It All Changed One Night

On Sunday, October 17th, 2004, the greatest rivalry in sports ended at Fenway Park. Nobody knew it at the time. But the night Dave Roberts stole second base in the bottom of the 9th inning in game 4 of the 2004 ALCS at Fenway Park, he not only changed the trajectory of that series. He also changed what was once “The Greatest Rivalry in Sports” forever.

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Forever Rivals

Lou Piniella (14) of the Yankees tangling with Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk after a collision at home plate during a game at Yankee Stadium in May 1976.

With the Yankees having a 17.5-game lead over the Red Sox and a 12.5-game lead in the division most series at 161st, River doesn’t seem to have the buzz that a Yankees/Red sox series that people of my vintage grew accustomed to. It’s not so much the division lead or the fact that nobody knows what channel the game is on most of the time. It’s the fact that the Red Sox have been successful, really successful, since finally exercising the “Curse of The Bambino” when they wiped out a 3-0 deficit and won the 2004 ALCS.

Yankees Couldn’t Lose

Aaron Boone celebrates after hitting a walk-off home run to end the 2003 ALCS.

The Yankees and their fans had always treated the Red Sox and their faithful like the weak little brother. Always came close. It always made it interesting but could always be counted on to lose to the big brother no matter what. The Yankees and Bucky Dent did it in 1978 to end the Red Sox season. In the 2003 ALCS, with the Yankees trailing at home in Game 7. It took an epic performance from Mariano Rivera and an extra-inning walk-off home run from now-Yankee manager Aaron Boone. The Yankees’ dominance over the Red Sox was never something anybody would doubt. But as we know, it takes 2 to tango. And once the little brother grows and pushes back, it’s not as interesting for the big brother anymore.

Boston Dominance

The Red Sox celebrate their 2018 World Series victory over the LA Dodgers at Dodger Stadium.

The Red Sox have won 4 World Series Championships (’04, ’07, ’13,’ 18) since that fateful steal of second base by Roberts. That alone is enough for fans of the Red Sox to laugh at Yankee fans. Especially the ones that still hold on to the “We have 27 rings” argument. In a world of “what have you done for me lately,” it is the Red Sox who have done more, and it isn’t close. A large demographic of Yankee fans who fill the stands at Yankee Stadium is barely old enough to have been around when Derek Jeter and company won their first of 5 championships in 1996. And factor in the success of all the other Boston professional franchises. Boston fans seem to have a swagger that they may not have had during the “Curse” years. 

Memories Last Forever

Pedro Martinez throws Don Zimmer to the Fenway Park turf during an altercation during game 3 of the 2003 ALCS.

Don’t get me wrong; once I find what channel, streaming service, or app I need to have to watch Yankees vs. Red Sox, I’ll be there. I am hoping that my Yankees beat Boston. I’ll wear my “Bahston Sawks Cack” t-shirt at some point, but as I get older, it just feels different. It’s just not the same. Maybe one day, there will be another Bucky “F’n” Dent. A David Ortiz home run into the bullpen at Fenway. A situation like the one we saw with Don Zimmer and Pedro Martinez, but because Dave Roberts stole that base on October 17th, 2004, the “Greatest Rivalry In Sports” was put to rest.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter, Brent Radlinsky, or on our podcast account, Fourteen Twenty Sports Bar Podcast. Be sure to listen to our podcast on Spreaker at The Fourteen Twenty Sports Bar Podcast (spreaker.com) or wherever it is you get your podcasts. And for more MLB news and notes, check out Belly Up Baseball.

About Author

Brent Radlinsky

I am a sports fan, podcaster and amateur umpire. But most importantly a New York Yankees fan. Born and raised in Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada. My love for everything in the world of sports has taken me for quite the ride.

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