Sox-Yanks rivalry steeped in lore
Kit Loughran | Thursday, January 30, 2014
This is the final in a 10-part series discussing the best rivalry in sports. In this installment, Kit Loughran argues for the Red Sox and the Yankees. Join the discussion on Twitter by using the #BestRivalry.
Red Sox vs. Yankees. Hands down the best rivalry in sports. Do I even need to say more?
There really is no explanation necessary to defend this as the greatest sports rivalry. Its span stretches from 1901 to the present. And, since the day the Red Sox traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees back in 1918, there was no going back. The rivalry’s fate was sealed.
The Curse of the Bambino adds an element to the rivalry with which no one else in sports can compete. The Red Sox won four World Series, and they sold Ruth to the Yankees for $125,000 and a $300,000 loan. Probably the worst decision anyone could make. That sin haunted the Red Sox for almost a century, and it still fuels the rivalry today.
The best thing about this rivalry: it’s always relevant. Even with Boston’s last place finish under Bobby Valentine in 2012, the rivalry was still there. Everyone knows what is at stake when Boston and New York meet.
In the 351 games between the Yankees and Red Sox while one or both teams were in contention since 1992, it’s the Yanks that come out on top leading 188 to 132 games. However, Yankee fans, don’t get too ahead of yourselves. It’s now the reigning World Series-champion Red Sox that are sporting the stronger roster. The question of how long the Red Sox will be better than the Yankees really has no answer. But, I say, who cares? Let it brew all the more tension between the teams.
Speaking of tension, 10 years ago there was the Don Zimmer-Pedro Martinez fiasco. The 2003 ALCS was tied 1-1, tensions were high, and pitchers Martinez and Roger Clemens weren’t helping. The Yankee bench cleared once when Martinez nicked right fielder Karim Garcia’s helmet. Then it was Clemens that got Sox slugger Manny Ramirez in the shoulder with a fastball high and inside. That did it. Next thing you know benches were cleared, and 72-year old Yankee coach Don Zimmer went straight for Pedro Martinez. Martinez threw Zimmer down — I mean, he is 40 years his junior — and then it was pure chaos. If that’s not spurred by pure rivalry, then I don’t know what is.
With every great rivalry comes the ultimate showdown. For the Yanks and Sox, it’s most definitely the 2004 ALCS. The Red Sox lost the first three games of the series, and then miraculously went on to win the next four to win the American League bid to the World Series. Nothing could scream “rivalry” more than the Red Sox beating the Yankees in Game 7 at Yankee Stadium. New England was in uproar. Headlines reading “Dead Sox” suddenly changed to “Hell Freezes Over” and “Choke’s on Us.”
The Yankees suffered the biggest collapse in postseason baseball history, and the Red Sox had the greatest comeback in postseason baseball history. Coincidence that these two records were set by the biggest rivals in baseball history — and against each other, nonetheless? I think not.
The Red Sox are taking the lead now, the Yankees are eagerly pursuing them, and former Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury just switched uniforms. The race for the “Evil Empire” might be undecided, but one thing is for certain. Red Sox vs. Yankees is the greatest sports rivalry.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.