0 in the 2004 ALCS, and down a run in Game 4. Kevin Millar was replaced on base by pinch runner Dave Roberts. Yankees closer Mariano Rivera expected Roberts to attempt a steal, which made tensions rise as he continued to check Roberts at first. Rivera’s pitch to Bill Mueller seemed to take hours to deliver, as he kept looking over and throwing to first. When the pitch was finally delivered, Roberts was already long gone on his way to second, which he successfully stole. Roberts went on to score the tying run, and the rest was history for the Yankees.
Though the Red Sox Yankees rivalry has undoubtedly lost its flame over the last few years, the future looks promising for both teams as new generation of players will hopefully put the spark into the feud once again. Until then, I’ll enjoy the satisfaction of watching Hanley Ramirez hit walk offs against New York, and Boston overcoming 4-0 deficits in heated September baseball.