Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Yankees vs. Red Sox: Chapter 104


Redskins vs. Cowboys. Michigan vs. Ohio State. Lakers vs. Celtics. There is a reason we watch the games we watch. There is a reason we love the teams we love. There is only one reason you can see a grown man openly weep over an empty pint of beer in front of both friends and strangers. The reason is sports. There is nothing better than competition and there's only one thing better than winning: vanquishing your one main enemy and destroying the hopes of those you are sworn to hate. For those of us who are sports fans, there is nothing better in this world than beating your rival. And tonight the best rivalry in the history of sports begins a new chapter in the city of Boston. Tonight, the New York Yankees take on the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.

It was back in 1919 when the Red Sox traded Babe Ruth to the Yanks when this bitter rivalry began to flourish. Boston had won the World Series the year prior, but after the trade would not win another championship until 2004. Thus began the "Curse of the Bambino," Boston's consistent inability to win it all. Throughout the rest of the 20th century after 1918 and into the very begging of the 21st, Red Sox fans would suffer through many excruciatingly painful loses. In 1949, the Sox led the Yanks by one game in the World Series but New York would come back to win the championship. In 1978, Boston led the Yankees by 14 ½ games that season with only 3 months to play, but the Red Sox began to self-destruct and the Yankees would sweep a 4-game series at Fenway Park (later to be known as the "Boston Massacre". Both teams would end up with identical records and the Yankees would pull of the win in a come-from-behind extra playoff game to take the AL pennant.

In 2003, this ancient rivalry would reach its peak. Both teams would face each other in the American League Conference Series for the second time in a best of 7 match-up that would see the winner advance to the World Series. Both teams would tie the series at 3 games apiece forcing a decisive game 7. Boston was leading New York 5-2 in the 8th inning. It appeared as if "The Curse" would be over. The Red Sox were only 6 outs away from winning. In a small apartment in Brooklyn, wearing my Yankees cap and pajamas, I took a shot of bourbon to ease the pain at what I felt was coming. I did not want to face the backlash of taunts from all my family and friends in Boston. I had laid it on pretty thick for many years and did not like the role-reversal I saw in the making. But the Yanks would get 3 straight hits that would cut the deficit to 5-3 with runners on 2nd and 3rd base. Boston's manager Grady Little decided to leave their pitcher Pedro Martinez in the game and the Yankees would soon tie it with a hit by Jorge Posada. Was this really happening?

It was getting late on the East Coast when Yankee third baseman Aaron Boone stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the 11th. The sports casters were rambling off some stats. I wasn't expecting much because Boone had only had 2 hits the entire series. Pitch number 1: a home run shot into left field! The Yankees win! The Yankees win! That, I believe, was the best game I ever saw in my life. My drink spilt as I stomped up and down screaming at the top of my lungs. The neighbors did not care for this too much, but I didn't care too much for the neighbors. To me, at this moment, if you weren't celebrating, you weren't a New Yorker.

But fear not, this isn't a one-sided rivalry. While the Yankees spent decades pissing on hopes of the Red Sox, all that would change one year later. The Red Sox would come back with the ultimate insult. The two teams would play each other in the ALCS for the second year in a row. New York would win the first 3 games. All that had to be done was win 1 out of the next 4 games to earn a repeat ticket to the World Championship. I was in Boston with my family for the first 3 games. The town was crying. The papers were bitching. My family had tipped their Boston caps in defeat toward me. But for some reason I knew it wasn't over. Some instinct within was terrified, but with the current position, I couldn't imagine what it was. Then it happened. For the first time in American baseball history a team came back from an 0-3, best of 7 series deficit and Boston advanced to the World Series. After that the Red Sox would sweep the St. Louis Cardinals and win their first world Championship in 86 years. It was a shameful night in the city of New York. Boston fans had taken over our bars and our streets. The "Curse of the Bambino" was over. They had won. They had defeated and humiliated us and we had let it happen. It one of the lowest points I had experienced in my young life.

Some would say, "Oh, that's so sad. It's just sports." I think it is sad that some would say that. It is not just sports. It is something many of us live and breathe by. We have chosen our sides for whatever reasons they may be. We grew up with that team or we lived in that city - it does not matter. We are sports fans and we have chosen our battlefields. The war continues. Tonight, the 104th chapter of the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry begins. May this weekend's combat be great, may it be fierce, may it be what I live for: a true rivalry.

New York Yankees at Boston Red Sox: Friday at 7:05pm (ESPN), Saturday at 3:55pm (Fox), Sunday at 8:05pm (ESPN)

About the Writer

Michael R. Gauthier is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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