The greatest rivalry in pro sports takes center stage this weekend when the New York Yankees face the Boston Red Sox in a best-of-five American League Divisional Series. The 2018 ALDS will be the first time the Yankees and Red Sox battled in the postseason since 2004, and comes at a time when both teams are clearly two of the best in the league.
With both teams in the AL East, the Yankees (100-62) and Red Sox (108-54) were not just two of the best teams in the American League this season, but also in all of Major League Baseball. (Only the Houston Astros, in the AL West, had a comparable record at 103-59). The Yankees finished in second place in the AL East and settled on a Wild Card berth. They defeated the Oakland A’s in the Wild Card game this week to take their rightful spot against the Red Sox, where a century-old bitter rivalry was quickly reignited.
The last time these two teams squared off in the baseball postseason was in the 2004 ALCS, where the Yanks notoriously blew a 3-0 series lead, allowing the Red Sox to win four games in a row to take the pennant. The team would ride the momentum into the World Series, where they swept the St. Louis Cardinals to become champions, and perhaps more important erase the legendary Curse of the Bambino.
Boone’s Big Bang
The 2004 ALCS was a rematch of 2003, when the two rivals squared off and saw the Yankees prevail, thanks to the heroics of manager Aaron Boone, who at the time was playing third base for the team. In Game 7, Boone hit a thrilling walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning to clinch the ALCS. The game-winning home run earned Boone the moniker “Aaron F*ucking Boone” in New England.
Bambino Curse, Revisited?
The intense rivalry between New York and Boston dates back nearly a century ago when Red Sox owner Harry Frazee ditched Babe Ruth to finance a theater production titled “No, No, Nanette.” The Red Sox won the World Series in 1918 thanks to major contributions from Ruth. But on Dec. 26, 1919, Frazee sold Ruth’s contract to the Yankees and the rest is history.
Ruth went on to win seven championships with the Yankees and cement the team as the best franchise in baseball. Thus, the Curse of the Bambino was born.
The Red Sox languished for 86 years while dreading the Curse of the Bambino. Players visiting Yankee Stadium would hear the taunting chants of “Nine-teen Eight-teen!Nine-teen Eight-teen!”
Bucky F-ing Dent
The rivalry heated up again in the 1970s. In the summer of 1978, the Red Sox blew a 10-game lead and the Yanks went on a winning streak to catch the Sox and force an extra-game to determine the pennant winner. Yankees shortstop Bucky Dent, not known for being a power hitter, slugged a 3-run home run over the Green Monster to lead the Yankees to victory and an AL East crown. The shot heard around New England garnered Dent the pejorative, “Bucky F*ucking Dent.”
Ending the Curse
The hex was finally broken in 2004. The Red Sox rallied from a 3-0 deficit to snatch the ALCS away from the Yankees, then went on to obliterate the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series. The curse was crushed. The Red Sox added additional World Series titles in 2007 and 2013.
Pedro vs. Don Zimmer
The Yanks/Sox had their share of fisticuffs over the years. The funniest moment occurred during Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS. Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez and 72-year old Yankees coach Don Zimmer got into it during a bench-clearing brawl.
Bad Blood, New Chapter
The Yankees/Red Sox rivalry runs deep. Thee bad blood is a part of baseball lore. These two teams share a long history and a new chapter in the ongoing saga is about to be written this October. One team will move on and keep their World Series dreams alive.
The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas has the Red Sox as 3/1 favorites to win the World Series. The Yankees are a 10/1 pick.