Saturday, June 29, 2019

Yankees Win Barmy Game In London Opener

Today, the 1st regular-season Major League Baseball game in Europe was played, between the 2 biggest rivals in the sport, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, at the London Stadium, the main venue for the 2012 Olympic Games, and now the home of East London soccer team West Ham United.

Britain's royal family was represented by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, a.k.a. Prince Harry, former British Army helicopter pilot and fan of many things American; and Meghan Markle, a former actress who is one of the American things of which he's a fan. They visited each team in their locker rooms, and both teams gave them a baby-onesie version of their uniforms, with the Number 19 (for the year) and the name Archie on the back for their newborn son.

An all-black choir wearing Caribbean style outfits saying "The Star Spangled Banner" and "God Save the Queen," and Harry and Meghan looked on as a group kids representing baseball in Britain threw out ceremonial first balls.

The Red Sox are the official home team for both of these games, having graciously given up 2 Fenway Park home games against the Yankees for the greater good of the sport. But both teams are wearing their home uniforms. The British authorities setting the game up knew that the Yankee Pinstripes are every bit as iconic as the Arsenal cannon or the Liverpool "Liverbird."

Never let it be said that the people who paid to attend did not get their money's worth. But this was a Yankees-Red Sox game, so something unusual (aside from the location, that is) was bound to happen. But I don't think anybody expected this kind of slugfest. The game was crazy -- or, as they say in Britain, "barmy."

The teams packed an entire game's worth of big moments into the 1st inning. The Yankees knocked Sox starter Rick Porcello out of the box with the following: A single by DJ LeMahieu, a fly out by Aaron Judge, a walk by Gary Sanchez, an RBI double by Luke Voit, a 2-RBI double by Didi Geegorius, an RBI double by Edwin Encarnacion, and a home run by Aaron Hicks.

Six to nothing. As they say in England, Yankee Fans were taking the piss.

Then came the bottom of the 1st. Masahiro Tanaka had nothing. He allowed single, RBI double, walk, walk, popup, RBI sacrifice fly, RBI single, 3-run homer by Michael Chavis.

Tie ballgame. As they say in English soccer, Six-nil and we fucked it up! Somebody said it was the 1st major league game in 30 years in which both starting pitchers were knocked out in the 1st inning without being injured.

In that great ballpark in the sky, Phil Rizzuto must have been saying, "Holy cow, what's coming off here?" Every American with a social media account was telling his British followers that this was incredibly unusual, not an everyday occurrence.

Chad Green, who was supposed to be tomorrow's starting pitcher for the Yankees, got out of the inning. Both teams threatened again in the 2nd, but neither scored. With 2 outs in the top of the 3rd, Gleyber Torres singled, and Brett Gardner hit a home run. 8-6 New York.

The top of the 4th turned out to be the decisive inning. Voit led off with a double. Gregorius drew a walk. The Sox got Encarnacion and Hicks out. But Torres singled to load the bases. Gardner drew a walk to force a run home. And LeMahieu cleared the bases with a double into the left field corner. And then, here came Da Judge, and there went da ball, deep to right field. 14-6 New York.

I should note that, of the 6 home runs hit in this game, none was to that too-close (385 feet) center field fence. They would all have been out of either Yankee Stadium II or Fenway Park, or pretty much any other MLB stadium's field.

Voit doubled again in the 5th, but seemed to injure himself rounding 1st. If it's an oblique injury like Judge had for much of the season, he could be out for a while, which would be a bit of a problem. Gio Urshela ran for him. Gregorius singled him home. After Encarnacion struck out, Hicks singled, Torres walked, Gardner struck out, and LeMahieu struck again, singling home 2 runs.

It was now 17-6 Yankees. Thus far, the Yankees' linescore read 60263. I looked it up: That ZIP Code is not currently in use. If it were, it would be in Evanston, Illinois, in Chicago's northern suburbs.

There was a takeoff on the Washington Nationals' "Racing Presidents." No, not racing Prime Ministers, like they have at Ottawa Senators hockey games, although one of the characters was Winston Churchill. No, not racing monarchs, although one of the characters was King Henry VIII.

This did not look promising: Both Sir Winston and King Henry went from being strong, athletic young men, distinguished in battle, to being fat old men known for their excesses (Henry for eating and mistresses, Winston for drinking).

There was a Loch Ness Monster. So far, the geography worked for the United Kingdom: Churchill represented England, "Nessie" represented Scotland, and Henry VIII was from the House of Tudor, which originated in Wales. But there was no Northern Ireland equivalent. It's just as well: Who would they use, George Best? He, at least, was an athlete -- I've compared him to Mickey Mantle, in ways both favorable and not, including the wearing of the Number 7 -- but he drank more than Churchill did.

The 4th racer was a big foam-headed version of Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury, and he won the race. It makes sense: Queen went high on the U.S. music charts in October 1977, when the Yankees were winning the World Series, with one of the last double-sided hit records: "We Will Rock You" (which Freddie said he wanted to sound like a sports anthem) and "We Are the Champions."

The Loch Ness Monster finished last. He was so far back, it was like he didn't even exist.

Jackie Bradley Jr. homered for the Sox in the 6th, but it looked like small consolation. The 7th inning stretch was held, and everyone sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," as if they'd been singing it their whole lives. (Surely, many of them were Americans, and had.)

Nelson Cortes Jr. got the 1st 2 outs in the bottom of the 7th, but then the Sox struck back: Single, single, another homer by Chavis, single. 17-10. Aaron Boone, having already used Tanaka, Green, David Hale and Cortes, now brought Tommy Kahnle in. Result: Walk, wild pitch, single, bases-loaded walk. 17-12. Boone brought Adam Ottavino in: Double. 17-13. Finally, the last out was obtained.

The Yankees went down 1-2-3 in the 8th, having previously done so only in the 6th. And Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline" rang out over the speakers, as it does at that point in Red Sox home games. It was still a 4-run Yankee lead, but now The Scum had all the momentum. Ottavino allowed 2 runners in the inning, but got out of it.

The Yankees wasted an Urshela double in the top of the 9th. They needed 3 outs, allowing 3 or fewer runs. It sounded simple enough, but this is Yankees vs. Red Sox, where nothing is simple. Boone didn't fool around: He brought in the closer, Aroldis Chapman. He got former Yankee Eduardo Nunez to ground out.

But D.J. Martinez got a hit. Sam Travis was up. The tying run was still 2 more batters away, but in the backs of our minds, there was the thought that the Yankees might score 17 runs against their arch-enemies, and it might not be enough.

Travis hit a shot up the middle. Gregorius snared it, and barehanded the ball to Torres covering 2nd. Torres threw over to LeMahieu, now playing 1st base. Double play.


Ballgame over! Yankees win! Theeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Yankees win!

Fireworks were set off, and Frank Sinatra's recording of "Theme From New York, New York" was played, as if we were at Yankee Stadium.

Final score: Yankees 17, Red Sox 13. Specifically: For the Yankees, 17 runs on 19 hits and no errors, and a whopping 20 men left on base. For the Red Sox, 13 runs on 18 hits, they also played errorless baseball (incredibly, this wild game had no errors in it), and they also left 20 men on.

The winning pitcher: Chad Green, 2-2. Aroldis Chapman entered with a 4-run lead, so he was not credited with a save. The losing pitcher: Steven Wright, 0-1, as he was the pitcher whose knuckleball to Gardner was turned into a home run, making a 6-6 tie an 8-6 Yankee lead.

If this were a soccer game, a "Man of the Match" would have been selected. My choice for MOTM: DJ LeMahieu, 4-for-6, with 5 RBIs. Luke Voit also had 4 hits before he had to leave. Didi Gregorius and Brett Gardner each had 3 RBIs.

The attendance was 59,659. And the time of the game, a highly unmanageable, but very entertaining, 4 hours and 42 minutes.

And tomorrow, at 3:10 PM London time -- 10:10 AM New York and Boston time -- they get to do it all over again.

Concern for the Red Sox: Pitching. They used 8 pitchers, and their bullpen, their big weakness all season, is going to be exhausted.

Concerns for the Yankees: Also pitching, as they also used 8 pitchers, including Green, whom they intended as the starter for the 2nd game. And Voit, as they don't yet know how long he's going to be out injured.

Think about this: Take out that incredible 1st inning, and it still would have been a slugfest: 11-7 Yankees.

With the win, the Yankees are now 10 games ahead of the Red Sox in the American League Eastern Division, 11 in the loss column. The Tampa Bay Rays won, so they remain 7 games, 8 in the loss column, behind the Yankees.

It was perfect baseball weather by our standards, but hot by London standards. The weather is expected to be the same tomorrow, so the infamous British Isles rain won't be a factor. Boone has already announced that the Yankee starter will be Stephen Tarpley, who did not pitch today. Eduardo Rodriguez is scheduled to be the Red Sox starter.

Let's do it again -- the win, that is, not necessary the method thereof. Come on you Pinstripes! Beat The Scum!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Basics for the MLB London Series

Saturday, 1:00 PM New York time, on Fox. Actually, first pitch is set for 1:10, but they need a few minutes for a preview. That's 6:10 PM, London time. Announcers: Joe Buck and John Smoltz.

Sunday, 10:00 AM New York time, on ESPN. Announcers: Matt Vasgersian, Jessica Mendoza, and "Yankee Legend" Alex Rodriguez.

The games will be played at the London Stadium, the main venue for the 2012 Olympics, and now the home of East End soccer team West Ham United. (I know, it confused me at first, too, but West Ham is part of East London.)

Not Wembley, the Home of Football. Not Twickenham, the Home of Rugby. And certainly not Wimbledon, the Home of Tennis.

You'd think it would be Lord's, the Home of Cricket, which has enough space. But it only seats 28,000. Add the capacity of the other major cricket venue in the London area, 25,500, and it still wouldn't be enough.

But the London Stadium has the capacity, 60,000 seats, and almost enough space. Center field will be a little short, about 385 feet from home plate, so there will be a higher fence there, about 17 feet. The foul poles will be a reasonable 330 feet.

Unfortunately, the games will be on artificial turf. But the Red Sox will be the official home team, so that's 2 fewer games we have to play at Fenway Park this season. Despite being the visiting team, the Yankees will wear their home Pinstriped uniforms.

Each team has been allowed to bring 28 players, with 26 being eligible, 1 more than usual, in case of emergency. Hey, you never know: A player could get jet-lagged, or, if they stay at the Canary Wharf Marriott, food poisoning. (Oh shit, he went there!) Damn right I did. I'm not only a Yankee Fan, but an Arsenal fan.

The Yankees have brought Reggie Jackson, Hideki Matsui, Andy Pettitte, Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher on the trip. I can't find a list of "honored" guests for the Red Sox.

Somebody asked if Neville Chamberlain was going to throw out the ceremonial first ball. I said no, because Bud Selig has already appeased the Red Sox for many years. Prince Harry will be on hand, as the member of the royal family who has spent the most time in America, and I suspect he will throw out the first ball.

Major League Baseball is so confident, they're doing it again next year. Same venue. On June 13 and 14, 2020, it will be 1 of the 2 big National league rivalries, the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals. I was sure they were going to select the other big NL rivalry: The Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants. Maybe that will be for 2021.

Yankees vs. Red Sox: The Defining Moments, Part V: 2005-2019

April 5, 2005, Yankee Stadium. After he hit the home run that won Game 4 of the 2001 World Series, Jeter said he'd never hit a walkoff homer before, not even in Little League. He does it again in this game, off Keith Foulke. Yankees 4, Red Sox 3. The Yankees could have used one of these homers on October 17 or 18, 2004.

April 8, 2005, Hollywood, Los Angeles, California: The film Fever Pitch premieres, starring Jimmy Fallon and Drew Barrymore. It tells the story about a man in love with a woman and a baseball team, and what happens when the 2 loves come into conflict.

It was based on the 1992 memoir of the same title by Nick Hornby, then an English teacher in London, and a fan of North London soccer team Arsenal. He told of following the team from the fall of 1968, when he was 11 years old, until just before publication, including the 1971 "Double" season (meaning that they won the Football League Division One and the Football Association Cup in the same season) and the next League title, which wasn't until 1989 -- 18 years.

It had previously been made into a film in the United Kingdom, premiering in 1997, starring Colin Firth and Ruth Gemmell. This version, with Hornby writing the screenplay, followed a fictionalized version of Hornby during the epic 1988-89 season, with flashbacks to his youth in 1968 and 1972.

The United States version was adapted by Providence, Rhode Island-based filmmakers Peter & Bobby Farrelly, fans of New England's sports teams, including the Red Sox. They cast Fallon, then a former star of NBC's Saturday Night Live, and not yet the host of a late-night talk show, now hosting The Tonight Show. Ironically, in real life, Fallon is a Yankee Fan, so this film proves that he really can act.

This version of the film follows the Red Sox in their own epic season, of 2004. Unlike the makers of the U.K. version, the Farrelly Brothers did not know how the season was going to turn out. So, having already got permission from the MLB officers to film at Fenway and use game footage, they asked one more favor, and got the right to set up cameras at Busch Memorial Stadium when the Sox finished the job on October 27, 2004, and put Jimmy and Drew on the field, in character, celebrating.

Most Yankee Fans hate the film, for obvious reasons: It glorifies the Sox, and shows the Yankees losing and the alleged curse ending. Most Sox fans hate it, too, because, as Jimmy said of his group's trip to Spring Training, captured on ESPN and seen by Drew's character and her parents, "We looked like morons!"

Me? I think it's a good movie, but the ending makes it a horror movie.

April 14, 2005, Fenway Park. Yankee right fielder Gary Sheffield's cap is knocked off by a Red Sox fan while trying to pick up a fair ball in right field. In response, Sheffield pushes the fan. The conflict is quickly stopped by security guards. The fan is ejected from the game for interfering with play, and is eventually stripped of his season tickets. Red Sox 8, Yankees 5. Still, the Sox fans once again prove that they, not the Yankees or their fans, are the evil ones.
January 3, 2006, Yankee Stadium. Center fielder Johnny Damon, one of the heroes of the Sox' revival, the man who named them "The Idiots," signs as a free agent with the Yankees. Gone are the long hair and the beard. Yankee Fans welcome him. Sox fans call him a traitor.
August 18, 19, 20 & 21, 2006, Fenway Park. The Yankees complete a 5-game sweep at the little green pinball machine off Kenmore Square. The scores are 12-4, 14-11, 13-5, 8-5 and 2-1. The Yankees won a tight pitching duel, a pair of slugfests, and 2 blowouts. They have moved from 1 1/2 games ahead of the Sox to 6 1/2 games ahead, effectively killing the Division race with 6 weeks to go.

I was in Boston on the 20th, for the 4th game, although my chances of getting into Fenway were slim and none, and I had to watch from elsewhere in Scum Town. Then again, I'd rather have watched from outside Fenway and won than watched from inside and lost.

You should have heard Sox fans, not to mention the WEEI radio hosts, talk: They were in a daze, acting as though what happened in October 2004 had never happened. (And, based on what we now know, it really didn't.)

April 22, 2007, Fenway Park. Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek hit 4 consecutive home runs off Yankee pitcher Chase Wright, powering a comeback from a 3-run deficit and completing a 3-game sweep of the Yankees at Fenway Park for the first time since 1990. Red Sox 7, Yankees 6.

While the Yankees do get the Wild Card in this season, they never recover enough from this beating to take the Division title. The Sox win the World Series again, although this can also been deemed illegitimate. Of the players who hit the 4 straight homers, Manny is later proven a steroid user, and the other 3 have also been suspected.

Joe Torre is lowballed on a new contract offer, and leaves the Yankees. Former catcher Joe Girardi is named manager. Meanwhile, the Sox go on to win the World Series again.

December 13, 2007, Office of DLA Piper, Washington, D.C.: The Mitchell Report is issued. Former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, Democrat of Maine, was charged with finding out just how far baseball players had gone with the use of performance-enhancing drugs, including those that fall under the term "steroids."

He based his report mainly on the testimony of 2 men whose credibility was highly questionable: Brian McNamee, a personal trainer who had worked for Yankees Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and Chuck Knoblauch, and who had previously worked with Clemens as the strength & conditioning coach with the Toronto Blue Jays; and Kirk Radomski, a former clubhouse employee of the Mets.

Among the players Mitchell said had used PEDs were Clemens, Pettitte and Knoblauch. And it was already known that Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield were steroid users, although neither of those two ever managed to help the Yankees win a World Series.

Interestingly, no players from the 2004 Red Sox were named, and only 2 players from the 2007 Red Sox were, and they were hardly crucial to the World Series win: Eric Gagne, the reliever whose streak of 84 consecutive saves with the Los Angeles Dodgers electrified fans from 2002 to 2004; and Brendan Donnelly, also a reliever, who had been a rookie on the 2002 World Champion Anaheim Angels. (I have previously said, on more than one occasion, that the '02 Angels were clean as far as I knew. I had forgotten about Donnelly.)

The Report did not name either David Ortiz or Manny Ramirez, who would later be revealed to have failed steroid tests. Nor Bronson Arroyo, who would later confess to PED use. Nor Curt Schilling, nor Trot Nixon, nor Kevin Millar, nor Bill Mueller, nor Mark Bellhorn, nor Kevin Youkilis, all of whom have been suspected.

Mitchell is a lifelong Red Sox fan, and was, at that time, a member of the team's board of directors. Until that point, only crazy conservative pundits questioned his integrity. But this was a massive conflict of interest: Yes, the research should have been done; yes, a report should have been issued; no, he should not have been the one to do it.

At any rate, the Yankees became the face of "cheating" in baseball, while the Red Sox got off scot free. The Red Sox were "America's Team," and the Yankees were the "Evil Empire."

The truth would come out.

February 29, 2008, Legends Field, Tampa, Florida. At the spring-training complex soon to be renamed for his father, Yankee senior vice president Hank Steinbrenner responds to the popularity of the Sox in The New York Times newspaper's Play magazine:

"Red Sox Nation?" What a bunch of bullshit 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.

Not "restore order to the universe." "Restore the universe to order." It will take 2 more seasons.

July 15, 2008, Yankee Stadium. The House That Ruth Built hosts the All-Star Game in its last season. Jeter and A-Rod are elected starters, and get huge ovations. Manny, David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia are also elected starters, and get the hell booed out of them. (Ortiz was injured and could not play.)

Sox reliever Jonathan Papelbon, having closed out the previous year's World Series against the Colorado Rockies, tells the media that he should close out the game, not Mariano Rivera of the Yankees. In Rivera's ballpark.

Despite having his own manager, Terry Francona, managing the AL team (the managers of the previous season's Pennant winners are always the opposing managers), Papelbon is inserted in the game in the 8th inning, and he blows a 2-2 tie to give the National League the lead. And the Yankee Fans let him hear it.

But the AL ties it in the bottom of the 8th. Rivera is called on to get the last out in the top of the 9th, and gets the biggest ovation of his career so far. He gets the last out, and pitches the 10th as well, getting into trouble, but getting out of it. The AL wins the game in the 15th, and the only one on the AL team who doesn't feel like celebrating is Papelbon.

August 28, 2008, Yankee Stadium. The teams meet at the old Bronx ballyard for the last time. Jason Giambi hits a bases-loaded single off Papelbon in the bottom of the 9th to win it for the Yankees, 3-2.

On September 21, the Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 7-3 in the final scheduled game at the old Yankee Stadium, thus keeping them mathematically alive in the Playoff race. The next day, the Sox clinch the Division, and the Yankees don't get the Wild Card, either.

September 28, 2008, Fenway Park. The teams close the regular season with a rain-forced doubleheader against each other. The Yankees win the 1st game, 6-2. The Red Sox win the 2nd game, 4-3, on a walkoff single by Jonathan Van Every off Jose Veras. The Sox get as far as Game 7 of the ALCS, before losing to the Tampa Bay Rays.

May 4, 2009, Yankee Stadium II, Bronx. The teams meet at the new Yankee Stadium for the 1st time. Boston wins, 6-4.

July 30, 2009, Fenway Park. Exactly 10 years to the day after the 13-3 demolition I saw at Fenway, it is revealed that both David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez failed steroid tests in the 2003 season.

With Papi and Manny the 2 biggest reasons the Sox won the 2004 and 2007 World Series, those titles are now revealed to be completely illegitimate. The Curse of the Bambino still lives. 1918 * Forever.

Meanwhile, Pettitte's excuse was that he did it only briefly to come back from an injury in 2002, a year in which the Yankees did not win the Pennant. And Clemens remains the only player ever to go to court over it and beat the rap. Brian McNamee's evidence did not hold up. "Presumed innocent until proven guilty."

Did Clemens actually do it? "Of course he did," you might say, "everybody knows that." No. Not everybody knows that. Indeed, the only person who knows for sure is Clemens himself -- if he's innocent. If he's guilty, then the only other person who knows is McNamee, who can't prove it.

But the idea that the Yankees were dirty is impossible to prove; while the idea that the Red Sox were clean has already been proven a lie.

August 7, 2009, Yankee Stadium II. A-Rod ends a 0-0 standstill after 15 innings with a 2-run home run off Junichi Tazawa, who is making his major league debut. Two days later, Damon and Mark Teixeira hit back-to-back homers to give the Yanks a come-from-behind 3-2 win and a sweep.

September 27, 2009, Yankee Stadium II. Yankees 4, Red Sox 2. The Yankees complete a 3-game sweep of the Red Sox with a 4-2 victory, clinching their 1st AL East title since 2006. The Yankees came back to tie the season series against the Red Sox 9-9, after starting with an 0-8 record against them, and go on to win their 27th World Championship -- slaying their own dragons (real, imagined, or steroid-induced), and in Hank's words, restoring the universe to order.

May 17, 2010, Yankee Stadium II. Marcus Thames breaks a bottom of the 9th slugfest deadlock with a walkoff homer off Papelbon. Yankees 11, Red Sox 9.

September 28, 2011, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, Maryland. As late as September 1, a date on which they completed a 2-out-of-3 series win over the Yankees, the Sox were in 1st place in the AL East. But they went into a tailspin, the Yankees took advantage, and, on this date, the Sox lose to the Baltimore Orioles, 4-3, while the Yankees lose to the Rays. As a result, with the Yankees having already clinched the AL East, the Sox blow the Wild Card to the Rays.

Manager Terry Francona and general manager Theo Epstein will soon be fired. Once again, it is the Yankees who are regarded as champions, and the Red Sox who are regarded as chokers. As God intended it.

April 20, 2012, Fenway Park. The Sox celebrate the ballpark's 100th Anniversary -- the 1st Major League Baseball stadium to reach a Centennial -- by playing on the exact anniversary, and playing the exact same opponent. But they don't get the same result, as the Yankees hit 5 home runs: 2 by Eric Chavez, and 1 each by Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, and 1 by Alex Rodriguez. Yankees 6, Red Sox 2.

Every time A-Rod comes to the plate, the Sox fans chant, "Steroids!" -- while cheering known steroid cheat David Ortiz.

April 21, 2012, Fenway Park. The Yankees come from 9-0 down to beat the Sox 15-9, including 7 runs in the 7th inning and 7 more in the 8th. Swisher homers again, and Teixeira hits home runs from each side of the plate. The next day, the series finale was rained out, and postponed until July, but the Yankees ended up winning it then anyway.

July 7, 2012, Fenway Park. The Sox lead 5-3. Boone Logan comes in to relieve Phil Hughes with 1 out in the 6th, man on 2nd. Flyout, back-to-back walks, strikeout. End of that threat. But Girardi should have realized that, having already walked 2 batters, Logan shouldn't be kept in the game.

He leaves Logan in to start the 7th, and he allows a double. Girardi brings in Cory Wade, who turns that leadoff double (totally Logan's fault) into 4 runs (all of them partly Logan's fault). The Sox lead 9-4 instead of 5-4. The Yanks manage to make it 9-5, meaning if Logan doesn't allow that double, it's no worse than 5-5.

And this is against The Scum. Granted, the Sox were awful in 2012, but you still want to beat them, and the Yanks were still in a Division title race. This was Game 21 in Logan's Litany of Losing.

However, having Bobby Valentine as manager turns out to be a disaster for the Sox, as they go 69-93, their worst season since 1965. The Yankees win the Division, but the postseason turns out to be a disaster.

May 31, 2013, Yankee Stadium II. The teams play each other for the 1st time since the bombing at the Boston Marathon on April 15. "Boston Strong" signs are everywhere, and, for once, the fans of the 2 legendary rivals are united. (Despite the banner of solidarity at Fenway, there were no games between them in 2001 after September 11.) Behind the pitching of CC Sabathia and an RBI double by Vernon Wells, the Yankees win, 4-1.

August 5, 2013, Commissioner's Office, Rockefeller Center, New York. Alex Rodriguez is suspended for the rest of the 2013 season, and all of the 2014 season, for steroid use. They don't have a failed test on him.

David Ortiz, who did once fail a test, is permitted to continue playing.

September 6, 2013, Yankee Stadium II. The Yankees host the Sox, and lead 8-3. Andy Pettitte has pitched 6 strong innings. But Girardi brings the struggling Phil Hughes in to pitch the 7th. He gets 1 out, but allows 3 singles and a walk, making it 8-4. Girardi brings Logan in to face Ortiz with the bases loaded and 1 out. Cringe time... Logan strikes Ortiz out! All right, now get him out of there!

No, Girardi leaves him in to face Mike Napoli with the bases loaded and 1 out. Logan feeds the gopher, and Napoli hits a game-tying grand slam. Girardi still leaves him in, to face Daniel Nava.  Nava singles, and, finally, Girardi takes him out, and Preston Claiborne gets Stephen Drew out to end the inning. Claiborne and Joba Chamberlain finish the disaster in the 8th, and the Sox win, 12-8.

By this point, even Girardi had learned that Logan could not be trusted with pitching in the major leagues. Only once more did he put Logan in a game, and that was on September 24, in a game that an exhausted Hiroki Kuroda had already let get away. It was in a 7-0 loss to the Rays, and Logan faced 1 batter, Sam Fuld, and struck him out. But the September 6, 2013 game was the 34th game that Logan blew, or helped to blow, in his 4 seasons in Pinstripes. Exit permanently, stage lefty.

The Yankees went 85-77, a decent season by most teams' standards, but missing the Playoffs, finishing tied for 3rd in the AL East, 12 games behind the Division-winning Red Sox, and 7 games behind the 2nd Wild Card team, the Rays.

The Sox went on to win another World Series, beating the St. Louis Cardinals in 6 games. David Ortiz, who shouldn't even be allowed to play professional baseball after being outed as a steroid cheat and a liar, and still lying about it, was named Series MVP.

September 4, 2014, Yankee Stadium II. Chase Headley hits a home run off Koji Uehara in the bottom of the 9th, giving the Yankees a 5-4 win.

September 28, 2014, Fenway Park. At the same ballpark where Mickey Mantle played his last game, 46 years earlier to the day, Derek Jeter plays his last game. The Red Sox present him with gifts.
Jim Rice, Mookie Betts, David Ortiz, Derek Jeter and Carl Yastrzemski

In the top of the 3rd inning, he singles home Ichiro Suzuki against Clay Buchholz, part of a 4-run inning. Brian McCann -- a slow catcher, so this Girardi move makes no sense -- is sent in to pinch-run for him, and the New England fans give him a standing ovation. The Yankees go on to win, 9-5.

September 28, 2016, Yankee Stadium II. Teixeira hits a walkoff grand slam, the 409th and last home run of his career, off Joe Kelly to give the Yankees a 5-3 win over the Red Sox.

As of April 25, 2017, the Yankees have hit 225 walkoff home runs in their history, counting the postseason. 29 of these, including the postseason walkoffs by Bernie Williams in 1999 and Aaron Boone in 2003, have been against the Red Sox.

September 29, 2016, Yankee Stadium II. For the final time, David Ortiz, the biggest Yankee Killer ever, plays against the Yankees. CC Sabathia strikes him out in the 2nd inning, then walks him in the 4th. As with Jeter in his farewell, he is removed for a pinch-runner, in his case Brock Holt. The Yankee Fans give him a standing ovation. Thanks in part to an RBI double by Jacoby Ellsbury, one of the heroes of the Sox' 2013 title who then signed with the Yankees, the Yankees win 9-5.

April 26, 2017, Fenway Park. On his 25th birthday, Aaron Judge hits a home run against the Red Sox. He becomes the 6th Yankee to hit a homer against the Sox on his birthday. The Yankees win, 3-1.

August 13, 2017, Yankee Stadium II. This was a season in a nutshell. The Yankees got good pitching from Jordan Montgomery, David Robertson and Dellin Betances, and led 2-1 going into the top of the 9th inning.

But Aroldis Chapman gave up a game-tying home run to Rafael Devers, and was left in for the 10th inning, hitting Jackie Bradley with a pitch, and giving up a walk to former Yankee error machine Eduardo Nunez. Girardi brought Tommy Kahnle in, and he walked Mookie Betts to load the bases, and gave up a single to Andrew Benintendi to lose it.

The Red Sox win, 3-2, and end up winning the AL East by 2 games. Oddly, the Yankees not only snuck into the Wild Card Game, but won it, and won their ALDS, while the Sox lost theirs to the Houston Astros, only for the Yankees to stop hitting in Games 6 and 7 of the ALCS, and lose the Pennant to the Astros by 1 game. Who knows if winning the Division would have made a difference?

Girardi's contract ran out, and the Yankees did not seek a new one. The new manager was rivalry hero Aaron Boone.

October 8, 2018, Yankee Stadium II. Game 3 of the ALDS is the worst loss in Yankee postseason history, 16-1, including 7 Boston runs in the 4th inning, shelling Luis Severino. Nathan Eovaldi, whom general manager Brian Cashman released due to long-term injury, getting nothing for him, was the winning pitcher for the Red Sox.

October 9, 2018, Yankee Stadium II. Through a stroke of luck, this became the 1st live postseason sporting event I ever saw. I would have been better off missing it.

As with another win-or-go-home game, Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS, Bucky Dent was invited to throw out the ceremonial first ball. As on that earlier occasion, no effect. The Sox tagged Sabathia for 3 runs in the 3rd inning, and a Christian Vazquez home run in the 4th made the difference. The last out was much-hyped rookie Gleyber Torres, Cashman's golden prospect, grounding out on a play that had to be reviewed, but the replay showed that he was out. Red Sox 4, Yankees 3.

They had already clinched the Division at our place, and now they clinched this series at our place as well. They went on to win a World Series without David Ortiz for the 1st time in 100 years.

Since 2000, the count is now Red Sox 4, Yankees 1. That is unacceptable.

June 29 and 30, 2019, London Stadium. The rivalry goes international. BEAT THE SCUM!

Yankees vs. Red Sox: The Defining Moments, Part IV: 1983-2004

July 4, 1983, Yankee Stadium. Both teams have changed tremendously in 5 years. The rivalry has fallen a bit. Despite the opponent and the 4th of July holiday, only 41,077 fans come out to The Stadium. Why? Well, it is the 4th of July, and it's really hot, so it's a beach day, not a baseball day. And neither team is really in the race.

This game would be totally forgotten by anyone who wasn't there... if it wasn't for Dave Righetti pitching a no-hitter. He even managed to strike out the tough-to-fan Wade Boggs for the final out. Yankees 4, Red Sox 0.
October 5, 1986, Fenway Park. The Yankees beat the Red Sox, 7-0, and complete a 4-game sweep. However, this not-quite Boston Massacre -- this was the only real blowout of the series -- is meaningless, as the Sox had already clinched the American League Eastern Division title a weak earlier.

This was because the Sox had great starting pitching: Roger Clemens, Bruce Hurst, Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd, and even the final, somewhat hard-luck season of Tom Seaver. In contrast, the Yanks' rotation was weak: While Dennis Rasmussen went 18-6, no other Yankee pitcher, starter or reliever, won in double figures. Ron Guidry had an uncharacteristic 9-12 after winning 22 the year before, and Doug Drabek, Bob Tewksbury and 41-year-old knuckleballer Joe Niekro (whose brother Phil had pitched for the Yanks the preceding 2 years) won just 34 between them.

Also, Boggs, who did have the excuse of a sore hamstring, sat this series out, and wins the AL batting title over Don Mattingly, who slumped badly in the last 2 weeks.

October 25, 1986, Shea Stadium, New York. "The Buckner Game" was played in New York City, and it did make the Sox look like morons. But it had nothing to do with the Yankees, and it makes the Mets look heroic, and I don't think either Yankee Fans or Sox fans want to hear about that. So let's just move on.

September 28, 1987, Yankee Stadium. Mike Easler -- not traded from Boston to New York for Don Baylor in the 1985-86 off-season, although it did sort of work out that way -- treats Calvin Schiraldi even more harshly than the Mets did in the previous year's World Series. He hits a pinch-hit home run to win the game, 9-7.

May 27, 1991, Yankee Stadium. The Sox are the defending AL East Champions, while the Yankees had finished last the year before, something they'd only previously done in 1908, 1912 and 1966. Only 32,369 come out for this Memorial Day matinee between the old rivals, and the Yanks trail 5-3 in the bottom of the 9th.

But Mel Hall -- who would later leave the Yankees under a cloud -- takes Jeff "the Terminator" Reardon deep. Yankees 6, Red Sox 5. (Maybe Sox fans can blame the 1st base umpire, Larry Barnett, the same ump who they, in their delusions, think screwed them in Game 3 of the '75 World Series.)

A lot of Yankee Fans point to this game as the beginning of the rise from the abyss. It wasn't: 1991 and '92 were both bad years, though not as bad as '89 and '90. But the building blocks were in place: George Steinbrenner had been suspended for 2 years, former good-field-no-hit infielder Gene Michael was running the show as general manager, and the Yankees were making good trades and draft choices, including, the following June, a shortstop from Kalamazoo Central High School in Michigan, a former New Jerseyan named Derek Jeter.

This Mel Hall homer is also cited by some as the beginning of Yankee broadcaster John Sterling's closing call of, "Ballgame over! Yankees win! Theeeeeeee Yankees win!" I'm not so sure. Granted, I was watching this one on WPIX-Channel 11 with Phil Rizzuto, Bobby Murcer and Tom Seaver, rather than listening to Sterling and Joe Angel on 77 WABC.  But even as late as Jim Leyritz's 1995 Playoff walkoff against Seattle, his "Theeeeeeee... " was still just a "The... " without much elongation.

September 14, 1991, Yankee Stadium. This was my 1st live Yanks-Sox game, included among an attendance of 45,758. This was a 4-game series, and the Sox won 3 of them. Not this one: Yankees 3, Red Sox 1. And, yes, Sox fans were every bit as obnoxious as you might expect, especially since they were still in the race (they'd be caught at the death by those pesky Blue Jays) and the Yanks were awful, having just begun their climb back from the abyss of last place the season before.

December 15, 1992, Yankee Stadium. Having been allowed to leave via free agency by the Sox, Boggs signs with the Yankees. It was weird seeing him in Pinstripes, but I got used to it, because he could still hit for average, began to hit with power (taking advantage of the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium), and his fielding, already good, got better.

September 21, 1996, Yankee Stadium. Cecil Fielder turns 33, and becomes the 5th, and the oldest, Yankee to hit a home run against the Red Sox on his birthday. Paul O'Neill also homers, and Tim Raines, better known for stealing bases than slugging, hits 2. The Yankees win a wild one, 12-11.

October 26, 1996, Yankee Stadium. The Yankees beat the Atlanta Braves 3-2, to win Game 6 and clinch the World Series, their 1st such win in 18 years. A moment in time by Red Sox standards, but interminable by ours.

Boggs, who'd come so close with the 1986 Red Sox, got on a policeman's horse and rode around the field in the celebration. Rubbing it in? He may not have thought so, but we sure did.

As Denis Leary, a native of Worcester, Massachusetts, a big Sox fan, but also with connections to New York through his comedy career and his TV series The Job and Rescue Me (about policemen and firemen, respectively), put it: "If you had told my father in 1986 that, within 10 years, Wade Boggs would be celebrating winning a World Series with the Yankees while riding on the back of a police horse, his head would have blown up."

May 24, 1997, Yankee Stadium. Charlie Hayes is best remembered by Yankee Fans for catching the last out of the 1996 World Series. Almost forgotten is this game the following spring, in which he hit a walkoff homer against John Wasdin -- or "Wayback Wasdin," as some Sox fans called him. Yankees 4, Red Sox 2.

February 18, 1999, Yankee Stadium. Although the rivalry was amped up a little bit by the Yankees signing Boggs, Boggs riding that horse, and the arrivals in Boston of Pedro Martinez and Nomar Garciaparra -- the latter forging a rivalry-within-the-rivalry with Yankee shortstop Jeter -- and the Sox had made the Playoffs the season before, this is the day the rivalry really gets going again.

On this day, the Yankees trade pitchers David Wells and Graeme Lloyd, and infielder Homer Bush, to the Toronto Blue Jays for Roger Clemens, whom the Red Sox had cast aside 2 years earlier. Then-Sox general manager Dan Duquette saw Clemens not getting enough run support to get a plus-.500 record, and gaining weight, and said he was "in the twilight of his career."

Whether Duquette blew it big-time, or Clemens really was in the twilight of his career and turned that around with performance-enhancing drugs, may never be fully proven. What we know for sure is this: One way or another, Clemens got back into shape, had 2 great years with the Jays, and became a Yankee Legend, albeit one most of us on the Light Side of The Force are not comfortable with.

In contrast, Sox fans have treated Clemens as their "Darth Vader," forgetting just which side is good and which side is evil.

July 13, 1999, Fenway Park. The Major League Baseball All-Star Game is held at the ancient home of the Sox. Yankee manager Joe Torre is manager for the American League team. Nomar Garciaparra of the Red Sox starts for the American League at shortstop, and receives a standing ovation from the fans after Jeter comes in to replace him after they embrace.

Later in the game, when he came to bat, Jeter gave Garciaparra a tribute by mimicking his batting stance. Pedro starts for the AL, strikes out 5 of the 6 National League batters he faces, and ends up as the winning pitcher. The AL wins, 4-1.
Nomar Garciaparra and Derek Jeter, at Yankee Stadium

Before the game, nominees for the MLB All-Century Team are introduced. The legends wear the current caps of their teams, not necessarily the caps their teams wore in their own time. One of the nominees is Reggie Jackson, former recipient of "Reggie Sucks!" chants from the Fenway stands, and he gets a nice cheer. Hearing this, he looks at the TV camera, wearing his Yankee cap, and winks.
Fenway Park, during pregame ceremonies for the 1999 All-Star Game

There was only one person among the nominees who was booed: Clemens. He wore not the cap of the team that made him famous, the Sox, but of the team for whom he played at the moment, the Yanks. Tremendous booing. Heck, even Rickey Henderson got cheered. (Barry Bonds, not yet known as a steroid cheat, was not in attendance, as he was not named to the NL All-Star Team that year, although he was an All-Century Team nominee.)

July 30, 1999, Fenway Park. I was there for this one. The Sox had recently published their plans for New Fenway Park, to be built across the street, and I figured this might be my last chance to see a Yanks-Sox game at Fenway in the heat of a Pennant race. Who knew at the time that, 10 years later, Fenway would still stand, and it would be the Yankees who had built a new stadium across their

I paid a scalper $42 for a $24 obstructed-view seat -- $64 for a $36 seat in today's money. It was worth every penny. On the 2nd pitch of the game, Chuck Knoblauch hit a home run over the Green Monster. On the 5th pitch of the game, Jeter hit a home run to dead center field. The victimized Sox pitcher was Mark Portugal, who had been a fair pitcher with the Houston Astros, but was now washed up, would retire after the season, and literally fell off the mound a few pitches later.

The Yanks left the 1st inning ahead 2-0, and while the Sox did tie it up, the Yanks unloaded the lumber afterward. Yankees 13, Red Sox 3. Joe Torre let Hideki Irabu pitch a complete game. No, I'm not kidding: Torre let a pitcher go the distance, and Hideki I-rob-you, no less.

At the start of the game, there were 33,777 paying customers in Fenway, and about 10,000 of them were Yankee Fans. By the 7th inning stretch, there were about 15,000 people there, and about 10,000 of them were chanting, "Let's go, Yankees!" A great night. I even ran into a guy who played football at my high school, who was by this point going to Boston College. And he was also a Yankee Fan. What were the odds?

September 10, 1999, Yankee Stadium. Chili Davis hits a home run off Pedro. That's the only hit that Pedro allows, and he strikes out 17 batters, which, through the 2016 season, remains the most ever fanned by a Yankee opponent. Had Andy Pettitte not allowed a home run to Trot Nixon, Pedro would have pitched a one-hitter and struck out 17 Yankees, and lost. Instead... Red Sox 3, Yankees 1.

Pedro begins to achieve godlike status among Sox fans, a status achieved since World War II only by Ted Williams, Tony Conigliaro, Carl Yastrzemski, Carlton Fisk and Nomar. But the Yankees win the American League Eastern Division, while the Sox get the Wild Card.

The part that bothered me in this game was the fans in the bleachers, holding up Dominican flags and banners with Pedro's name on it. I don't care if you're also Dominican: Pedro plays for the enemy. When you come to Yankee Stadium, you are Yankee Fans, and your nationality gets put away. I'm Polish, but I never cheered for the Red Sox just because they had Carl Yastrzemski; and even if I would have, I certainly would have put that on hold against the Yankees.

October 13, 1999, Yankee Stadium. Game 1 of the American League Championship Series. Because the Boston Tie Party of 1978 is officially counted as a regular-season game, this is the first "real" postseason game between the Pinstripes and The Scum. Sox fans are sure that their deliverance from the Yankees and the Curse of the Bambino are finally at hand.

Not tonight: Bernie Williams -- who later says that Yogi Berra told him, "We've been playing these guys for 80 years. They can't beat us" -- leads off the bottom of the 10th inning, hits a home run to dead center field off Rod Beck. Yankees 4, Red Sox 3. The Yanks will take Game 2 as well.
Tino Martinez, Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill

October 16, 1999, Fenway Park. Game 3. Pedro pitches superbly, while the Sox batter Clemens. As Clemens walks off the mound after getting knocked out of the box, a fan holds up a sign saying, "Roger, thanks for the memories -- especially this one!" One side of Fenway chants, "Where is Roger?" The other side chants, "In the shower!" Red Sox 13, Yankees 1. Sox fans are delirious, and are now sure they will beat the Yanks and go all the way.

But, as Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, the man who popularized the phrase "Curse of the Bambino," pointed out, the point was not to beat Clemens, but to win the series. And the Sox still trail it, 2 games to 1. The Yankees don't lose again until April 5, 2000.

October 17, 1999, Fenway Park. Game 4. Admittedly, there were a couple of umpiring mistakes that worked in the Yanks' favor. But it's still 3-2 Yanks in the 9th, and poor fielding leads to a Ricky Ledee grand slam off Beck. Sox fans, furious at the umpiring, throw garbage onto the field.

Since then, the description of Boston as "the Athens of America" gets this response from me: "Bullshit." While there were many fans who had stood by the Sox through all the torment, this was a limited few who had come to the team through Pedro and Nomar, and were more likely to get blitzed than the ones who did so in '78, and they were animals. Of course, these are the ones who get noticed, the kind that got stereotyped as the "Red Sox fans" we have come to know, lampooned on Saturday Night Live by Jimmy Fallon (before he moved on to the U.S. version of Fever Pitch).

Anyway, Yankees 9, Red Sox 2.

October 18, 1999, Fenway Park. Jeter and Jorge Posada hit home runs, Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez pitches superbly, and the Yankees beat the Red Sox, 6-1, and clinch the Pennant, and dance on the field at Fenway. They go on to win the World Series.

May 28, 2000, Yankee Stadium. Roger vs. Pedro again. This one remains scoreless into the 9th, before Trot Nixon hits a home run off Roger, and the Sox win, 2-0.

April 22, 2001, Yankee Stadium. David Justice bangs his gavel off Derek Lowe, hitting a walkoff homer to give the Yanks a 4-3 win.

May 24, 2001, Yankee Stadium. On the 60th birthday of Bob Dylan -- a man who once wrote a song about Catfish Hunter, and another song titled "Seven Curses" (but it had nothing to do with baseball) -- Pedro is getting ready to pitch against the Yankees. "I don't believe in curses," Pedro says. "Wake up the damn Bambino, and have me face him. Maybe I'll drill him in the ass."

But the Yankees beat him. Yankees 2, Red Sox 1. The Yanks move into 1st place, Pedro gets hurt in his next start, and doesn't win another game for the rest of the season.

You don't believe in curses? You mock Babe Ruth -- a better pitcher than you were, Pedro? What a fool. As Dylan might have said, "They'll stone you just like they said they would." When Pedro was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, he walked up to the statue of Ruth in the foyer, and apologized.

September 2, 2001, Fenway Park. Mike Mussina comes within 1 strike of pitching a perfect game, but Carl Everett's 9th-inning, 2-out, 2-strike single is the only baserunner allowed by Mussina. By an amazing coincidence, David Cone, the last Yankee pitcher to throw a perfect game in 1999, had started the game for the Red Sox. Yankees 1, Red Sox 0.

September 18, 2001, Fenway Park. The Sox play their 1st game since the 9/11 attacks. They play the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and win, 7-2. A fan at Fenway holds up a banner of solidarity, which would have been unimaginable 8 days earlier (and on most days since September 2001): "TODAY, WE ❤ NY."

The Yankees also play their 1st game following the resumption of play, in Chicago against the White Sox, and win, 11-3.

December 20, 2001, Fenway Park. The JRY Trust, named for Jean Yawkey, sells the Sox to New England Sports Ventures, the company now named Fenway Sports Group, run by John W. Henry. This ends 79 years of Yawkey family-connected ownership of the Sox. (Tom and Jean never had any children to take over for them; Jean inherited the team when Tom died in 1976, and John Harrington had run the club through the Trust since Jean's death in 1992.)

The Henry group, including former Florida Marlins owner Henry, former Baltimore Orioles and San Diego Padres president Larry Lucchino, and the youngest general manager in the game at the time, Theo Epstein, change the culture around the club.

The fans, having already changed into the Chowdaheads that they became at the dawn of the Nomar-Pedro era, don't change, but they sure embrace this change.

December 26, 2002, Fenway Park. The Yankees sign Cuban pitcher Jose Contreras, and new Sox president Larry Lucchino, in a fit of petulance, calls the Yankees "the Evil Empire."

Oh, really? Putting aside the question of which team is actually more evil... The term "Evil Empire" had been used by President Ronald Reagan -- who knew more about baseball than he did about economics or foreign affairs -- to describe the Soviet Union. Excuse me, Larry, but how do you square the image of the heavily capitalist Yankees with Communism and its prohibition of private property?

Some Yankee Fans, however, connect the word "Empire" with the villains of the Star Wars film franchise, including one fan who made a T-shirt with Darth Vader's helmet, saying, "May the Curse be with you."

October 11, 2003, Fenway Park. Game 3 of the ALCS, and another Roger vs. Pedro matchup. Pedro hits Karim Garcia in the head, on purpose. Not the first time he's hit a Yankee on purpose, nor will it be the last, but it is easily the most notorious.

There is yelling back and forth. Jorge Posada, himself a former Pedro victim, yells in Spanish so that Pedro has no problem understanding. Pedro points at his head, then at Jorge. Message: "I'm going to hit you in the head." Making such a threat is a crime.

Later in the game, Clemens pitches to Manny Ramirez, and the pitch is head-high... but over the plate, and clearly not intended to hit Manny. (As we've seen, if Roger Clemens wanted to hit a batter, that batter got hit.) Manny points at Clemens and walks toward him, still holding the bat. The benches clear again, and Yankee coach Don Zimmer -- manager of the Sox in 1978, but also a former player who nearly died from a beaning in Triple-A ball in 1953 -- runs toward Pedro.

Pedro Martinez, age 32, grabs Don Zimmer, age 72, by the head, and throws him to the ground. Attempted murder, if the jurisdiction is New York City. In Boston, Zimmer ends up forced to apologize, with Pedro getting a $50,000 fine -- pocket change, with what the Sox are paying him.

Refresh my memory: Did we have to apologize to Japan for putting Pearl Harbor in the way of our Pacific Coast?
When things finally settle down, Clemens finishes his strikeout of Manny. Yankees 4, Red Sox 3. The next day, Game 4 is rained out, giving everyone a 24-hour cooling-off period, which was really for the best.

English soccer fans like to refer to their rivals as "The Scum," and their rivals' fans as "Scummers." As far as I'm concerned, this was the day the Red Sox stopped being mere arch-rivals, and truly became The Scum. They can take their "Evil Empire" talk and shove it up their own evil asses.

October 16, 2003, Yankee Stadium. It comes down to a Game 7. David Ortiz hits 2 home runs (cough-steroids-cough), and the Sox lead 5-2 in the bottom of the 8th. By this point, Ortiz, a.k.a. "Big Papi," has been hitting the Yanks like crazy all year. His success against the Yankees will eventually beg the question, "How many times does a guy have to get big hits off you before you plunk him?"

Ah, but there's a double standard at work: A Sox pitcher can hit a Yankee batter, and get away with it every... single... time; a Yankee pitcher can hit a Sox batter, and he gets thrown out of the game, fined and suspended. Anyway, the Sox need 5 more outs.

Derek Jeter doubles. Bernie Williams singles, Jeter scores. 5-3.

Sox manager Grady Little comes out, and he has to know that Pedro has thrown too many pitches, and that the next 2 batters are Hideki Matsui, a lefty; and Posada, a switch-hitter but much better from the left side than from the right; so the right thing to do is to bring in a lefthanded pitcher, probably Alan Embree (who usually pitched well against the Yankees), to pitch Matsui lefty-on-lefty and turn Posada to his weaker right side. The decision seems obvious to everyone: Sox fans, Yankee Fans, the Fox broadcast team, neutral TV viewers.

Obvious to everyone, that is, except for the man whose decision it was: Little. He leaves Pedro in. Matsui hits a ground-rule double, moving Bernie to 3rd base.

2nd & 3rd, only 1 out, and the dangerous (especially from the left side) Posada coming up. Now Little has got to take Pedro out, and bring in Embree.

But he stays in the dugout. Pedro remains on the mound, and Jorge dumps a looper into short center, scoring Bernie and Hideki. 5-5. Yet another legendary Sox choke, and The Stadium shakes with fans cheering and jumping. (And, considering Game 3, I find it very fitting that Posada got the hit that ended Pedro's night.)

Bottom of the 11th, and Tim Wakefield, who had beaten the Yanks in Games 1 and 4 of the series, and had pitched a scoreless 10th, opens the inning by throwing a 69 miles-per-hour knuckleball to Aaron Boone. Boom. Yankees 6, Red Sox 5. Boone takes his place alongside Bucky Dent and Bill Buckner.
Was this the greatest game of all time? Or, at least, the greatest Yanks-Sox game? It might have been, if the Yankees had won the ensuing World Series. But they lost. I don't want to talk about it. Jeff Fucking Weaver.

So, to me, the Bucky Dent Game remains the greatest. We won the World Series after that one.

November 28, 2003, Fenway Park. Having failed to trade Nomar to the Texas Rangers for Alex Rodriguez, the Red Sox instead pull off a "reverse Tom Seaver": They trade 4 nobodies to the Arizona Diamondbacks for one of the top pitchers in the game, Curt Schilling, who had previously driven the Yankees nuts in the 2001 World Series.

As a Philadelphia Phillie, Schilling had been described by general manager Lee Thomas as follows: "One day out of five, he's a horse; the other four, he's a horse's ass." Schilling lives up to that reputation at his introductory press conference in Boston, by saying, "I guess I hate the Yankees now."

February 15, 2004, Yankee Stadium. With the Sox having failed to trade for A-Rod, making a very public mess of the negotiations with the Texas Rangers, the Yankees succeed, sending Alfonso Soriano to Texas for the biggest name (if not the best player) in baseball. With Jeter still at shortstop, A-Rod moves over to 3rd base.

July 1, 2004, Yankee Stadium. As wild a regular-season game as you'll ever see. The Yankees end up using everyone on their roster. The Sox use everyone on theirs, except for 2. One is backup catcher Doug Mirabelli. The other is Nomar, apparently injured but not on the Disabled List -- and the fact that Nomar is not sent into what is very much a key game, calendar be damned, is telling.

Once, Nomar, Jeter and A-Rod were the subjects of a debate as to who was the best shortstop in baseball. Now, Jeter is making a diving play that saves the game, A-Rod is playing 3rd base and moving to shortstop after Jeter got hurt on that play, and Nomar is sitting on the bench, leading to his being traded by the Sox within a few days.

Manny homers in the top of the 13th, but Miguel Cairo and John Flaherty double in the bottom of the 13th to win it. Yankees 6, Red Sox 5. A stunning game whose re-airing on the YES Network the next morning gets relabeled from "Yankees Recap" to "Yankees Classic." (It also allowed "Flash" Flaherty to turn his one big hit in the major leagues into a broadcasting career on YES. Then again, one big hit is more than Fran Healy, a backup catcher for the Yankees who broadcast for both New York teams, ever got.)

July 24, 2004, Fenway Park. Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo -- white people should never wear cornrows, except for Bo Derek -- purposely hits A-Rod in the back. A-Rod curses Captain Cornrows out. Sox catcher and Captain Jason Varitek leaves on his mask, like the coward that he is, and pushes his catcher's mitt into A-Rod's pretty face, instigating a full-scale brawl.
Refresh my memory: Which of these teams is evil? After the 1976 brawl, Bill Lee said, "The Yankees looked like a bunch of hookers swinging their purses." Well, at least they didn't hide behind protective masks.

Bill Mueller takes Mariano Rivera deep in the bottom of the 9th. Red Sox 9, Yankees 8. Mueller has often been suspected of steroid use, but has thus far been protected from such revelations.

September 19, 2004, Yankee Stadium. Yankees 11, Red Sox 1. The Yankees, the one team that seems to give Pedro trouble, beat him yet again, pounding him. In a postgame press conference, he says, "I just tip my cap, and call the Yankees my daddy."

"Who's Your Daddy?" chants will dog Pedro for the rest of his career. One fan -- was it Vinny Milano, a.k.a. Bald Vinny the River Avenue T-shirt vendor? -- made up a T-shirt showing Darth Vader wearing a Yankee jersey, and saying, as if to Luke Skywalker, "Pedro, I am your father!"
The chant even returned when Pedro pitched for the Mets in an Interleague game in 2006, and for the Philadelphia Phillies in Games 2 and 6 of the 2009 World Series at the new Yankee Stadium.

October 17, 2004, Fenway Park. Game 4 of the American League Championship Series. The Yankees had won the 1st 3, including 19-8 last night. The Sox were looking pitiful. Still, their resident wisenheimer, Kevin Millar, told the media, "Don't let us win tonight."

It seemed like a ridiculous thing to say, for 8 1/2 innings. It was 4-3 Yankees going to the bottom of the 9th. All the Yankees needed to complete a sweep was 3 more outs without a run, and Mariano Rivera was on the mound.

But, Cliche Alert: Walks can kill you, especially the leadoff variety. Rivera issued a leadoff walk to Millar himself. Manager Terry Francona took Millar out, replacing him with pinch-runner Dave Roberts. Everybody watching this game, in Fenway or on TV, knew that Roberts would try to steal 2nd base. Joe Torre could have called a pitchout. He didn't, and Roberts had what is now the most famous stolen base in baseball history. Bill Mueller singled up the middle to bring Roberts home with the tying run.

In the bottom of the 12th, Paul Quantrill allowed a single to Manny Ramirez, and gave up a walkoff home run to Ortiz. Red Sox 6, Yankees 4.

October 18, 2004, Fenway Park. Okay, it was 1 game. The Yankees just had to win tonight to close it out in Boston. And Mike Mussina had taken a perfect game into the 7th inning of Game 1. This shouldn't be too hard.

Is it sounding like the 1978 Boston Massacre yet, with the cleat on the other foot?

The Yankees trailed 2-1 in the top of the 6th, but took a 4-2 lead. That lead held into the bottom of the 8th. But former Sox pitcher Tom Gordon gave up a leadoff homer to Ortiz. Again, Millar drew a walk; again, he was replaced by Roberts. No steal necessary this time: Trot Nixon singled, Gabe Kapler ran for Nixon, Mariano was brought in, and Varitek hit a sacrifice fly to score Roberts and tie the game. For the 2nd night in a row, Rivera had blown a postseason save. The entire rest of his career, he did that only twice.

The game went to the bottom of the 14th. At 5 hours and 49 minutes, it was, at the time, the longest postseason game by time. Esteban Loiaza, a former Chicago White Sox ace who'd been shaky for the Yanks that season, had pitched valiantly since the 11th, and struck Mark Bellhorn out to start the inning. But he was out of gas. Again, it was walks that made the difference: He walked Damon and Ramirez, bracketing a strikeout of Orlando Cabrera. Then Ortiz hit not a home run, but a looping single that was enough to bring Damon home. Red Sox 5, Yankees 4.

October 19, 2004, Yankee Stadium. Game 6. The series had come back to Yankee Stadium, home of Mystique and Aura and 39 American League Pennants and 26 World Championships. All the Yanks had to do was win tonight, and all those brand-new Sox memories would have been as wasted as Carlton Fisk’s home run that won Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.

Except Curt Schilling (who had said before the series, "I'm not sure I can think of any scenario more enjoyable than making 55,000 Yankee Fans shut up") was pitching for the Sox. So badly hurt that he couldn't pitch well in Game 1, he’d had a special surgery on his ankle that allowed him to pitch tonight.

And the Yankees refused to test that ankle by bunting on him. John McGraw would have done it. Casey Stengel would have done it. Earl Weaver (not a New York manager but a crafty one) would have done it. You can be damn sure that Billy Martin would have done it. Joe Torre didn't do it.  What good is "class" if you lose? Especially to The Scum?

Schilling pitched 7 solid innings, and Bellhorn (cough-steroids-cough) hit a home run. It was a reverse of the Jeffrey Maier play in 1996: The ball hit a front-row fan in the chest and bounced back onto the field. It was an obvious home run, but the umpires ruled it went off the wall. Sox manager Terry Francona appealed, and the ruling was (sadly, but correctly) changed to a homer.

The Sox still led 4-2 in the bottom of the 8th, but the Yankees got Derek Jeter on 1st. With 1 out, Alex Rodriguez came to the plate. And the pitcher is Bronson Arroyo, Captain Cornrows (cough-steroids-cough), whose purpose pitch to A-Rod's back at Fenway back in July led to a nasty brawl.

Alex hits a weak grounder back to the mound, and as Arroyo tries to make the tag just before 1st base, he (or so it first appears) drops the ball. It’s been 18 years (minus 6 days) since the Bill Buckner Game. Now, at another New York ballpark in October, a ball rolls away from 1st base down the right-field line, and a run scores against the Red Sox! It's 4-3 Boston, and A-Rod is on 2nd with the tying run! The Stadium is going bananas! Red Sox fans are in full "Oh, noooo, not again! It can't be happening again!" mode.

Except this call is reversed as well. It's The Slap Play. A-Rod slapped the ball out of Arroyo's glove. It met baseball's legal definition of interference, and he was called out. What's more, Jeter was sent back to 1st.

That's the part that bothers me, ruling-wise: Jeter had nothing to do with the interference, and he would have had 2nd legitimately even if A-Rod had done nothing out of the ordinary, and Arroyo had been allowed to properly tag him out. It wasn't Jeter's fault: 2nd base was rightfully his, interference or no, even if 3rd and home were not.

This killed the rally, but, as mad as I was at the umpires, A-Rod was rightfully the real target of Yankee Fans' wrath, including my own. This was the beginning of A-Rod's image as "a player who screws the Yankees over in the clutch," and he did not shake it until October 2009. Though he did his damnedest to restore it in the next 3 Octobers, and again in 2015. (So how many bad Octobers does one good October excuse? Apparently, at least 8.)

The Sox held on to win by that same 4-2 score, and the series was tied, the 1st time a Major League Baseball team had ever come back from 3-games-to-none down to force a Game 7.

For the first time since I became aware of the Curse of the Bambino, I believed it was not going to work. As the man who popularized the Curse, Boston Globe sports columnist Dan Shaughnessy, pointed out, the kinds of things that usually went against the Red Sox and/or in the Yankees favor were now working the other way around.

As bad as the next night was, Game 6 was really the day that any curse, jinx, hex, hoodoo, hammer, whammy, whommy, whatever you want to call it, that the Yankees had over the Red Sox came to an end.

And those of us who are old enough to remember could feel it coming. I had no confidence at all that the Yankees would win Game 7, not even at home, especially with their starting pitching options so messed-up. As the aforementioned Doris Kearns Goodwin, a Brooklyn Dodger fan as a kid but a Red Sox fan since going to Harvard, likes to say, "There's always these omens in baseball." This was an omen to rival Damien Thorn.

Had the Yankees won Game 6, there would have been no Game 7. David Ortiz's "heroics" of Game 4 and Game 5 would have been meaningless, as they were the year before. The Yankees would have prepared for the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, and probably won it.

If that had happened, you can be damn sure that the outcry from Red Sox fans (and fans of other teams that hate the Yankees) that, due to the steroid use of A-Rod, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield, "The Yankees cheated" and should be stripped of their Pennant and title. And their willing accomplices in the media would have gone along with it. There would have been a cloud over the Yankees, the way there never has been over the Red Sox, who, through Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, were far more reliant on performance-enhancing drugs, and, from 2003 to 2016, the Big Papi Years, probably wouldn't even have made the Playoffs, much less won 3 World Series.

The Yankees wouldn't have gotten away with it, as the Red Sox always have.

Still, having that cloud over us -- which we essentially had put over us anyway -- would have been preferable to the insufferable unearned arrogance of the Boston fans of 2004 onward, especially the bandwagoners.

And I still want the blood on Schilling's sock tested! I think he was using steroids, too! And somebody else must think so. It can't be only his rotten personality, his politics, and his post-retirement business shenanigans that's keeping him out of the Hall of Fame. If anything, those things, as bad as they are, should be irrelevant as to whether he belongs in Cooperstown.

October 20, 2004, Yankee Stadium. Game 7 is a disaster from the outset, as proven steroid user Ortiz homers again. Red Sox 10, Yankees 3.
What a difference 4 days can make.

The Red Sox become the 1st Major League Baseball team to come back from a 3-games-to-0 postseason deficit, and win the Pennant, clinching at Yankee Stadium, a house of pain for them for so long. They go on to beat the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series, killing the Curse of the Bambino after 86 years.

Or so they thought. Now we know the truth.

Part V, the finale, is ahead.

Yankees vs. Red Sox, The Defining Moments, Part III, 1967-1982

April 14, 1967, Yankee Stadium. The Yankees hold their home opener, and the Sox start a rookie, Billy Rohr. He comes within 1 strike of a no-hitter, partly thanks to an amazing 9th-inning catch of a Tom Tresh line drive by Carl Yastrzemski, the kind of play that makes you think, "If he wasn't going to lose the no-hitter on that play, he's not going to lose it."

But Elston Howard -- ironically, to join the Sox late in the season to help with their Pennant race -- singled to right to break it up. Rohr finishes it up, and the Red Sox win, 3-1. Five days later, at Fenway, Rohr beats the Yankees again. But he would win only 1 more game in his career, wash out, and become a lawyer. He got a huge hand at the Fenway Park Centennial celebration in 2012.

June 21, 1967, Yankee Stadium. Thad Tillotson beans Sox 3rd baseman Joe Foy, later to be a part of one of the biggest bonehead trades in history -- not surprisingly, by the Mets. 

When Tillotson comes up to bat (there will be no designated hitter in the American League until 1973), Jim Lonborg beans Tillotson. The benches empty, and all hell breaks loose. It becomes one of the nastiest brawls in baseball history, and it may be the earliest one preserved in any kind of video. The fight is, more or less, a draw. The game is a Boston win: Red Sox 8, Yankees 1.

Despite the acrimony from this brawl, this was an anomaly in the teams' relationship in the era. It was not the beginning of the modern Yanks-Sox rivalry. That was still to come.

October 1, 1967, Fenway Park. Lonborg, putting together a 22-win season that will win him the AL Cy Young Award, goes the distance. Yastrzemski ties the game with a bases-loaded single to clinch the Triple Crown, MLB's last until 2012. The Red Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 5-3. When the Detroit Tigers only split a doubleheader against the California Angels, the Sox have won their 1st Pennant in 21 years, only their 2nd in 49 years.
Yaz '67

While the Sox were putting together their "Impossible Dream" season, the one that gets remembered as the one that began "Red Sox Nation," the Yankees finished 9th in the 10-team AL. The Sox took the World Series to 7 games, before losing to the St. Louis Cardinals.
Fenway Park, 1967

September 28, 1968, Fenway Park. Mickey Mantle pops up to shortstop Rico Petrocelli in the top of the 1st inning, and is replaced at 1st base by Andy Kosco. The Boston crowd gives him a standing ovation, suspecting, as they had with Babe Ruth in 1934, that this was the last time they would see him. Indeed, it was the last game of his career, as he did not enter the next day's game, the regular season finale.

Joe Pepitone hits a home run in the top of the 9th inning off Lonborg, who tailed off considerably this season due to an off-season injury, and the Yankees win, 5-4.

April 7, 1970, Yankee Stadium. This was Opening Day, and, at first glance, it might not have any more significance than that. But it was the 1st Yankee game of my lifetime. It didn't end so well for the Good Guys, as only 21,379 came out to the big ballyard in The Bronx to see Mel Stottlemyre give up an RBI double to opposing pitcher Gary Peters. Red Sox 4, Yankees 3.

The Yanks did finish 2nd, with 93 wins, far ahead of the Sox, but the Baltimore Orioles ran away with the AL Eastern Division and won the World Series.

September 15, 1970, Yankee Stadium. Curt Blefary's time with the Yankees wasn't as good as his preceding time with the Orioles, but he did hit a pinch-hit walkoff homer in this game, against Mike Nagy. Yankees 3, Red Sox 2.

March 22, 1972, Fort Lauderdale Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The Yankees and Red Sox complete what remains the biggest trade between the teams since Harry Frazee's selloff in the late 1910s and early 1920s. The Sox send wacky relief pitcher Albert "Sparky" Lyle to the Yankees, in exchange for Danny Cater and a player to be named later, who turns out to be Mario Guerrero.
The Sox didn't know how to handle Lyle, and their reasoning for obtaining Cater was that he hit well at Fenway Park, so why not let him play there 81 times a year? It didn't work, as Cater's batting average dropped from .276 in 1971 to .237. You see, the reason that Cater hit so well at Fenway is that he was batting against Red Sox pitchers. Now, he wasn't doing that anymore. Guerrero was never more than the stereotypical "good-field-no-hit" middle infielder.

Sparky, in 1972, set an American League record (though it was broken a year later) with 35 saves, and set the standard for Yankee relievers that was followed by Goose Gossage,Dave Righetti, John Wetteland and Mariano Rivera.

Sparky Lyle. Along with Reggie Jackson, 
Thurman Munson, Chris Chambliss, Mickey Rivers,
Willie Randolph, Dick Tidrow,  and eventually Goose Gossage,
Yankee opponents in the late 1970s had to fear the 'stache.

April 6, 1973, Fenway Park. Opening Day. Ron Blomberg bats for the Yankees, and becomes the 1st official player to come to bat as a designated hitter. He draws a walk. It doesn't help: The Red Sox win, 15-5.

This was also the 1st game as Yankee owner for George Steinbrenner, a Cleveland-born, Tampa-based shipbuilding tycoon. He said, "I won't be active in the day-to-day operations of the club at all. I've got enough headaches with my shipbuilding company." 

It would soon be clear that he was lying. But he would also do whatever it took, including going with the new rules of free agency and big spending, to build the Yankees back into World Champions.

August 1, 1973, Fenway Park. In 1972, the Yanks and Sox were both still in the Pennant race as late as August for the 1st time since 1953. But it would not be the 1st time since 1951 that both were still in it as late as September. That would have to wait until 1974.

On this day, with the game tied 2-2 in the top of the 9th, Yankee catcher Thurman Munson leads off with a double, and is sacrificed to 3rd. With Gene Michael at the plate, manager Ralph Houk orders a suicide squeeze. (You see, Houk was a smart man, and he knew "Stick" Michael couldn't hit a beach ball with a telephone pole.)

Michael misses the pitch anyway, and Munson, a dead duck at home, tries the only thing that might save him, to dislodge the ball from the mitt ofnSox catcher Carlton Fisk, only to have Fisk flip him aside. The two catchers already don't like each other, and they go at it, clearing the benches. A rivalry is reborn, and the Sox win this battle. Red Sox 3, Yankees 2.
Neither team won the Division (the Orioles did). In 1974, the Yanks and Sox would chase each other into September as the top 2 teams. Then the Orioles got into the act again, and smacked the Sox, who collapsed to 3rd place. The O's then swept a doubleheader at Shea Stadium (the Yanks had to play '74 and '75 at the Flushing Toilet while The Stadium was being renovated) in late September to take the Division. The Sox did win the Pennant in '75, losing an epic World Series to the Cincinnati Reds in 7 games. And then...

May 20, 1976, Yankee Stadium. Bottom of the 6th. Lou Piniella comes around to score, but Fisk gets the ball. Sweet Lou barrels into Pudge, but it's no use, he's out. Fisk shoves Piniella, and here we go again. This one was even nastier than the brawls of '67 at The Stadium and '73 at Fenway.

The combatants are separated, but Sox reliever Bill Lee -- who may have hated the Yankees more than any Red Sock ever, at least until the Roid Sox of 2003-present -- starts yelling at 3rd baseman Graig Nettles, claiming that Nettles had hurt his shoulder. Spewing obscenities like a typical drunken lout Sox fan, "the Spaceman" (may NYPD Detective Sam Tyler, wherever he is, forgive me) calls Nettles out.

Lee was a pretty good pitcher up until this point, but this incident may have been the effect of drugs on his brain. (He has occasionally expressed his liking of marijuana, which usually leaves one much mellower than this.) If you call Graig Nettles out, he's going to clobber you. He did. Yeah, it was a sucker punch, but then, Lee was a sucker.
The Sox won the game, 8-2, but lost the fight, only split that 4-game series, and were well back of the Yankees, who went on to win the Pennant.
Lee later said, "The Yankees fought like hookers swinging their purses." First of all, How would he know? Second of all, what does it say about him that he still lost the fight?

Sox fans like to say that Nettles ruined Lee, a great pitcher until then, but who never recovered. Actually, Lee was only a pretty good pitcher until then, and Lee did recover -- after yet another brilliant Sox trade, sending Lee to the Montreal Expos for Stan Papi. Not the Papi that Sox fans like to remember.
July 9, 1976, Boston. Tom Yawkey dies of leukemia at the age of 73. His widow Jean inherits the team. From this point onward, the tenor of the Sox organization changes. Tom was always willing to spend big in the hope of winning. But the money was Jean's now, and she was going to keep as much of it as she could. Which helped the Sox' opponents.

July 25, 1976, Yankee Stadium. Chris Chambliss turns a 5-3 Sox lead in the bottom of the 9th into a 6-5 Yankee win with a home run off Tom House -- known today as a pitching coach and as the man who, standing in the Atlanta Braves' bullpen in 1974, caught the ball Hank Aaron hit for his 715th career home run. 

This was foreshadowing of the Pennant-winning walkoff Chambliss would hit against the Kansas City Royals less than 3 months later.

June 18, 1977, Fenway Park. Jim Rice was a great power hitter, but was also slow as molasses. Yet Reggie Jackson misplays his looper, and Rice ends up on 2nd base. Manager Billy Martin pulls Reggie out of the game in mid-inning, and they end up shouting at each other in the dugout. Billy says something that ticks Reggie off, and Reggie tells Billy that all the alcohol he's has been ingesting has been getting into his brain.

How many Yankee catching legends turned coaches does it take to restrain Billy Martin? Two, apparently: Yogi Berra and Elston Howard. And the whole country (well, anyone in the country who wanted to watch baseball) sees this on the NBC Game of the Week. Red Sox 10, Yankees 4.

Oddly, the Red Sox did not score in the inning, and there was no play in the remainder of the game where having Blair in the field would have made a difference. It was a complete waste on Billy's part.

The Sox finish a series sweep the next day, and it takes several players, including Captain Thurman Munson and even Reggie himself -- who knows that Billy getting fired would be the worst thing for him, public-relations-wise -- to talk Steinbrenner out of firing Billy.

June 24, 1977, Yankee Stadium. The Yanks need a win over these guys. Real bad. They trail in the bottom of the 9th. But Roy White, the senior Yankee at this point, knocks one out to send it to extra innings. In the bottom of the 11th, Reggie gets his first real chance to prove his clutch bona fides in New York, and singles home Nettles with the winning run. Yankees 6, Red Sox 5. This begins a Yank sweep, and the race is back on.

September 14, 1977, Yankee Stadium. The Yanks already won last night, and the Sox need this one badly if they want to win the Division. This was the only way to make the Playoffs from 1969 to 1993 -- no Wild Cards.

Going into the bottom of the 9th, Ed Figueroa and Reggie Cleveland are both pitching shutouts. (Yes, kids, they both went the whole way.) Munson opens the inning with a single up the middle, and Reggie cranks one. Yankees 2, Red Sox 0.

The Sox win the next night, but as soon as the ball left Reggie's bat on this night, the American League Eastern Division race was effectively over. After a very nasty year, Reggie had won over his teammates and the New York fans. He did some hitting in the postseason, too.
It's easy to find a photo of Billy Martin smiling.
Same with Reggie Jackson. But smiling together? That's a bit harder.

This was Reggie's 2nd walkoff homer for the Yankees. He would make it 4, but this was the only one against the Sox.
After leading the AL East for most of the season, the Sox ended up finishing 2 1/2 games behind the Yankees, tied with the Orioles for 2nd place. But this blowing of a Division lead was just foreshadowing for the next year.
Yankee Stadium, after the 1973-76 renovation

November 23, 1977, Fenway Park. Mike Torrez signs as a free agent with the Sox. He had won 17 games in the regular season, including 14 after being traded from the Oakland Athletics to the Yankees. This did not include losing the game in June where Reggie and Billy set it off in the Fenway dugout. But then, nor did it include his wins in Games 3 and 6 in the World Series.
In spite of Sox fans' love of Luis Tiant and Bill Lee, it was actually Torrez, with 16 wins, who was 2nd on the '78 Sox in wins, behind the 20 of another off-season pickup, Dennis Eckersley, who had won 14, including a no-hitter, for the '77 Cleveland Indians. 

(Incidentally, Torrez wore Number 21 for the Sox, a number that had previously been worn by 1946 Pennant hero Tex Hughson, and would later be worn by Roger Clemens. He had worn 24 for most of his career, including with the Yankees, but Dwight Evans was wearing that number in Boston.)

Taking such a key pitcher off the Yankees, let alone bringing him in to themselves, should have been a big boost for the Sox and a big blow for the Yanks. And for a long time, it sure looked that way: As Billy Martin said, "Torrez is a hoss," and he was every bit the hoss for the '78 Sox that he was for the '77 Yanks -- and the '76 A's, for whom he won 16; and the '75 Orioles, for whom he won 20; and the '72 and '74 Montreal Expos, for whom he won 16 and 15, respectively.

And yet, there had to be a reason that Torrez kept changing teams. He won another 16 for the Sox in '79, but never won that many again.  In 1983, they let him get away to the Mets (wearing Number 30 for them, as did Nolan Ryan), where in 1984 he (accidentally, I think) beaned Houston Astro shortstop Dickie Thon, curtailing what was shaping up to be a very good career. His own ended that season, and although he won 185 games, he also lost 160, and has never been seriously considered for the Hall of Fame.

If he was a bad teammate, it's never been publicized, and he's always been invited back to Yankee Stadium for Old-Timers' Day -- which has often included him pitching to Bucky Dent. More on that in a moment.

June 27, 1978, Yankee Stadium. The Sox are flying. The Yanks are reeling and hurting.  The Yanks need a win, very badly. Graig Nettles gives it to them, hitting a 2-run shot off Dick Drago to win it in the bottom of the 9th. Yankees 6, Red Sox 4.

July 4, 1978, Fenway Park. The Sox are still flying. The Yanks are still reeling and hurting. The Sox won last night. The Fenway Faithful are cackling with glee, as it looks like the Sox will run away with the AL East title. The Yanks are desperate.

And the game is rained out. This turns out to be tremendously important, as the game is rescheduled for September 7, the beginning of what will now be a 4-game series, instead of a 3-gamer.

This was also the day after NewsChannel 4's Dr. Frank Field predicted beautiful weather for the 4th of July, claiming it would be perfect for the beach, the boardwalk, and fireworks, and the rain that soaked New England also soaked the New York Tri-State Area. The only fireworks that day were on the NBC switchboard, from furious viewers, and Field shows up for the 6:00 news with a noose around his neck. It was meant as a joke. I think.

I was 8 years old, and so upset over the postponement of the fireworks at Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey. Little did I know how much this would end up benefiting the Yankees...

July 17, 1978, Yankee Stadium. Billy gives Reggie a bunt sign in the bottom of the 9th. He hasn't bunted in 6 years. After strike 1, Billy takes the bunt sign off. Reggie decides he's been shown up, so he's going to show Billy up in return -- almost exactly the reverse of what happened at Fenway the previous year. He bunts foul with 2 strikes, and thus strikes out. The Yankees lose 9-7 to the Kansas City Royals in 11 innings.

The Yankees are now in 4th place, 14 games behind the Red Sox. Overall, the Sox lead by 9 games over the Milwaukee Brewers. Billy suspends Reggie for 5 games -- and the Yankees win all 5, in Minnesota against the Twins and Chicago against the White Sox.

July 23, 1978, O'Hare International Airport, Chicago. Reggie's suspension ends. While boarding the plane that will take the Yankees to Kansas City, Billy is asked by a reporter how he'll handle Reggie. Having already visited an airport bar, he mumbles something about Reggie, and something about George Steinbrenner, and then says, "You know, they're made for each other. One's a born liar, the other's convicted." 

Billy was referencing George's conviction for violating campaign finance laws as the director of Ohio Democrats for Nixon in 1972, for which he avoided jail time, and was pardoned by a later Republican President, Ronald Reagan.

George flies out to Kansas City, and word of this fact gets to Billy. Once he sobers up, Billy knows that, like Nixon, he'll be "impeached" if he doesn't resign. He does. 

George hires Bob Lemon, the Hall of Fame Cleveland Indians pitcher who'd recently been fired as manager of the White Sox. He calms the team down, tells them to just go out and play, and sees them get healthy.

August 3, 1978, Yankee Stadium. After playing 14 innings the night before, a rule that is no longer in place, that no inning may start in an American League game after 1:00 AM, is invoked. The game is restarted, and the Sox win 7-5 in 17 innings. The Sox are leading the regularly-scheduled game 8-1 after 7 innings when it starts raining, and it's called.

The Yankees were now 8 1/2 games back, with 55 to play. It looks like it's over. But, as Yankee coach and catching legend Yogi Berra (though managing the Mets at the time, in 1973) said, "It ain't over 'til it's over." The Yankees' injuries have begun to clear up. Jim "Catfish" Hunter had briefly recovered from shoulder woes, and went on to win 6 straight decisions. And the Sox developed injuries, and, unlike the Yankees, they did not have a bench equal to the task.

September 7, 1978, Fenway Park. The Yanks got healthy and got hot, and had turned a 14-game deficit on July 20 into a 4-game deficit. Little-known fact: The Sox actually led the AL East by 10 games over Milwaukee on July 8, 9 on August 13, and 7 as late as August 31. So, while the Yankees gained 14 games, technically, the Sox "only" blew a 10-game lead.
Now it was the Sox were hurting and slumping, and their bench was to be tested. As the kids are saying these days, "Epic fail."
The 1st game was played on the night that Keith Moon, drummer for The Who, died from a drug overdose. Some Sox fans began to wish they could join him. Willie Randolph got 3 hits before Butch Hobson, the Sox' badly injured 3rd baseman and Number 9 hitter, even came to bat. Yankees 15, Red Sox 3.

September 8, 1978, Fenway Park. The 2nd game is a near-repeat performance, as Mickey Rivers got 3 hits before Hobson, elbow bone chips and all, could reach the plate. Yankees 13, Red Sox 2.

September 9, 1978, Fenway Park. The 3rd game is an NBC Game of the Week, and it is each team's ace, Ron Guidry (having the greatest season any Yankee pitcher has ever had) against Dennis Eckersley (having the greatest season any Sox pitcher had between Jim Lonborg in '67 and Roger Clemens in '86). Sox fans were confident that all they had to do was take these last 2 games, and the Yanks would have wasted all those runs and hits for nothing.
But the Yanks smacked the Eck around. Yankees 7, Red Sox 0. Someone wrote, "This is the first time a first-place team has been eliminated from the race."

September 10, 1978, Fenway Park. The Sox come close in the series finale, getting the tying run to the plate late, but... Yankees 7, Red Sox 4.

Tied for 1st. The defining image of the series is of Sox Captain and legend Carl Yastrzemski leaning against the scoreboard at the base of the Green Monster, head bowed, as if to say, "Please... I'll do anything you say... Just don't hurt us anymore... " (Sadly, I can't find a copy of that photo to put here.)
But I did find this one of Yaz. 
I think it's from the 2nd game.

An urban legend said that someone got on top of a bar somewhere in New England, and said, "The sons of bitches killed our grandfathers, they killed our fathers, and now they've come for us."

Except it wasn't over. In 1904 and 1949, it took 154 games to decide a Yanks-Sox race.  In 1977, it took 161 out of the 162 games. This time, it would require a Game 163, as the Sox won 12 of their last 14, including their last 8, while the Yankees lost their Game 162.

October 2, 1978, Fenway Park. I like to call it the Boston Tie Party. Red Sox fans like to call it something else. This game had so many twists and turns, and, with the possible exception of the 1951 Dodger-Giant Playoff (the Bobby Thomson Game), it has probably had more books written about it than any single game in the history of baseball.

What can I say about this game that hasn't already been said, including by myself? Probably nothing, so I'll simply say, "Bucky Blessed Dent."
"Destiny 5, Red Sox 4" -- that's what the headline in the next day's Boston Herald-American said. Well, of course: "DESTINY" ends with "NY." The Yanks went on to win the World Series again.
One of the aforementioned books

The difference between this Sox loss to the Yankees and the one 25 years later is stark. When Nettles caught Yaz's popup for the final out, the Sox, as can be seen on the videotape, sort of slink back into their dugout, looking as if they were thinking, "If we couldn't do it this time, we'll never be able to do it." And, sure enough, the next time they got close, in 1986, only 8 years later, only 3 players were left from '77 and '78: Rice, Evans and Bob Stanley. And only Rice and Evans were still there from the '75 World Series.
They had won 196 games in 2 seasons -- just as they had won 192 in 1948-49 -- and, as in that 1940s instance, they hadn't even made baseball's official postseason, partly because they'd lost a one-game playoff at home. (In '48, it was to the Indians.)
November 13, 1978, Yankee Stadium. A year after letting the Sox sign Torrez, the Yanks turn the tables, and sign free agent pitcher Luis Tiant.
Tiant was, and remains, one of the most popular players in Sox history -- he is their "barbecue stand guy," the way Boog Powell is in Baltimore and Greg Luzinski is in Philadelphia -- and, with a 229-172 career record, a 1.199 WHIP and 2,416 strikeouts, is one of the best pitchers not in the Hall of Fame.
Was he a good pickup for the Yankees, even at age (we think) 38? Well, in 1979, he went 13-8 for a team that didn't do too well. He pitched a 2-hit shutout against the A's that included a grounder that went up the middle, right to his foot, which he kicked up and caught, and threw to 1st for an out. But in 1980, age finally caught up with him, and he was just 8-9, and his ERA went up by a full run. The Yanks chose not to re-sign him after that. Still, he pitched 2 more seasons in the majors before hanging 'em up.
Although his Yankee teammates liked him, and he has occasionally returned to New York for Old-Timers' Day, and had some of his best years in Cleveland, it's easy to forget now that he played for anyone other than the Red Sox.
When the Yanks fell apart in 1979, the Sox were unable to take advantage: They won 91 games, but that was 11 behind the Orioles.

September 14, 1980, Fenway Park. The Yankees complete another 4-game sweep on the Sox' turf: 8-5 in 10 innings, 4-2, 4-3 and, today, 5-3. They now lead the AL East by 5 games over the Orioles, and will end up winning 103, with the O's winning 100 and, without a Wild Card, missing the Playoffs.

The Sox? They finished the season only 83-79, and, through a bureaucratic mixup, they let Carlton Fisk and Fred Lynn get away after the season.

Part IV follows.