Jason Varitek shoving his dirt covered glove into Alex Rodriguez’s face. Pedro Martinez and Don Zimmer nose to nose at Fenway Park. Aaron Boone becoming Aaron ‘Bleeping’ Boone. Dave Roberts stealing second base, sparking one of the greatest comebacks in baseball history for the Red Sox. Curt Schilling, with possibly the greatest baseball story ever told, and his bloodied sock.
These are the sights, the sounds, the nostalgia that will forever be remembered when you think of the 2003 and 2004 rivalry of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. Aside from those two years and throughout all of sports history, there may not be a better rivalry than these two iconic cities, and these two revered teams. This year, after many without, we may see the rivalry in all of its’ glory.
October 16th, 2003. Bottom of the 11th, Game 7, American League Championship Series. In The House That Babe Built, Aaron Boone hit one of the most famous home runs in Yankees postseason history, and arguably baseball postseason history, off Tim Wakefield, as he sends the Yankees on to the World Series, sending the Red Sox home. Earlier that season, the two clubs faced each other in 19 regular season games and, of course, the 7 additional in the ALCS.
In 2004, what did we see? 19 regular season face-offs between the two and 7 more in the ALCS. However, this time around, Boston refused to relive history. Down 0-3, the Red Sox rallied back winning four straight, and went on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series.
15 years after his historic home run, Aaron Boone now finds himself in the Yankees dugout again; this time as the manager.
While the teams have had their differences in the past, in 2017 they shared a similar fate. Both failed to stop the Houston Astros on their way to a World Series pennant. The consequences of the defeats were quite severe, as both teams decided to part ways with their managers. The Boston Red Sox dismissed John Farrell, who led the team to a 2013 World Series championship. While the New York Yankees decided to not renew the contract of Joe Girardi, who managed the team to their most recent World Series championship in 2009.
As well as personnel changes, the clubs have added depth to their lineup in a cold-war like arms race to the top. The Yankees added Giancarlo Stanton, who belted 59 home runs in 159 games last year with the Marlins. The Red Sox followed suit adding J.D. Martinez, who homered 45 times in 119 games.
There is something else that must be added to this narrative, considering the two teams and history there. That is the fact that the last time we saw the teams start the season with new managers together, was more than a quarter of a century ago. It is almost as rare to see a new manager go on to win the World Series in their first year. Bob Brenly was the last person to do it, which happened in 2001 as he replaced Buck Showalter within the Arizona Diamondbacks organization. But, who was the team that Brenly went on to beat? Well, that would be none other than the New York Yankees. Before that, we had not seen a rookie manager win a Pennant in over 50 years.
Now Boone attempts to do it in New York, the place he once called home as a player. Cora tries to do it in Boston, where he joins the club after being a bench coach last season for none other than the World Series champion Houston Astros.
While the rivalry may never again be as intense as it was in the early 2000’s, I will let former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, close us out. “You can talk about the Dodgers and Giants, the Cardinals and Cubs, the Packers and the Bears, Ohio State and Michigan, but there is nothing like the Red Sox and the Yankees.”
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