Yankees–Red Sox rivalry
|First meeting||April 26, 1901
Oriole Park, Baltimore, Maryland
|Latest meeting||September 3, 2017
Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
April 10, 2018
|Regular season series||1,194-1,004–14 (Yankees)|
|Largest victory||22–1 Yankees (June 19, 2000)|
|Longest win streak|
|Current win streak||Yankees, 2|
The Yankees–Red Sox rivalry is a Major League Baseball (MLB) rivalry between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. The two teams have competed in MLB's American League (AL) for over 100 seasons and have since developed one of the fiercest rivalries in American sports. In 1919, Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold star player Babe Ruth to the Yankees, which was followed by an 86-year period in which the Red Sox did not win a World Series. This led to the popularization of a superstition known as the "Curse of the Bambino", which was one of the most well-known aspects of the rivalry.
The rivalry is often a heated subject of conversation, especially in the home region of both teams, the Northeastern United States. Until the 2014 season, every season's postseason had featured one or both of the AL East rivals since the inception of the wild card format and the resultant additional Division Series; they have faced each other in the AL Championship Series three times. The Yankees won twice, in 1999 and 2003; while the Red Sox won in 2004. In addition, the teams have twice met in the last regular-season series of a season to decide the league title, in 1904 (when the Red Sox won) and 1949 (when the Yankees won).
The Yankees and the Red Sox finished tied for first in 1978; subsequently, the Yankees won a high-profile tie-breaker game for the division title. The first-place tie came after the Red Sox had enjoyed a 14-game lead over the Yankees more than halfway through the season. Similarly, in the 2004 AL Championship Series, the Yankees ultimately lost a best-of-7 series after leading 3–0. The Red Sox comeback was the only time in baseball history that a team has come back from a 0–3 deficit to win a series. The Red Sox went on to win the World Series, effectively ending the 86-year-old curse.
The Yankees–Red Sox match-up is regarded by some sports journalists as the greatest rivalry in sports. Games between the two teams often generate considerable interest and receive extensive media coverage, including being broadcast on national television. National carriers of Major League Baseball coverage, including Fox/FS1, ESPN and MLB Network carry most of the games in the rivalry across the nation by default, regardless of team standings or playoff implications. Yankees–Red Sox games are some of the most-watched MLB games each season. Outside of baseball, the rivalry between the two teams has led to violence between fans, along with attention from politicians and other athletes.
- 1 Background
- 2 Early history: Glory of the Red Sox
- 3 Babe Ruth sold to Yankees
- 4 Curse of the Bambino
- 5 1980s and early 1990s
- 6 1996–2003: Yankee dominance and first postseason meetings
- 7 2004–present: The curse is broken
- 7.1 2004: Red Sox win World Series
- 7.2 2005–2009: Yankees, Red Sox win titles
- 7.3 2010–2012: Yankees fall short, Red Sox collapse
- 7.4 2013-present: Yankees continue to fall short; Red Sox champions again
- 8 Geography
- 9 Violence over rivalry
- 10 Rivalry outside of baseball
- 11 Broadcasts on television
- 12 See also
- 13 References
Since before the start of the American Revolution, Boston and New York City have shared an intense rivalry as cities. For more than a century after its founding, Boston was arguably the educational, cultural, artistic, and economic power in the United States. Boston's location as the closest American port to Europe and its concentration of elite schools and manufacturing hubs helped maintain this position for several decades. During this time period, New York was often looked down upon as the upstart, over-populated, dirty cousin to aristocratic and clean Boston.
In the 19th century, however, New York's economic power soon outpaced Boston's, fueled by possession of the terminus of the Erie Canal, which spurred massive growth in the manufacturing, shipping, insurance and financial services businesses. Another factor was its more rapid population expansion in comparison to that of Boston, driven by the growth of these industries, by New York's popularity as an immigration port of entry, and enhanced by a larger population base to begin with, even prior to the construction of the Canal – on the eve of the Revolution, New York, with 30,000 people, had nearly twice the population of Boston, with about 16,000. By the start of the 20th century the original dynamic, centered on Boston, had completely shifted as New York became the focus of American capitalism (especially on Wall Street); this change was reflected in the new national pastime. In fact the cities played two different versions of early baseball. The "Massachusetts Game", as it was called, was played on a field with four bases and with home plate in the middle; whereas, the "New York Game", popularized by the New York Knickerbocker Club, was played on a diamond with three bases. The "New York Game" spread throughout the nation after the American Civil War and became the foundation for the modern game of basesball.
Early history: Glory of the Red Sox
The Red Sox were one of the most successful teams in baseball from 1901 to 1918. They won the inaugural World Series in 1903 (as the Boston Americans; the team changed its name to Red Sox in 1908) and four more between 1912 and 1918. In 1901, the Yankees, then known as the Baltimore Orioles, played in Maryland for two seasons before moving north. The two teams had their first meeting while the Yankees franchise was in Baltimore on April 26, 1901, the inaugural year of the American League. On May 7, 1903, both teams played for the first time after the franchise moved to New York and became the Highlanders, in reference to playing games in the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan. The game was marked by a fight when Boston pitcher George Winter was knocked down. Boston would eventually go on to win the pennant and the inaugural 1903 World Series. The 1904 season featured the teams facing each other on opening day. Later in the season, the Highlanders, led by pitcher Jack Chesbro in his record-setting 41 game-winning season, met the Boston Americans in the season's final game to decide the American League pennant winner. Chesbro threw a wild pitch in the top of the ninth inning, allowing the winning run to score from third base, and Boston won the game, and the pennant. The New York Giants, who had already clinched the National League pennant, refused to play in the 1904 World Series because of a perception of the "Junior Circuit" as being inferior (and because of alleged animosity between American League founder and first president, Ban Johnson, and the hierarchy of the Giants, owner John T. Brush and his team's Hall of Fame coach, player-manager John McGraw); thus, there was no World Series that year. Not until 2004 would the Red Sox again defeat the Yankees in a title-deciding game.
Years later, on April 11, 1912, the Highlanders debuted their pinstripes in a game against Boston, by then known as the Red Sox. Nine days later, Boston opened Fenway Park with a game against the Highlanders, who had left their home field of Hilltop Park to play in the newly-rebuilt Polo Grounds; soon thereafter, in 1913, the team changed dropped the nickname Highlanders in favor of Yankees. Tris Speaker hit an RBI single in the bottom of the eleventh to give the Red Sox a 7–6 victory. Boston's victory in their first game at the new park failed to become front-page news, however, due to the coverage being devoted to the days-prior sinking of the Titanic. The 1912 team would go on to win a team record 105 games and their second World Series title, defeating the New York Giants.
Six years later, the Chicago Cubs scored two runs off of Babe Ruth in game 4 of the Series, snapping his then record World Series scoreless inning streak at 29 2⁄3 innings. The Red Sox won the game, 2–1, and went on to capture their fifth Series title, their third in four years, and fourth in seven years.
The Yankees would however receive one notable moment of glory against the Red Sox during this era. On April 24, 1917 Yankee pitcher George Mogridge threw a no-hitter at Fenway Park, the first in the ball park's history and first in Yankee history. It would also turn out to be the Yankees' only no-hitter where they allowed a run as they would win the game, 2–1.
Babe Ruth sold to Yankees
In 1916, Harry Frazee purchased the Red Sox, on credit, for $500,000. Despite Ruth's success with the Red Sox, owner and Broadway producer Frazee lost his patience with Ruth, who had threatened to hold out in lieu of a larger contract and become a distraction. After the Red Sox finished sixth in the American League in 1919, Frazee, needing money to finance a Broadway musical, No, No Nanette, sold pitcher-turned-outfielder Babe Ruth to the Yankees. Frazee received $125,000 and a loan of $300,000—secured on Fenway Park, the Red Sox' home stadium—for Ruth, despite Ruth having set the record for home runs with 29 in 1919. This began a series of deals with the Yankees that resulted in a long period of mediocrity for the Red Sox while the Yankees began their dynasty.
Ruth's arrival in New York simultaneously launched the Yankee dynasty while ravaging the Red Sox. While the Red Sox's five World Series titles were a record at the time, 1918 would be the team's last championship for 86 years. Meanwhile, Ruth's home run-hitting prowess anchored the Yankee line-up, which became known as "Murderers' Row" in the late 1920s. The Yankees reached the World Series seven times during Ruth's New York years, winning four. This abrupt reversal of fortunes for the Red Sox marked the beginning of the supposed "Curse of the Bambino." But it was not the Ruth deal alone that reversed the fortunes of both clubs. Frazee also sold many other players to the Yankees.
Robert W. Creamer reported that "[the] loan was made and relations between the two clubs continued to be cordial, with Frazee sending player after player to the Yankees over the next few seasons for more and more cash. This was no accident. Frazee and Yankees owner Jacob Ruppert were friends, and American League president Ban Johnson's attempts to drive Frazee out of the game had caused the five teams loyal to Johnson to make no deals with the Red Sox as long as Frazee owned the club, leaving only the Yankees and White Sox as trading partners. When the White Sox's reputation was destroyed in the Black Sox Scandal, Frazee's only option for trades was to deal with the Yankees.
The Red Sox soon became a baseball disaster area, finishing dead last nine times in eleven seasons." Among others, Wally Schang, Everett Scott, Carl Mays, Waite Hoyt, Joe Bush and Sam Jones went from the Sox to the Yankees in the next one to three years, along with Ed Barrow, the former Red Sox manager who became the Yankees' general manager and empire-builder for the first quarter-century of the Yankees' dynasty. Scott, a former Red Sox team captain, actually took the reins as Yankee captain from Ruth when he arrived and in doing so became the only player in history to be named captain for both teams.
Curse of the Bambino
From 1920 through 2003, the Yankees won 26 World Series championships and 39 pennants, compared to only four pennants for the Red Sox. In every year that the Red Sox won the pennant—1946, 1967, 1975 and 1986—they lost the World Series four games to three, leaving them with no World Series titles. During this time, the Red Sox finished second in the standings to the Yankees on twelve occasions—in 1938, 1939, 1941, 1942, 1949, 1977, 1978, and every year from 1998 to 2003. During the 84-year period, the Yankees finished with a better regular-season record than the Red Sox 66 times, leading one sportswriter to quip that the Yankees' rivalry with the Red Sox was much like the rivalry "between a hammer and a nail." The Yankees finished second in the standings to the Red Sox twice, in 1986 and 1995.
1920s and 1930s: First Yankee dynasty
Just two years after Ruth's sale, he went on to have a record setting season—statistically, one of the greatest in major league history for a batter. This propelled the Yankees to capture their first pennant and face their rival Giants. On October 5, 1921, the Yankees appeared in and won their very first World Series game. Ruth got hurt during the Series, and the Yankees eventually dropped the last three games, losing the Series five games to three to the Giants in the last ever best-of-nine Series. Both the Yankees and Giants would play in the 1922 World Series as well, a series that would be the Yankees' last in the two teams' shared stadium at the Polo Grounds as the Giants served the Yankees an eviction notice after the 1921 season.
The Yankees would eventually move across the Harlem River to the Bronx into Yankee Stadium. On April 18, 1923, both the Red Sox and Yankees played for the first time at the Yankees new home. Over 74,200 people watched the Yankees defeat the Red Sox, 4–1, in the first game played at the stadium. Babe Ruth hit the new stadium's first home run, christening the stadium as "the House that Ruth Built." Ruth would finish the year with a .393 batting average, while being walked a then-record 170 times. The Yankees met the New York Giants for the third straight year in the World Series. The 1923 World Series resulted with the Yankees winning their first World Championship. Of the 24 players on the Yankees' first championship team, 11 came from the Red Sox.
Several lesser known moments in the rivalry occurred during the 1930s. Pitcher Red Ruffing was traded in 1930 from the Red Sox to the Yankees. Ruffing, who had limited success with the Red Sox, would go on to a Hall of Fame career with the Yankees winning 6 World Series with them. On August 12, 1934, then the largest crowd in the history of Fenway Park, 46,766, witnessed Babe Ruth's final game at Fenway Park in a Yankees uniform in a game Boston would lose. A year later, the crowd record would be broken again when the two teams met again on September 22, 1935. Record crowds would also show up at Yankee Stadium. On May 30, 1938, before 83,533 spectators, Yankees outfielder Jake Powell and Red Sox player-manager Joe Cronin fought on the field and beneath the stands. Both players were fined and suspended for 10 games. The Yankees and Red Sox would finish first and second in the League respectively that year as well as the following. The Yankees went on to sweep the Chicago Cubs in the World Series and the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series a year later.
1940s–1960s: Teddy Ballgame, Joltin' Joe the Yankee Clipper
The rivalry intensified in 1941 when Ted Williams of the Red Sox batted .406, becoming the last player to bat over .400 in a season. Despite his accomplishment, Williams lost the AL MVP race to the Yankees' Joe DiMaggio, who holds the record for a hitting streak, with 56 straight games in which he had a hit. DiMaggio's unprecedented streak started on May 15, 1941 in a game where the Yankees lost 13–1 to the Chicago White Sox. Williams later reminisced about his rivalry with DiMaggio saying "(Joe) DiMaggio was the greatest all-around player I ever saw. His career cannot be summed up in numbers and awards. It might sound corny, but he had a profound and lasting impact on the country." Both teams almost swapped the two players. In 1947, Boston Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey and Yankees GM Larry MacPhail were rumored to have verbally agreed to trade DiMaggio for Williams, but MacPhail refused to include Yogi Berra and the deal fell through. Joe DiMaggio's younger brother Dom would play for the Red Sox his entire career during the 1940s.
The Red Sox won 15 games in a row in 1946. They were unstoppable and were in first place all but two days in the season, and would play in their first World Series game since 1918, having finished ahead of the Yankees in the American League for the first time since selling Babe Ruth. Since the Red Sox last pennant in 1918, the Yankees had won 14 pennants and 10 World Series. Although the tide against the Yankees had turned, Boston would eventually lose the Series four games to three to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Former manager for the Yankees, Joe McCarthy came out of retirement after a feud with Yankee ownership to sign with the Red Sox as their manager in 1948. Both the Yankees and the Red Sox were involved in a tight pennant race with the Cleveland Indians until the final weekend. The Red Sox eliminated the Yankees in the final series at Fenway Park, overcoming four DiMaggio hits in the final game to tie Cleveland for the pennant. The situation forced the first-ever one-game playoff in AL history, which the Indians won 8–3 at Fenway Park. The city of Boston missed out on a chance for its first all-Boston World Series, as the Indians went on to defeat the Boston Braves in the Series, the last one the Indians have won to date.
A year later, the Red Sox entered the final series of the season at Yankee Stadium needing only one win over the Yankees to advance to the World Series. The Red Sox found themselves up by one game with two games left against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. The Sox lost 5–3 on the last day of the season after falling 5–4 the previous day, resulting in the Yankees winning their 16th American League pennant. The Yankees went on to defeat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1949 World Series for their 12th World Championship.
The 1951 season opened up at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees defeated the Red Sox, which was PA announcer Bob Sheppard first game. Sheppard would go on to serve PA duties at Yankee Stadium for another 56 years. On September 28 of that year, Yankees pitcher Allie Reynolds pitched a no-hitter against the Red Sox. A year later, Red Sox outfielder Jimmy Piersall and Yankees second baseman Billy Martin exchanged insults before a game in Boston, and ended up fighting in the tunnel under the stands. The fight was eventually broken up by Yankees coaches Bill Dickey and Oscar Melillo, and Boston starting pitcher Ellis Kinder. Piersall changed out of his bloody shirt and promptly fought with teammate Maury McDermott. The Red Sox won 5–2 with Piersall sitting the game out.
Starting in 1949, the Yankees began a streak of five consecutive World Series titles from 1949 to 1953 and breaking their previous streak of four straight titles from 1936 to 1939. They would also go on to win 14 pennants in 16 years starting in 1949.
1961–1980: Milestones, fights, neck and neck finishes and the Bucky Dent game
The 1961 season saw the chase of Babe Ruth's 1927 single season home run record by Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle. Both Maris and Mantle would continue to reach the home run record until Mantle got injured late in the season, leaving Maris to reach the record. On the last day of the season, Maris broke the record with his 61st home run of the year off Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard at Yankee Stadium. Former Hall of Fame shortstop for the Yankees, Phil Rizzuto, called the shot in what was one of his first games as an announcer. The Yankees won the game 1–0 to win their 26th American League pennant and then to win their 19th World Series title.
The next year in 1962, the Red Sox had been in the middle of a streak of 8 losing seasons. The team was so bad, that after a 13-3 loss to the Yankees on July 26, Red Sox ace Gene Conley got off the bus and attempted to leave the country and go to Israel. Conley was denied his request because he did not have a passport. Nonetheless, Conley did stay away from the team for 3 days.
Years later in 1967, Red Sox pitcher Billy Rohr came within a single strike of a no-hitter at Yankee Stadium. Elston Howard hit a two-out, two-strike single in the ninth to break the no-hit bid. Rohr completed the one-hitter, but ultimately finished his career with only two wins, both coming against the Yankees. Later that year, Red Sox third baseman Joe Foy hit a grand slam during the first game of a two-game series. In the second game, Yankee pitcher Thad Tillotson threw two brushback pitches at Foy before beaning him in the batting helmet. In the next inning, Red Sox pitcher Jim Lonborg beaned Tillotson. Both pitchers yelled at each other, and then a brawl ensued. During the fight, Red Sox outfielder Reggie Smith picked up and body-slammed Tillotson to the ground. Just two months later, both teams were involved in the longest game ever played (by innings) at Yankee Stadium. New York recorded a 20-inning, 4–3 victory over Boston. Earlier that year on August 3, the Yankees traded Howard, the first African-American player in franchise history, to the Red Sox to help bolster their team during the pennant race. When Howard returned to Yankee Stadium in a Red Sox uniform, the Yankee fans gave him a standing ovation. Boston would be led by Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski's historic season winning the batting triple crown, leading the Red Sox to the pennant in what was a dream year for the Sox. Howard's contribution would be instrumental in the 1967 World Series, but he and Yastrzemski would lose to Bob Gibson and the St. Louis Cardinals four games to three.
In 1973, the American League decided to adopt the designated hitter rule. On April 6, opening the season at Fenway Park, Ron Blomberg of the Yankees became the first designated hitter in Major League history. Red Sox pitcher Luis Tiant walked Blomberg in his first plate appearance of the game. Later that year at Fenway Park, with the score tied 2–2 in the top of the ninth, Yankees catcher Thurman Munson attempted to score from third base on a missed bunt by Gene Michael. He crashed into Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk resulting in a fight with Munson punching Fisk in the face. The rivalry intensified in the 1970s with the fans too, as just a year later in 1974 at Fenway Park, Yankees first baseman Chris Chambliss was struck in the right arm with a dart thrown from the stands after hitting an RBI ground-rule double. Two years later, Yankee outfielder Lou Piniella would crash into Fisk feet first in an attempt to score in the sixth inning of a game at Yankee Stadium. The two benches cleared while Piniella and Fisk brawled at home plate. After the fight apparently died down and order appeared to be restored, Sox pitcher Bill Lee and Yankee third baseman Graig Nettles and center fielder Mickey Rivers began to exchange words, resulting in another fight. Lee suffered a separated left shoulder from the tilt and missed the next 51 games of the 1976 season. He would continue to pitch until 1982. The 1976 season saw the Yankees win the pennant, but lose to the Big Red Machine in the 1976 World Series, just like the Red Sox had done a year prior in the 1975 World Series in which Carlton Fisk hit his famous home run off of the left field foul pole at Fenway Park.
After the Yankees' loss to the Reds, owner George Steinbrenner committed to sign marquee free agent Reggie Jackson to help win a championship. The Yankees, Red Sox, and Baltimore Orioles would keep leap frogging each other the entire year during the division race. The Yankees would win the division for the second year in a row, while the Orioles and Red Sox finished tied for second, 2 1⁄2 games behind the Yankees. Jackson's entry onto the Yankees initially had caused a lot of friction on them. In the middle game of what would prove to be a three-game series sweep by the Red Sox at Fenway Park, Yankees manager Billy Martin pulled Reggie Jackson off the field in mid-inning for failing to hustle on a ball hit to the outfield. The extremely angry and highly animated Martin had to be restrained by coaches Yogi Berra and Elston Howard from getting into a fistfight with Jackson in the dugout during the nationally televised Saturday afternoon game. Eventually, emotions calmed down for the season and the Yankees came together to recapture the pennant and defeat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1977 World Series, their first since 1962.
In 1978, the Red Sox, led by Jim Rice, Carl Yastrzemski, Fred Lynn and catcher Carlton Fisk, and managed by future Yankee coach Don Zimmer, were looking good for the World Series (a.k.a. "Fall Classic") for the second time in the decade. They led the Yankees in the standings by 14 games in mid-July, with less than three months to go in the regular season. The Yankees turned their season around just as the Red Sox seemed to collapse. By September 7, the Yankees had whittled down the 14-game deficit to only four games, just in time for a four-game series at Fenway Park in Boston. The Yankees won all four games in the series by a combined score of 42–9. This series became known as the "Boston Massacre". On September 16, the Yankees held a 3 1⁄2-game lead over the Red Sox, but the Sox won 12 of their next 14 games (and their last eight in a row) to overcome that deficit and finish in a first-place tie with the Yankees. A one-game playoff was scheduled in Boston to determine who would win the AL East pennant for 1978.
Boston pitted former Yankee pitcher Mike Torrez against the Yankees' Cy Young Award winner, Ron Guidry, who took a 24–3 record into the game. The Sox were beating Guidry 2–0 in the top of the seventh inning when light-hitting Yankee shortstop Bucky Dent hit a two-out, three-run home run over Fenway Park's Green Monster to take a 3–2 lead. It was only his fifth home run of the season. The Yankees later led 5–2 and held on to win 5–4 when Yastrzemski popped out with runners on first and third, ending the Red Sox' season. Yankees closer Goose Gossage notched his 27th save of the season. Gossage would later comment years later about how he was spat on at Fenway Park and had beer thrown in his face. "There is no rivalry in sports that rivals the Yankees—Red Sox...that playoff game in '78–it felt like the playoffs and World Series were exhibition games after that." The headline in The Boston Globe the next day summed it all up: "Destiny 5, Red Sox 4." New York went on to defeat the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series for their second straight championship.
1980s and early 1990s
1980s: No championships
The 1980s was the only decade that neither the Yankees nor the Red Sox won a World Series. Although both teams went to a World Series during that decade, the Red Sox were not serious contenders in the Yankees' playoff years (1980 and 1981), but the Yankees seriously contended in the Red Sox' playoff years (1986 and 1988).
The Yankees lost the World Series in 1981, while the Red Sox loss came in 1986. Both times, the teams lost after being up 2–0 in their respective World Series, and both losses happened in New York (The Red Sox lost the 1986 World Series at Shea Stadium). For the Yankees, the loss in 1981 marked the beginning of the team's demise and downfall in the 1980s and early 1990s. Despite the lack of championships, the rivalry between the teams did have some memorable highlights. Yankee left-hander Dave Righetti threw a no-hitter against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. One of the game's greatest hitters, Wade Boggs, struck out to end the game. This was the first no-hitter thrown by a left-hander at Yankee Stadium and the first no-hitter by a Yankee since Don Larsen's perfect game against Subway Series rival Brooklyn Dodgers in Game five of the 1956 World Series and the first regular no-hitter by a Yankee since 1951.
On October 4, 1986, Righetti once again made history against the Red Sox when he saved both games of a doubleheader against them, finishing the season with 46 saves, and breaking the major league record shared by Dan Quisenberry and Bruce Sutter. The record would stand until Bobby Thigpen saved 57 games for the Chicago White Sox in 1990, which would also be Righetti's last season with the Yankees. Righetti retained the single-season record for left-handers until 1993, when Randy Myers saved 53 games for the Chicago Cubs; Righetti still owns the AL record for left-handers.
Righetti's teammate, first baseman and defending American League MVP Don Mattingly, came into the last game batting .352, second in the league to Boston's Wade Boggs. With Boggs sitting out the game, Mattingly needed to go 6 for 6 to win the batting title. Although Mattingly would hit a home run in his first at bat and a double later on, he fell short and Boggs won the batting title. Mattingly would be named most outstanding player that year by the press, but fell short to Boggs' teammate Roger Clemens in the AL MVP voting.
Despite Righetti's pitching on the last day of the season, the Red Sox still won the division and marched on in the playoffs. The Yankees' bad performance during the 1980s came when the Red Sox faced the Yankees' cross-town rivals, the New York Mets, in the World Series. The New York Times called the series a "painful series". Newsday called it "woeful days for Yankee fans". Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News called the series "the World Series that is the Yankee nightmare". Both Newsday and The Boston Globe said there were Mets T-shirts saying "Steinbrenner's nightmare," referring to Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. John Powers of the Globe quoted Claire Smith, who covered the Yankees for the Hartford Courant, as having said "this really is the World Series of the nightmares".
In game six of the World Series, Boston (leading the series three games to two) took a 5–3 lead in the top of the 10th inning. In the bottom half of the frame, Red Sox reliever Calvin Schiraldi retired the first two batters, putting the team within one out of winning the World Series. The Mets, however, scored three unanswered runs, tying the game on a wild pitch from Bob Stanley and winning it when Boston first baseman Bill Buckner allowed a ground ball hit by the Mets' Mookie Wilson to roll through his legs, scoring Ray Knight from second base. In the seventh game, the Red Sox took an early 3–0 lead, only to lose 8–5. The collapses in the last two games prompted a series of articles by George Vecsey of The New York Times fueling speculation that the Red Sox were "cursed".
The 1987 season saw rivalry at the end of the season, as on September 29, Yankee first baseman Don Mattingly set a MLB record by hitting his sixth grand slam home-run of the season against the Red Sox
The competitiveness of the teams continued the following year. Co-captains Ron Guidry and Willie Randolph had led the Yankees to first place two weeks after the All-Star break started. On July 28, the Yankees fell out of first place, and the Red Sox won their second division title in three years. Boston went on to face the Oakland Athletics in the 1988 American League Championship Series, but would end up getting swept.
The tone of baseball rivalries changed in the early 1990s; fraternization between players who had moved to different teams or knew each other from various ventures kept baseball rivalries to a "friendly" level. Major League Baseball's 1994 divisional re-alignment solidified the rivalry between the Yankees and Red Sox. Prior to the realignment, the American League East Division contained seven teams, spread out over a wider geographical area, including the Cleveland Indians and the Milwaukee Brewers.
In the early to mid-1990s, the two teams were seldom equally good. The Yankees had the worst record in the American League when the Red Sox won their third division title in five years in 1990. In 1992, both teams finished at or near the bottom of the AL East.
In 1990, Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy wrote a book titled The Curse of the Bambino, criticizing the Red Sox for the sale of Babe Ruth, and publicized the curse. When the Red Sox were at Yankee Stadium during a weekend in September 1990, Yankee fans started to chant "1918!" to taunt the Red Sox, reminding them of the last time they won a World Series. Each time the Red Sox were at Yankee Stadium afterward, demeaning chants of "1918!" echoed through the stadium. Yankee fans also taunted the Red Sox with signs saying "1918!", "CURSE OF THE BAMBINO", pictures of Babe Ruth, and wearing "1918!" T-shirts each time they were at the Stadium.
On June 6, 1990, before a Yankees–Red Sox game at Fenway Park, the Yankees fired Bucky Dent as their manager, making Fenway Park the scene of his worst moment as manager, although he had his greatest moment as a player there. Red Sox fans felt retribution as Dent was fired on their field, while players on the Yankees, including former Red Sox catcher Rick Cerone and Mattingly felt Dent was used as a scapegoat. Dan Shaughnessy criticized Steinbrenner for firing Dent in Boston and said he should "have waited until the Yankees got to Baltimore" to fire Dent. He said that "if Dent had been fired in Seattle or Milwaukee, this would have been just another event in an endless line of George's jettisons. But it happened in Boston and the nightly news had its hook." He also said that "the firing was only special because...it's the first time a Yankee manager...was purged on the ancient Indian burial grounds of the Back Bay."
On July 30, almost two months after firing Dent at Fenway Park, Steinbrenner was suspended from day-to-day operations of the Yankees. There were cheers at both Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park over the news of the suspension of Steinbrenner. At Yankee Stadium, fans chanted and cheered "It's Over! It's Over!" However, the players said it was sad Steinbrenner was suspended.
Mel Hall's game-winning three-run home run in the ninth inning gave the Yankees a dramatic Memorial Day win over the Red Sox in 1991. Announcer John Sterling accentuated the word "the" when saying "the Yankees win!" This accentuation would become a characteristic trademark of Sterling for the rest of his broadcasting career.
The 1993 season saw long-time Red Sox fan favorite Wade Boggs defect to the Yankees after eleven seasons with Boston. Later in September 1993, the Yankees defeated Boston at Yankee Stadium via a last-moment reprieve. Trailing 3–1, Mike Stanley's apparent fly out with two outs in the ninth was nullified by a fan running onto the field prior to the pitch being thrown. The umpire had called time and when play resumed, Stanley singled. The Yankees would rally to score three runs and win on a Mattingly single.
The Yankees' 1980s demise and downfall continued into the early 1990s and was at its frustrating peak in 1994, when they finished with the best record in the American League in a season that was prematurely halted by the 1994–95 Major League Baseball strike, which left New York sports fans disappointed that Mattingly had not played in a postseason despite being poised to do so that year. At that time, he led active players in both games played and at-bats without participating in a postseason game. Throughout October, the news media added to the embarrassment when they often made references to dates that games in the World Series would have been played. That year, the Yankees and Red Sox would have finished the season against each other at Fenway Park. Both managers, Buck Showalter of the Yankees and Butch Hobson of the Red Sox, who made their managerial debuts against each other, were fired as a result of or during the strike.
The strike was the harbinger of the 1995 season for the Yankees. Although the Red Sox jumped out to a fast start and finished the season in first place, the Yankees were not serious contenders for the division title. With the Yankees clinching the inaugural American League Wild Card on the last day of the season, the Yankees and Red Sox reached the post-season in the same season for the first time. Before the postseason began, Mattingly contemplated about the first-ever playoff series in the rivalry, saying, "That would be pretty cool. It wouldn't hurt the rivalry any. There'd be a few deaths...just kidding". Both teams lost in separate ALDS series, with the Red Sox being swept by the Cleveland Indians and the Yankees losing in five games to the Seattle Mariners. For the Yankees, the loss led to another post-strike fallout: both Showalter and general manager Gene Michael were fired as a result of the loss. Similarly, the firing of Michael as Yankees manager and the loss in the 1981 World Series were fallouts from the strike that year. In fact, the 1981 strike was antecedence to the Yankees' demise and downfall of the 1980s and 1990s and the strike in 1994 was part of that demise.
Beginning with the 1995 playoffs, every playoffs have featured the Yankees and/or the Red Sox. As of 2012, the two rivals have made up 25 out of 34 possible playoff appearances, with the two teams reaching the playoffs in the same year eight times (1995, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2009). The streak ended in 2014.
1996–2003: Yankee dominance and first postseason meetings
Late 1990s: Yankee dynasty
A year after captain Don Mattingly's retirement in 1995, the Yankees won the 1996 World Series. It was their first in 18 years and the first of former Red Sox player Wade Boggs' career, coming almost 10 years to the day he lost it to Mets. Boggs celebrated the victory with a memorable moment of jumping on the horse of a NYPD officer during the celebration. The Yankees, like the rest of baseball, were still reeling from what was lost in 1994, because many members of the 1994 team were not there in 1996. Showalter said the 1994 strike "sits in my craw", and that he could not watch the World Series because "I feel badly for the fans".
The Yankees did not reach the World Series in 1997, but came back with one of the better seasons in baseball history in 1998, which culminated in a win over the San Diego Padres in the 1998 World Series. The Red Sox, too, made the playoffs in 1998, but as a Wild Card, they did not seriously contend for the division title. They ultimately lost their ALDS.
About four months after victory, the Yankees controversially traded fan favorite David Wells to the Toronto Blue Jays for Roger Clemens, a fan favorite with the Red Sox between 1984 and 1996. Clemens was coming off two consecutive season with the Blue Jays where he had won both the pitching triple crown and the Cy Young Award in both 1997 and 1998.
Once the 1999 season started, a moment of peace occurred between the fans. Yankees manager Joe Torre returned to Fenway Park for his first game following a battle with prostate cancer. While the managers were exchanging lineup cards, the Boston crowd gave Torre a long standing ovation, to which he tipped his cap. Good relations were seen during the All-Star Game at Fenway Park. Yankee manager Joe Torre, manager for the American League team, replaced starting shortstop Nomar Garciaparra of the Red Sox with Derek Jeter. Garciaparra received a standing ovation from the fans after Jeter came in to replace him (they also embraced each other at this time). Later in the game, when he came to bat, Jeter gave Garciaparra a tribute by mimicking his batting stance. Nine years later, in a similar fashion, Red Sox manager Terry Francona managed the American League team at the All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium, in the stadium's final season.
On September 10, 1999, Chili Davis' second-inning home run was the only hit by the Yankees against Pedro Martínez, who struck out 17 Yankees—the most strikeouts against a Yankee team ever. Martínez retired the last 22 batters after giving up the home run, including striking out eight of the final nine batters. The teams finished first and second in their division and both made the playoffs in the same season. This led to the very first post-season meeting in the longtime rivalry.
1999 ALCS: First postseason meeting
In 1999, the Yankees and Red Sox faced each other for the first time in the ALCS. The Yankees were the defending World Series champions and in the midst of a run of three consecutive World Championships, while Boston had not appeared in the ALCS since 1990. The Yankees won the first game of the ALCS against the Red Sox on a 10th-inning walk-off home run by Bernie Williams off Boston reliever Rod Beck. The game was the first actual postseason meeting between the rivals because the one-game playoff in 1978 technically counted as a regular season game. Intensity built up due to this historic, first-ever postseason meeting between the two longtime rivals. The Yankees would win the first two games at home with 7th-inning comebacks.
The lone bright spot for the Red Sox came in Game 3 at Boston's Fenway Park, in what had been a much anticipated pitching match-up of former Red Sox star Roger Clemens, who was now pitching for the Yankees, and Boston ace Pedro Martínez. Martínez struck out twelve and did not allow a run through seven innings of work; Clemens was hit hard, giving up five earned runs and only lasting two innings of a 13–1 Red Sox victory. The Yankees rebounded to win Games 4 and 5, clinching the American League pennant and advancing to the Series, where they swept the Atlanta Braves, (including two 8th-inning comebacks). The loss to Pedro Martínez was the Yankees' only postseason loss, as the team went 11–1.
The following year at Fenway Park, the Yankees beat the Red Sox, 22–1, handing Boston its most lopsided home loss ever. The Yankees scored 16 total runs in the 8th and 9th innings. The Yankees lost 15 of their final 18 games that season and finished with a record of 87–74, but the Red Sox failed to catch up and finished 2.5 games out of first to lose another division title to the Yankees. Despite having the lowest winning percentage of any postseason qualifier in 2000, the Yankees won their third consecutive World Series and 26th overall, in the first Subway Series since 1956, over their cross-town rivals, the New York Mets, in 5 games.
A year later, David Cone, one of the key players in the then-most recent Yankee dynasty, started for the Red Sox against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium to the sound of a standing ovation despite playing for the arch-rival Red Sox. It marked Cone's first return to Yankee Stadium since leaving the team. Cone would later take part in another notable game later that year when he went up against newly acquired Yankee pitcher Mike Mussina. Mussina had come within one strike of pitching a perfect game against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Carl Everett's 9th-inning two-out, two-strike single was the only baserunner allowed by Mussina in a 1–0 Yankee win. Coincidentally, David Cone was the last Yankee pitcher to throw a perfect game, in 1999.
On September 10, the two teams had a game against each other rained out. The next day, the country saw one of its biggest tragedies bring both sides together. Following the terrorist attacks on New York City's Twin World Trade Center Towers, Boston fans displayed signs saying "Boston Loves New York" in a rare moment of peace between the two sides of the rivalry. On September 23, the Yankees' home field hosted a memorial service titled, "Prayer for America". The warm feeling of solidarity would once again be short-lived as just prior to the 2003 season, Red Sox President Larry Lucchino labeled New York Yankees the "Evil Empire" after Cuban free agent José Contreras opted to sign with the Yankees instead of the Red Sox. The new ownership group had made it their personal mission to win a championship.
2001–2003: Unbalanced schedule
Major League Baseball changed its scheduling format beginning in 2001, further intensifying division matchups throughout the league. The new "unbalanced schedule" allowed for additional games in each season between divisional rivals, replacing additional series with teams outside the division. Due to the change, the Red Sox and Yankees now played each other 17 or more times each season (18 times in 2001). The scheduling drew criticism both when it was enacted and after the fact, with some analysts even positing the unbalanced schedule hurt intra-divisional play.
In 2002, the Red Sox asked the Yankees for permission to interview one of George Steinbrenner's assistants, former Yankees general manager Gene Michael, for their vacant general manager position, but Steinbrenner declined their request. Boston Red Sox then hired Theo Epstein, a protégé of Red Sox President and CEO Larry Lucchino, as general manager, and at 28 years old, he was the youngest general manager in baseball history.
Both teams would face off in the ALCS once again in 2003. Entering the series, the Red Sox were the favorites to reach the 2003 World Series and The New York Times had endorsed a showdown between the Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs, the latter of whom had not been to the World Series since 1945 and had not won a championship since 1908.
Due to the unbalanced schedule, when Boston forced the ALCS to a full seven games, the seventh game set a major league record for the rivalry between the two teams: it marked the first time two major league teams have played more than 25 games against each other over the course of a single season.
In the top of the fourth inning of Game 3 of the ALCS at Fenway Park, Red Sox starting pitcher Pedro Martínez hit Yankee batter Karim García, prompting an argument between the two players, which ended with both teams clearing the benches but no punches being thrown. In the bottom half of the inning, a pitch from Roger Clemens to Manny Ramírez was high and inside, and a brawl ensued. Ramírez swore at Clemens for the pitch. Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer, then 72 years old, and who had been the manager of the "doomed" 1978 Boston Red Sox, charged at Martínez; the pitcher grabbed Zimmer by the head and swung him to the ground. Later, midway through the ninth inning, García and Yankee pitcher Jeff Nelson fought with a Fenway Park groundskeeper, Paul Williams, in the bullpen. Two Boston Police officers issued a report saying Nelson and García engaged in "an unprovoked attack" on Williams and summonses would be sought for the two New York Yankees for assault and battery. After reviewing the incident, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said he was "very disappointed" by the behavior of the participants and fined Martínez $50,000, Ramírez $25,000, García $10,000, and Zimmer $5,000.
In game seven at Yankee Stadium, the Red Sox held a 5–2 lead through seven innings due to an ineffective start by Roger Clemens, but the Yankees remained in the game because of three shutout innings of relief by Mike Mussina in his first career relief appearance. After Boston Red Sox starter Pedro Martínez gave up a run in the eighth, manager Grady Little visited the mound but elected to leave a tiring Martínez to complete the inning. Martínez then gave up a ground-rule double to Hideki Matsui, and Yankees catcher Jorge Posada blooped a double into center field that drove in two runners and tied the game. The game went into extra innings and in the bottom of the eleventh inning, leadoff hitter Aaron Boone, grandson of Ray Boone, a (retired) longtime scout with the Red Sox, hit a solo home run off of Tim Wakefield to left field, ending the game and the series, giving the Yankees their 39th American League pennant. The Long Island, New York, newspaper Newsday went to the press before the game was over, and thinking Boston would win the game, editorialized as to what was wrong with the Yankees, and why they had lost the ALCS to the Red Sox. In a postgame interview, Red Sox firstbaseman Kevin Millar described the emotions in the Red Sox locker room: "It was like we were all back in high school, like we'd all just gotten beat in the state playoffs, and everyone was going to graduate.... When you're a teenager and you lose the big football game, that's when you see guys cry uncontrollably. You don't [usually] see that much at this level."
2004–present: The curse is broken
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2004: Red Sox win World Series
In an effort to build up their lineup, the Red Sox set up a potential deal that would send reigning AL MVP Alex Rodriguez to Boston and Red Sox Manny Ramírez and other players to Texas. The deal eventually fell through after Rodríguez indicated he would not go against the MLBPA, which opposes a proposed renegotiation, which would have potentially reduced Rodríguez's earnings in the later years of his contract. A freak off-season basketball injury to Aaron Boone just several months removed from his historic home run had Yankees management looking at possible options to replace him. Despite being courted by Boston for nearly three months, Rodríguez was traded from Texas to New York.
New Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who had confounded New York in the 2001 World Series as an Arizona Diamondback, appeared at a Boston Bruins home ice hockey game in Boston wearing a "Yankee hater" hat.
That year, the Red Sox won an eventful season series against the Yankees. A 13-inning comeback win for the Yankees on July 1 was punctuated by a catch from Derek Jeter, who ran and dove into the stands at full speed and came out with facial lacerations when Trot Nixon hit a pop up in an area deep behind third base. On July 24, Jason Varitek shoved his glove into the face of the Yankees' Álex Rodríguez after Rodríguez was hit by a pitch from Bronson Arroyo, causing a bench-clearing brawl. Though he was ejected (along with Rodríguez) from the game following the incident, the moment sparked Boston to an 11–10 come-from-behind victory. Both Rodríguez and Varitek were each suspended four games and fined $2,000 for the brawl.
Despite their success in the rivalry series, the Red Sox still finished second to the Yankees in the AL East for the seventh straight season. Both teams would advance to the ALCS for the second straight year.
2004 ALCS: The curse is broken
After the melodrama of the 2003 ALCS, a rematch in 2004 was hotly anticipated by baseball fans. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said "I think Boston...really are...a mirror image of us in terms of...aggressiveness and desire to win". Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina summarized the buildup: "This is what everyone was hoping for...it's a rematch of last year, with the best two teams in the American League".
Outfielder Johnny Damon said of Boone's home run: "If we do advance to the World Series and win, it's a better story that we went through New York. We needed to get back here. This is where a lot of hearts were broken, and we're in a perfect seat to stop the hurting." Damon told USA Today: "If we are going to win the World Series, it's better to beat the Yankees to get there. Otherwise, everybody will say, 'Well, you didn't have to face the Yankees.' I think we have the best team, so I hope the best team wins. But the Yankees are no slouches. We know that [Gary] Sheffield can hit every single pitch thrown to him."
The Yankees won the first three games of the series, including a 19–8 rout in Game 3. No team in the history of baseball had ever won a best-of-seven series after being down three games to none. Entering the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 4 at Fenway Park, Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera was attempting to close out a 4–3 lead. But after a leadoff walk to Kevin Millar, pinch-runner Dave Roberts stole second and came around to score on an RBI single by Bill Mueller. Boston won the game in the bottom of the 12th inning on a home run by David Ortiz. Game 5 featured another extra-inning Boston comeback, as the Red Sox tied the game in the 8th inning, and won it in the 14th on a single hit by Ortiz that drove in Damon from second to make it 4-3 Red Sox. In Game 6, Curt Schilling, who tore a tendon sheath in his right ankle during the American League Divisional Series against Anaheim, pitched seven innings of one-run ball. Schilling's tendon had been sutured to his ankle to relieve the discomfort and was given local anesthetic and painkillers for the game. During the game, his sock started to absorb the blood from his freshly sutured ankle, and "the bloody sock" instantly became an indelible image of the dramatic series. A controversial call was made when Alex Rodriguez was called out after he intentionally slapped the ball out of Arroyo's hand while running to first base. Boston held on to win the contest, 4–2. They then completed their historic comeback with a blowout win in Game 7 by a score of 10–3. New York Yankees blowing the 3–0 lead has been considered the biggest collapse in the history of the rivalry.
In Boston, celebrations marking their win over the Yankees was marred by a tragedy. Moments after the Red Sox beat the Yankees, Victoria Snelgrove, an Emerson College junior, was mortally wounded when police fired a crowd control projectile into a group of celebrating fans. Boston Red Sox outfielder Trot Nixon said in response "I'd give Game 7 back to have her back." The funeral services for Snelgrove took place on October 26, 2004, the day before the Curse of the Bambino died. The Red Sox won their first World Series championship in 86 years, completing a sweep of St. Louis in the 2004 World Series.
When the Red Sox held their World Series victory parade, Manny Ramírez was handed a sign by one of the spectators part of the way through the parade, which read, "Jeter is playing golf today. This is better!"
2005–2009: Yankees, Red Sox win titles
When the two teams played for the first time at Yankee Stadium, on April 3, Yankee fans started new taunts, saying "The Curse of 1918 is finally over (86 years). Let the new curse 2090 begin." They also projected the next Red Sox championship with signs saying "1918-2004-2090." Just a week later, the Red Sox received their World Series rings at Fenway Park before they played the Yankees. All of the Yankees went to the top step of the dugout to applaud the Red Sox accomplishment at the urging of Yankees manager Joe Torre. During the announcement of the lineups, Red Sox fans reciprocated by giving Yankee closer Mariano Rivera (who had struggled against the Red Sox) a loud, standing ovation, despite their booing of Alex Rodriguez. Rivera laughed and tipped his cap. In New York, the YES Network, the Yankees television network, declined to broadcast it. Instead, a fixed camera shot was focused tightly on correspondent Kimberly Jones as she described in general terms the events surrounding her; afterwards, YES was roundly criticized for the move. The Red Sox won the game 8–1.
Just days later, Yankee right fielder Gary Sheffield's cap was knocked off by a Red Sox fan while trying to pick up a fair ball in right field during the 8th inning at Fenway Park. In response, Sheffield pushed the fan. The fan, Chris House, was ejected from the stadium and stripped of his season tickets. Another fan who threw beer at Sheffield was forbidden to buy game tickets for the rest of that season.  The season ended with both teams, already with guaranteed playoff berths, playing each other for the division crown on the last day of the season in a game that had the Yankees come out on top. Both teams wound up losing in the 2005 ALDS, the Yankees to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Red Sox to the eventual World Series champion that year, the Chicago White Sox.
The Red Sox acquired starting pitcher Josh Beckett, who pitched a complete game shutout for the Marlins against the Yankees to end the 2003 World Series, the end of the 2005 season. The Yankees would follow with their own off-season acquisition of former Red Sox outfielder Johnny Damon, a fan-favorite during his four years in Boston. Damon returned to Fenway Park the following May to a mix of cheers and boos as he tipped his helmet to the fans.
The Yankees defeated the Red Sox at Fenway Park and completed a five-game sweep of the Red Sox in the first five-game series between the teams in 33 years, evoking memories of 1978's "Boston Massacre". The Yankees outscored the Red Sox 49–26 and pushed their division lead from 1 1⁄2 games all the way to 6 1⁄2 games over the second place Sox. Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy dubbed it the "Son of Massacre." The second game of the series, which the Yankees won 14–11, took four hours and 45 minutes to complete, making it the longest nine-inning game in Major League Baseball history. Months after the Yankees loss to the Tigers in the 2006 ALDS and manager Joe Torre's controversial decision to drop a struggling Alex Rodriguez to 8th in the lineup, Rodriguez in an interview with Sports Illustrated, claimed that he had preferred to go to the Red Sox before being traded to the Yankees. The incident would be one of contention between Torre and Rodriguez as noted in Torre's book, The Yankee Years.
During the third inning of a 2007 game at Fenway Park, Manny Ramírez, J. D. Drew, Mike Lowell, and Jason Varitek hit four consecutive home runs off Yankee pitcher Chase Wright, powering a comeback from a three-run deficit and completing a three-game sweep of the Yankees at Fenway Park for the first time since 1990. By May, after long speculation about what team he would play for after retirement, Roger Clemens chose to return to the Yankees as opposed to the Red Sox (where he started his career) or the Houston Astros (his hometown and last team he played for). Clemens helped the Yankees overcome a 14-game deficit in the standings to roar back to reach the playoffs again, however, this was not enough to win the division. On September 28, Boston won the AL East after a win against the Minnesota Twins and a loss by the Yankees against the Baltimore Orioles. This was the first AL East Championship for the Red Sox since 1995, ending the Yankees' nine-year reign in the division.
The Red Sox went on to sweep the Colorado Rockies in the World Series. Series MVP Mike Lowell remarks, upon receiving his trophy, that "the Red Sox are expected to win." Controversy erupted during the eighth inning of the final game when Alex Rodriguez's agent Scott Boras announced that Rodriguez had decided to opt out of his contract, in what was seen by many as an attempt by Boras to overshadow the series.
The off-season after the 2007 Series showed a war of words between management of both teams. Boston GM Theo Epstein called Yankee pitcher Mike Mussina a "bad apple" for complaining about the Yankees' 2004 trip to Japan as the Red Sox were gearing up for their own trip there. Epstein claimed that Mussina had used it as a crutch during the season. Mussina retorted back saying "Yea, we used it as a crutch to win the division!" Later that month, Hank Steinbrenner, who had taken a bigger role with the Yankees operation from his father George, responded in a feisty manner to the popularity of Red Sox Nation in The New York Times supplemental Play Magazine: "'Red Sox Nation?' What a bunch of (expletive) that is. That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans. Go anywhere in America and you won't see Red Sox hats and jackets, you'll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We're going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order." In response, Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry inducted Hank Steinbrenner into Red Sox Nation. Steinbrenner went on to praise Henry's handling of the Red Sox and said they would always be competitive under him.
In 2008, the Red Sox clinched a playoff berth and while the Yankees' streak of 13 consecutive postseason appearances dating back to 1995 ended.
In the 2008 off-season, first baseman Mark Teixeira signed an eight year, $180 million contract with the Yankees. Tony Massarotti of The Boston Globe summed up his feelings by calling it a "kick in the pants".
In August, the Yankees had 23 hits and the Red Sox had 12 in a 20–11 Yankees victory where the total runs scored (31) is the most runs collected by both teams in the history of their rivalry.
Both teams made the playoffs in 2009. During the ALDS, the Yankees defeated the Minnesota Twins to face the Angels who had knocked out the Red Sox at Fenway after being one strike away from losing Game 3, and rallying against Papelbon to take the division series in 3 games. The Yankees beat the Angels and went on defeat the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2009 World Series, 4–2, to earn their 27th World Series title and their first championship in their first year in the new Yankee Stadium. Former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martínez was the losing pitcher of record for the defending champions in the last game of the series.
2010–2012: Yankees fall short, Red Sox collapse
2010 saw the Yankees and the Red Sox start and finish the season against each other at Fenway Park, the first time since 1950 this happened. The Red Sox beat the Yankees in the first meeting of the two teams, the 30th time that the two teams played on Opening Day, improving to 11–18–1 against the Yankees whenever the two teams play each other on Opening Day.
In July, with the passing of Bob Sheppard, public address announcer for the Yankees, on July 11 at the age of 99, and principal owner and managing partner of the Yankees, George Steinbrenner, at the age of 80, both teams opened the second half at their respective stadiums with a moment of silence for Steinbrenner and Sheppard. The Red Sox, struggling to get out of third place, failed to make the playoffs for the second time in five years, but played spoiler during the final series of the season, knocking the Yankees out of first place in the American League East, relegating them to the wild-card for the 2010 season.
In 2011, the Red Sox went 12–6 against the Yankees, including beating Yankees ace CC Sabathia four times during the season and sweeping two three-game sets at Yankee Stadium, the only sets of three games of more where the Yankees have been swept at home since it opened in 2009. Critics and writers forecasted overwhelmingly that the Red Sox would win the 2011 World Series easily. The Red Sox spent a great deal to build the team in the off-season, and were about to sell at least two Red Sox as Most Valuable Player candidates by mid season. Following a disastrous first month, the Red Sox climbed in the standings. The Yankees claimed the AL East crown after the Red Sox's September struggles left them battling for the wild-card with the Rays, with whom they went into the season's final game tied. On September 28, the Tampa Bay Rays staged a dramatic comeback from 7–0 to win 8–7 over the Yankees in the 12th inning. Only three minutes earlier, Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon blew a 3–2 lead over the Orioles in the bottom of the 9th inning, handing a 4–3 walk-off victory to the Orioles. The Rays claimed the AL Wild Card and eliminated the Red Sox from the post-season. It marked the first time in baseball history that a 9-game lead had been blown in September, becoming the worst collapse in baseball history. Dan Shaughnessy of The Boston Globe said that "the greatest choke in baseball history...feels like revenge for 2004 and 2007." Yankee fans everywhere rejoiced, as it was a greater collapse than the 1978 Red Sox, as well as 2004.
During the series the final weekend of the season, Russell Martin of the Yankees said of the Red Sox about their collapse that "I hate the Red Sox" and that "anything to get the Red Sox out would be awesome for me."
In response to the historic September collapse by the Red Sox, they hired outspoken manager Bobby Valentine to take Francona's place. After his signing, Valentine immediately inserted himself into the rivalry when he said he hated the Yankees.
On the weekend series of April 20–22, 2012, the Red Sox celebrated the 100th anniversary of Fenway Park against the Yankees, who they played to open up the park. Both teams wore their 1912 uniforms on April 20, which the Yankees won 6-2. The Yankees came back from down, 9–0, to win, 15–9, the next day, the largest deficit they have ever overcame. They won the season series 13–5, their best record against the Red Sox since 2001, when they also went 13–5 against them, and swept the final three-game series of the season at Yankee Stadium to clinch the AL East while the Red Sox finished last in the division for the first time since 1992 with their worst record since 1965. Valentine was fired soon after. Later in 2012, the Yankees acquired 2004 ALCS Game 7 winner Derek Lowe. He was the latest member of the 2004 team to play for the Yankees after beating them in 2004.
After the 2012 season, Kevin Youkilis, who the Red Sox traded to the Chicago White Sox earlier in the season, signed with the Yankees as a free agent. He had previously clashed with Joba Chamberlain when he was with Boston.
2013-present: Yankees continue to fall short; Red Sox champions again
On Opening Day April 1, 2013 at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees and Red Sox honored the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, located in between New York and Boston. On April 16, 2013, the Yankees put aside their rivalry with the Red Sox and played the song "Sweet Caroline", a Fenway Park tradition, at the end of the third inning of their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks to honor the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings that took place one day earlier. On September 15, 2013, the Red Sox honored Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in his final game in Fenway Park, in which both the Red Sox fans and players gave Rivera a standing ovation when he entered the field. The Red Sox took the regular season series over the Yankees 13-6. The Red Sox finished the season with the best record in the American League and went on to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2013 World Series to capture their eighth World Series title, while the Yankees failed to make the playoffs.
On December 3, 2013, one month after winning the 2013 World Series, Boston outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and the Yankees agreed in principle to a seven-year $153 million deal, including an option for an eighth year that could increase the value of the contract to $169 million.
On April 10, 2014, Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda was believed to have been using pine tar in a Yankee-Red Sox game at Yankee Stadium. This was never brought to the umpires attention, therefore it was never tested and no actions were taken. On April 23, 2014, at a Yankee Red Sox game in Fenway Park, John Farrell noticed that Pineda was using pine tar again. Farrell walked to the home plate umpire and got Pineda ejected from the game in the 2nd inning.
On Tuesday, May 6, 2014, former Yankee Mariano Rivera debuted his new book, The Closer. In it, Rivera talks about both second baseman Robinson Cano, Rivera's former teammate, and the Red Sox captain Dustin Pedroia. Rivera created controversy when he stated Cano lacks hustle and heart despite his unending talent and that he would prefer to pick Pedroia on a team over Cano as a result.
After a 1–1 tie between aces Jon Lester and Yankees' rookie Masahiro Tanaka on June 27, 2014, Tanaka threw a fastball to Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli that Napoli hit for the go-ahead home run that won the game for the Red Sox. As Napoli returned to the dugout to his cheering teammates, he screamed out how Tanaka was an "idiot" for throwing him a fastball when his splitter was fooling him all night.
On July 31, 2014, the Yankees acquired Stephen Drew in exchange for Kelly Johnson in the first trade between the two teams since 1997. Both teams missed the playoffs in 2014, which is the first time in the wildcard era, and also since 1993.
Both teams played each other in the last series of the season in what would be Derek Jeter's final games as a player before retirement. In Jeter's final game at Yankee Stadium against the Red Sox of his career, the Yankees won with a 9th-inning game-tying homerun by Mark Teixeira, followed by a walk-off blast by Chase Headley. Jeter said he would not play shortstop for the last series of the season in Boston, but would still bat as a designated hitter out of respect for the rivalry. Boston honored Jeter with a pregame ceremony including Red Sox retired stars Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, Luis Tiant and Rico Petrocelli, the Boston Bruins' Bobby Orr, New England Patriots receiver Troy Brown and the Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce. In his last at bat as a professional player, Jeter grounded out, but drove in a run. Writer Peter Gammons who was in attendance at the game was also at Fenway during Ted Williams' final at bat where he hit a homerun 54 years prior to the day. Despite the rivalry, many Boston fans at Fenway Park loudly cheered for Jeter and gave him a standing ovation. The Yankees, though unable to reach the playoffs, finished in second place, while the Red Sox finished in last place, 25 games behind the first place Orioles.
To start the 2015 edition of the rivalry, the Red Sox team's first game at Yankee Stadium on Friday, April 10 went into extra innings ended up being one of the longest games ever played — at six hours and 49 minutes — going 19 innings, with the Yankees tying the game three times in the bottom of the 9th, 14th, and 16th, ending in a 6-5 victory for the Sox. During the first game of the first series at Fenway on May 1, Alex Rodriguez, coming of a suspension for PED use the year prior, hit his first ever career pinch hit homerun that would prove to be the winning run in the game and tie him with Willie Mays on the all-time homerun list. On May 3, the Yankees completed a weekend sweep of the Red Sox at Fenway.
Towards the end of the 2016 season in September, the Yankees headed to Fenway Park trailing the first place Red Sox by only four games. The Yankees "came to town with serious playoff aspirations but left Fenway Park beaten and broken." The Yankees ended up getting swept and blew late-inning leads in three of the four games, including giving up five runs in the ninth inning of the first game that ended with a Hanley Ramírez walk-off home run. The sweep, which all but ruined the playoff aspirations of a Yankee team that came into the series with considerable momentum, has been dubbed "Boston Massacre II" in reference to the 1978 four game sweep of the Red Sox by the Yankees at Fenway. The Red Sox clinched the AL East title on September 28 when the Toronto Blue Jays lost to the Baltimore Orioles that night only to lose their game to the Yankees minutes later when Mark Teixeira hit a walk-off grand slam.
On August 12, 2017, the Red Sox collected their 1,000th win against the Yankees. On September 6, 2017, The New York Times reported that the Red Sox had been using an Apple Watch to relay Yankee hand signs to Red Sox batters as they played. The use of electronic devices to communicate such information is in violation of baseball rules.
The Red Sox won the division by two games, forcing the Yankees into the Wild Card. This marked the first time both the Red Sox and Yankees made the playoffs since 2009. However, both teams lost in the postseason to the eventual World Series champion Houston Astros; the Red Sox in the ALDS in 4 games and the Yankees in the ALCS in 7 games.
The 2018 season will mark the first time since 1992 that both the Yankees and the Red Sox will be having new managers to start the season. Both teams parted ways with their managers after they were eliminated from the postseason; Yankees fired Joe Girardi and the Red Sox fired John Farrell. The Red Sox hired Alex Cora while the Yankees hired 2003 ALCS hero Aaron Boone to manage the team until 2021.
Using Facebook Like button data, Ben Blatt of the Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective found in 2012 that Red Sox fans are east of the New York State–Vermont/Massachusetts border, and Yankees fans are west. Blatt wrote, "I had thought that it was possible that Red Sox Nation might extend into northern New York or Yankee territory might extend into Vermont. This turned out not to be the case". Connecticut divides support between the two teams; he found that 56.6% of Facebook users in Hartford, often cited as being on the border between the two teams' fans, supported the Yankees. While Blatt found that identifying an exact border within the state was impossible, Guilford and Middletown are almost exactly divided, with 50.7% in each supporting the Yankees.
Violence over rivalry
There have been occasions that there have been arrests because of violence over the rivalry. In May 2008, a Yankees fan in Nashua, New Hampshire was arrested and charged with reckless second-degree murder for killing two people outside a bar, which resulted from an argument over the rivalry. Later in 2008, a man driving a car with New York license plates in Massachusetts was pulled from his car and savagely beaten because locals suspected the man of being a Yankees fan. During the final series of the 2010 season, Boston Police arrested a Yankees fan for stabbing a Red Sox fan over an argument about the rivalry. The rivalry became negative in 2013, following the Boston Bombing and the farewell season of Derek Jeter.
Rivalry outside of baseball
Don Mattingly had appeared in public service announcements airing on the Spike TV network advocating fathers to spend time with their children as part of the "True Dads" campaign to encourage men to take an active role in their children's lives. Mattingly jokes at the end of the commercial about the impatience of one of the characters in the commercial by calling him a Red Sox fan.
On April 13, 2008, rumors of a construction worker burying a Red Sox jersey in the concrete of the new Yankee Stadium were verified after anonymous tips led to the location of the jersey. The worker, identified as Gino Castignoli, had buried a David Ortiz jersey in what would become a service corridor in the hopes of cursing the new stadium. After extracting the jersey from underneath two feet of concrete, Yankees' President Randy Levine indicated that the shirt would be donated to the Jimmy Fund to be auctioned for the charity long associated with the Red Sox. Whatever curse was intended failed to bear fruit with the Yankees winning the World Series in their first year at the new stadium.
On October 23, 2007, former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who is a Yankee fan, said at a New Hampshire event for his presidential campaign that he was going to cheer for the Red Sox during their World Series appearance against the Colorado Rockies. Giuliani justified his support of the Red Sox by proclaiming he was a fan of American League baseball. The following day, the New York Post and New York Daily News printed doctored photos of Giuliani as a Red Sox fan on their covers with the headlines "RED COAT" and "TRAITOR!" respectively. Topps parodied this in a 2008 baseball card altered to depict Giuliani on the field with the Red Sox as the team celebrated their 2007 World Series championship.
A month later, he was asked about his support for the Red Sox by one of the questioners in a YouTube Republican Presidential Debate run by CNN. In response to the mayor's answer, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who was in office during the Red Sox 2004 win, claimed that all Americans are united in hatred of the Yankees.
Former New York City Public Advocate turned New York City Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio openly supported the Red Sox during his campaign. De Blasio won the general election by a huge margin in 2013.
In 2002, when the New England Patriots held their victory celebration after winning their first Super Bowl and the first championship for the city of Boston since the Celtics won the 1986 NBA Championship, linebacker Larry Izzo fired up the crowd, chanting "Yankees suck!" The chant would become a fixture of Patriots Super Bowl victory rallies following their victories in Super Bowls XXXVIII in 2004 and XXXIX in 2005, which were sandwiched around the Red Sox 2004 World Series win. Dan Shaughnessy wrote about the chant: "Can you imagine a Giants or a Jets celebration in New York City in which a New York player would take the time to chant, 'Red Sox suck?'" Shaughnessy opined that should such a thing occur, it would be more likely at a Jets celebration, as a Giants celebration, like those of the Mets and the Rangers, would be more likely to feature such chants made in reference to the Philadelphia teams, as one of the Giants' primary rivalries is with the Philadelphia Eagles.
The rivalry was played out during Super Bowl XLII in February 2008, as it was a showdown between football teams from each metropolitan area, the New York Giants and the New England Patriots. The Giants defeated the Patriots in what was considered one of the greatest upsets in Super Bowl history. After the game Giants fans chanted "18 and 1! 18 and 1!", reminiscent of the infamous "1918" chant, towards Patriots fans as they left the stadium. (Had they won the game, the Patriots would have become the first NFL team to ever finish with a 19–0 record; incidentally, New England had defeated the Giants in the last regular season game of that season to achieve the first perfect regular season since 1972.) Giants fans called this revenge for the Red Sox comeback in 2004. The Giants and Patriots faced off again in Super Bowl XLVI; with the Giants once again defeating the Patriots. Dan Shaughnessy's piece in The Boston Globe on the Giants victory over the Patriots was headlined, "History Repeats."
During the 2008 NBA Finals between the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers, movie director Spike Lee, a season ticket holder of the New York Knicks, wore a Yankee jersey and cap at Game 3 of the Finals in Los Angeles. Lee sat behind the Boston bench while loudly cheering for the Lakers, though he has a friendship with Ray Allen of the Celtics.
For the 2010 NHL Winter Classic outdoor ice hockey game held at Fenway Park, Boston Bruins then-backup goaltender Tuukka Rask had artwork on his "special event" goalie mask's upper front area depicting a roaring bear with a ripped New York Yankees home "pinstripe" jersey falling from its lower jaw.
In 2011, Miami Heat star LeBron James of the NBA worked a deal with Red Sox owner John Henry to take partial ownership of Henry's soccer subsidiary Liverpool Football Club of the Premier League. James was criticized in the New York media for spurning New York due to his being a purported Yankee fan.
Rivalries between other New York sports teams and other Boston sports teams have been attributed to the Yankees–Red Sox rivalry. For example, some have pointed out the connections between this rivalry and those of the New York Jets and the New England Patriots in the National Football League and the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics in the National Basketball Association.
Since the owners of the Yankees are involved with Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, owner of Manchester City F.C., the Major League Soccer team New York City FC, and the Red Sox being involved with Liverpool F.C., the 2014 International Champions Cup match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Yankee Stadium carried the classic angle of the Yankees and Red Sox rivalry. Liverpool defeated City in a penalty shoot-out.
Broadcasts on television
The nature of the rivalry has led to games between the two teams being broadcast on national television. Whenever the two teams play a weekend series, the Friday game is broadcast on MLB Network, the Saturday game is broadcast on either Fox or Fox Sports 1, while the Sunday game is broadcast on either TBS in the afternoon or ESPN as part of Sunday Night Baseball; the New England Sports Network in the Boston market and the YES Network in the New York City market always carry games not assigned on either FOX, FS1 (unless specified), or on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball. Whenever they play games during the week, there are games broadcast on MLB Network, FS1, and ESPN.
When the games are broadcast on Fox, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver call the game and, thus the duo has called many significant moments in the rivalry. In 2004, the first game of the season between the two teams, on April 16, a Friday night, was nationally broadcast on Fox, because it marked the first time the two teams were facing each other since the memorable 2003 ALCS. Fox Sports President Ed Goren said of decision to have the game broadcast on Fox: "If were up to me, we'd take the whole series and come back a week later and carry all their games at Yankee Stadium...We started thinking about this at some point after the Yankees closed the deal with A-Rod. ... This is sort of a relaunch of the season in the middle of April. This is going to be an event." MLB Commissioner Bud Selig called the broadcast "an extension of the postseason brought into April." This was the first broadcast of a regular season game in prime-time since Mark McGwire hit his 62nd home run to break Roger Maris' record in 1998. In October, when the two teams met in the ALCS, Selig moved Game 5 of the series to primetime due to the rematch.
The broadcasts of the games between the rivals have led to an increase in television ratings. These games have had at least 50% higher ratings than all of the other games broadcast, sometimes almost twice as high than locally broadcast games. In most cases, the most-watched MLB game on any network during a season is a game between the Yankees and the Red Sox.
Since 2003, ratings for Yankees–Red Sox games on Fox have averaged 2.6 percent of homes–44 percent better than other weeks, while ESPN has averaged 3.96 million viewers for Yankees–Red Sox games on Sunday nights, compared to the average of 2.18 million for all other games. Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS drew a 17.1 rating, the highest for a League Championship Series game since Game 6 of the 1993 National League Championship Series.
In 2004, the first game between the two teams drew a 3.6 national rating, and with an average audience of 5.3 million, it was the most-watched regular-season telecast since Mark McGwire's record-breaking home run game. In 2003, Saturday games on Fox averaged a 2.5 rating; prime-time entertainment got a 3.3, but Goren said that he expected the game "will perform much higher than those (prime-time) figures" as a reason to have the game broadcast nationally.
In 2011, the three-game series between the two teams on the weekend of August 5–7 drew large television viewers. The Friday game (August 5) on MLB Network drew 563,000 viewers, making it the most-watched game on the network during the 2011 season and the second-most watched game on the network, behind Stephen Strasburg's debut. In New York and Boston, it was blacked out because the YES Network had local rights in New York City and NESN in Boston. The Saturday game on Fox was most-watched non-primetime regular season MLB telecast on the network in more than three years with 4.10 million viewers. The last Fox non-primetime telecast to record higher numbers also was Boston vs. New York on July 5, 2008. The Sunday game on ESPN drew 4.72 million viewers, making it the most-watched baseball game on ESPN since June 3, 2007, when both teams faced each other, and the most-watched MLB broadcast of the 2011 season on any network.
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