When I asked everyone to come up with their favorite Red Sox/Yankees memories, I’ll be honest: I expected almost all of them to be from 2004, 2007, or 2013. The seasons fans remember the best are the ones when the team wins it all, obviously. And that’s fine. There’s a reason those teams, players, and the rivalries they had with the Yankees were remembered. It was because they came out on top. Something the Red Sox had trouble doing for an entire lifetime of baseball.
In this sense, we’re spoiled. We have a lot of great memories over the past 14 years (plus, I’d argue there were some good moments in 2003!), and this isn’t something every Red Sox fan who has lived is able to say.
What memories did our fellow Sox fans come up with?
Easy for Me: Pedro - Travis Crews
What they said - It was September of 1999, and Travis was in Costa Rica. Even in Costa Rica, the itch was there. You gotta watch Pedro Martinez pitch. To his elation, they found the game at a bar. His party was loud, and the native inhabitants came over to see what was up. They started cheering for Pedro, along with the poster. Complete domination of the Yankees!
This is the part where I admit my greatest shame, and it’s a doozy. I never really got to watch Pedro pitch during his prime years in Boston. I started watching in 2003, and yes, he was dominant that year, but when people speak about his 1999 and 2000 seasons, I feel like I missed out. In my defense, in 2000, I was about to turn 8 years old when the season was nearing its end, and I was more interested in reading books than watching sportsball.
Just looking at Pedro’s stat line in retrospect is ridiculous. During the heights of the Steroid Era, he did something that would be pretty much impossible today. I’m going to post a graphic of his numbers (courtesy of Baseball Reference), just because I think it does a better job of telling the story than I ever could. I’ve highlighted the 1999 season in particular because that’s the season the OP pointed out.
Those numbers are bonkers.
In the game the original poster mentioned, Martinez held the Yankees to one hit, and struck out 17 batters over the course of 9 innings. To put it into perspective just how special that is: in 1999, the Yankees ranked 2nd in all of baseball in wRC+. Their lineup that fateful night included Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Chuck Knoblauch, Paul O’Neill, and Chili Davis (yes, that Chili Davis. Fun fact, he was the only “hit” that night, and it was a dinger). The only notable absence from the lineup that night was Jorge Posada (who was actually in the midst of what would end up being arguably his worst season).
Pedro made this incredible offense look like dirt. Similar to what Rick Porcello did just the other night, with the obvious differences in how they got to that end result.
Pedro Martinez was a special pitcher. He’s my favorite pitcher I’ve ever watched, even if I caught him at the very end of his peak.
What they said - Millions of moments in 2004 were magical. One of the lesser remembered ones? Dave Roberts looked silly, and fouled off a bunch of pitches. Teammates were getting antsy, and practically begging Roberts to get it in play, and not in foul territory. 2004 was special because while the curse was on the minds of the fans, the players were a bunch of kids out there just having fun with it. This year’s team feels similar.
The big thing I remember from the 2004 season, since it was one of my first was a fan (and how fortunate I am to have not had to wait for my first World Series title!) was the sheer personality on the roster. My original username, outofleftfield, came from my love for Manny Ramirez, a player who both played left field, and was incredibly wacky (or out of left field). Johnny Damon inspired hope. And of course, there was David Ortiz.
I could write an entire article on the actual character of these players, and how they all mattered in winning a World Series. I imagine you all could too. 2004 was an incredibly fun year, and like lone1c points out... there are some parallels to this year’s team.
On the one hand, you have J.D. Martinez, who might be the best pure hitter Boston has had since Manny Ramirez (and without the Manny being Manny hijinks). Then you have Chris Sale, who is probably the best Sox pitcher since Pedro. At first, you are playing underappreciated guys like Mitch Moreland and Steve Pearce, much like the 2004 team used Kevin Millar.
What stands out to me as different however, is the nature of the core. While the “having fun” attitude isn’t different, and you could very well call this 2018 roster of Red Sox a bunch of children for how much glee they play the game with, the players age better reflect this nature than the team of 2004. The average age on that 2004 team was 30.5 years old. This year’s roster averages 27.5, a full three years younger.
2004 was a special year, because we had special talents, with special personalities, and everything in the right place for a singular great season. 2018 may be a special year, and we may win it all. But even if we do not... the core is young enough that you could very well see a repeat of this season, or close to it, next year. And that year after that. And the year after that. It will take some work (J.D. Martinez is likely going to be a free agent after next season, Craig Kimbrel is going to free agency after this one, Chris Sale needs a new contract, and the trio of Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, and Andrew Benintendi is about to start getting really expensive, really quickly), but the pieces are there if we want a sustained run of this brand of fun.
Favorite Sox vs. Yankees Memory (2017) - Phantom255x
What they said - A little over a year ago, today, a double header between the Sox and Yankees was played. The Sox already lost the first game of the double header, and wanted to salvage game numero dos. Better yet, it was Boston Punching Bag David Price on the mound in the night-cap, so you know there was a sense of negativity going around. There’s a lot to unpack, and I don’t have enough words to recap the entire game. Price was brilliant, though, as he often is. A case of expecting the worst, and having great things happen anyways.
This is the part where I talk about how negativity is part of being a Red Sox fan. Honestly, it’s probably part of being a passionate sports fan in general, forget the Red Sox part. It’s the nature of fanhood.
Expect terrible things so you won’t be disappointed, because in baseball, even the best are going to fail over 60 percent of the time at the plate. On the mound, if you can’t take advantage of that 60 percent (or better!) failure rate, even if it’s just a single run scored, for some, that’s a sign that the end-times are coming.
Of the players on the Sox who are targeted with negative comments, it’s arguable that the player who gets the worst of it is David Price, a 217 million dollar pitcher with a 3.87 ERA since coming to the Red Sox prior to the 2016 season. Even on a night where he went 6 innings, and gave up only two runs to the Yankees (arguably, only because he was left in by a manager who tried to stretch him into the 7th), negativity surrounded him following his start, for some bizarre reason that was never explained (the long and the short of it is, he walked out of a press conference visibly annoyed with reporters).
Dating back to July 7th (his first start after the disaster outing against the Yankees, which started the most recent wave of negativity), he has a 2.84 ERA/3.41 FIP/3.64 xFIP, with 9.09 K/9, and 1.71 BB/9, in 31.2 innings (5 starts). Even with so much negativity surrounding him (and yes, I imagine getting asked nightly about your track record gets a little grating), Price has been consistently great. Even in pessimism, it’s important to remember that the other side of the coin, optimism, has something to say.
That’s it for this week, hope you enjoyed it!