It is still rivalry week at SB Nation, and as you can imagine I took advantage of this fact to come up with a relatively easy (to come up with, anyway) roundtable question for the staff. I asked, simply, “What is your most memorable Red Sox-Yankees moment?” The only caveat I threw in there was that they could not select anything from the 2004 ALCS, because come on. That’s just too obvious.
For me, the most memorable experience I had regarding a Red Sox-Yankees game was when I sat on the front row of the Green Monster at Fenway Park. It was the July 27th, 2019 game. Eduardo Rodriguez started against C.C. Sabathia. Other than sitting on the Monster (which is a top moment to begin with), it would also end up being the last start Sabathia would make against the Red Sox in his career, having retired after last season.
The Red Sox clubbed Sabathia, and that’s putting it lightly. In just over four innings, the Red Sox managed 9 hits, and the Yankees lefty struck out just 3 of the 21 batters he faced. J.D. Martinez (my favorite player presently on the team) launched a ball into orbit over our seats. I don’t think that ball will ever be coming back down.
To this point in my life, it’s the only time I’ve seen Red Sox-Yankees live. And being that I no longer live in the area, it’s highly unlikely I’ll be seeing too many of those games in the near future. The energy at the ballpark was something else. I’ve seen the Red Sox play in a couple different parks away from home. I’ve seen them at home against a few different teams. But no feeling will ever top the excitement of Red Sox-Yankees, while sitting just over 37 feet in the air.
So, this moment occurred before I had gotten sucked into baseball but it’s something I’ll never forget. My mom and I had taken a respite from Los Alamos, New Mexico to go and live with my dad who had taken a temporary job in Amarillo, Texas. One of the memories I have from that summer was popping into the den to watch a Red Sox-Yankees game with my dad and asking him some questions. He started to tell me about the Curse of the Bambino and why these two teams hated each other when right on cue A-Rod and Jason Varitek are throwing blows. It was one of those awesome childhood moments where you see something and you’re like “WHOA! This is so cool!” It must’ve been really cool for my dad to be instantly validated in that way, too. I wouldn’t get sucked into the Red Sox for another three years when I found myself in Vermont but it was moments like that, along with the 2004 ALCS, that built the foundation of my fandom.
One memory I have in the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is a relatively recent one. It was a Sunday Night Baseball game in the Bronx and the game was tied going into the top of the ninth inning. The Yankees closer, Aroldis Chapman was on the mound and in steps the rookie, Rafael Devers, in only his 15th game in the majors . Devers then goes oppo taco on a 102.8 MPH fastball to bring the Red Sox ahead by a run. It was the first home run that Chapman had given up that year and the first to a left-handed batter since 2011. The legend of Rafael Devers was born that night in August.
The traditional choices for this topic will probably be stuff around the ‘03 and ‘04 years, so I’m going to go in a different direction. In 2013, Alex Rodriguez was under a ton of heat following his connection to the Biogenesis baseball scandal and his potential use of PED’s. In his first game at Fenway that year, he stepped up to the plate against Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster. Dempster threw behind him, threw two more pitches inside, then finally plunked A-Rod to the chants of “You’re a cheater!”. Fast forward a few innings (somehow Dempster wasn’t ejected), and Rodriguez followed up his HBP with a 440+ foot blast to centerfield. While I grew up hating A-Rod, dare I say that Dempster turned him into a sympathetic figure for the duration of that game. Perhaps the weirdness of wanting to root for A-Rod (???) is why this game is so memorable for me.
It’s hard to say that the fourth game of a season is memorable - especially when that season results in a last place finish. But the 19 inning contest between the Red Sox and Yankees on April 10, 2015 will always be that for me. First, it was 19 innings! Clocking in at 7 hours and ending at about 2:00 AM this was an East Coast game followed by a West Coast game. And the score was a tidy 6-5 win for Boston. If this game had been played in Fenway I would have walked over to the ballpark and tried to get some tickets from desperate...uh...street merchants.
Like the Red Sox 18-inning World Series games against the Dodgers, Nathan Eovaldi pitched. Only he was the starter. For the Yankees. Andrew Miller was also a Yankee. But Junichi Tazawa was still on the Red Sox. Hanley Ramirez hit cleanup, right in front of Pablo Sandoval.
It wasn’t the most interesting game in the world, but it was early in the season, it was Red Sox and Yankees, and it will probably remain the most memorable game of 2015 for me in years to come. And it’s another reason starting extra innings with a runner on second base is anathema to baseball.
Matt wouldn’t let us pick something from the 2004 ALCS, but he didn’t say anything about the 2004 regular season. Bill Mueller’s walkoff home run off of Mariano Rivera on July 24, the same day Jason Varitek punched Alex Rodrigez in the face, stands out to me the most. Not only did it cap off a victory against the Yankees, it showed that Rivera wasn’t infallible and that the Red Sox could rally against their hated rivals. In many ways, the 2004 season seemed scripted, and this was a pretty spectacular piece of foreshadowing by whoever authored the story. It still took a series win in the ALCS to prove that the 2004 Red Sox team was different, but Mueller’s home run was the first time I remember thinking something special was afoot.
If we can’t pick the 2004 ALCS, I’m going way back to the 2003 ALCS, when Pedro Martinez grabbed a charging Don Zimmer by the head and tossed him to the field during a melee. Yeah the Sox lost the series, but watching Pedro throw Zimmer — a former Sox manager — by his cueball head signaled that this Sox team wasn’t gonna get stomped on by the Bombers ad infinitum and just take it. That the whole thing started on a not-all-that-dangerous pitch from a deranged Roger Clemens to a fired-up Manny Ramirez just puts the bow on the whole affair. The symbolism in the moment was palpable and even if it took a year to pay it all off, it was glorious.
My real answer here is probably the Tek-ARod fight, which made me late to a friend’s birthday party. Worth it. I also thought very hard about the Zimmer fight — Bryan picking that made it easier to pass on — as well as that time in 2007 when the Red Sox hit four straight home runs against the Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball. Instead, I’m going with another late-aughts Sunday Night Baseball moment, this one in 2009. It was early in that season and ultimately this moment didn’t have a material effect on the game. The score was 2-1 at the time and the Red Sox won 4-1. But the third run was scored by Jacoby Ellsbury stealing home. Ellsbury is the most exciting Red Sox player I’ve ever seen, and that was his most exciting moment. The electricity of Fenway in that moment will always be stuck in my head, as will the absurd non-reaction from J.D. Drew, which remains one of the funniest baseball moments of my life. Plus, my boss at Market Basket at the time was at that game, so I got to hear all about it like every day for a month.
After the 2004 ALCS the next memory that came to mind was when Manny, JD Drew, Mike Lowell and Varitek went back to back to back to back off of Chase Wright in 2007. I still remember all four who hit the dingers with out having to look it up, because this is one of those highlights when I’m bored in the winter I rewatch on YouTube a lot because of how fun it was. Seeing Manny lose it in the dugout when Varitek hit the fourth in a row was awesome, and it made Chase Wright only the second player to ever give up 4 consecutive homers. The Sox ended up winning 7-6 after Lowell hit a second homer later in the game, which was wildly entertaining but that little bit of history is really cool to remember and even sweeter coming against the Yankees.
Since I’m not allowed to talk about 2004 and I already wrote about my Red Sox vs Yankees memories from 2002 and 2003 I will discuss a more recent memory. It’s the 2018 ALDS, the Red Sox had just dropped Game Two to the Yankees. Aaron Judge had gotten the scoring started in their 6-2 win with a home run off of David Price in the first inning. It was his second game in a row hitting a dinger at Fenway and he was really feeling himself. While exiting Fenway Park Aaron Judge had the bright idea to play “New York, New York” on his speaker while strutting past the Red Sox locker room. Big mistake. This wasn’t your grandparents or your parents Red Sox teams whose job was to roll over and die for the Yankees. No, this was 108 win juggernaut who just ran rough shod through the AL East and was tied 1-1 with the Yankees going into Game Three at Yankee stadium. The Red Sox predictably took this personally and went out two days later in Game Three and stomped the lifeless Yankees 16-1 in their own house. They would finish the job the next day with a 4-3 win and celebrate by playing “New York, New York” on their way out. I guess the Yankees should’ve kept the house that Ruth built because this new place is actually quite inviting.