Friday, April 24, 2009

Game Sixteen: Athens V. Sparta, Take I

So what's with all this Red Sox-Yankee stuff?

One hundred and five years ago (literally-1904), when the teams were called the Highlanders and the Americans, Yankee pitcher Jack Chesbro threw a wild pitch in a late season game that gave the championship to Boston, and for the next hundred and five seasons, Boston and New York have done battle.

The rivalry didn't really develop spice until 1920, when George Herman "Babe" Ruth, probably still the most famous baseball player who ever lived, was sold by the Red Sox to the Yankees. Folklore tells you that it was to fund a Broadway show, "No No Nanette", but more recent investigations have questioned this idea.

Ruth, of course, went on to become the most famous baseball player who ever lived, and Boston, who had won 5 World Series titles between 1903 (the first year of the World Series) and 1918, would take 86 years to win another, the famed campaign of 2004.

The rivalry had some real potency during the 1970s, when Red Sox-Yankee games resulted in actual fighting on the field, and two teams and fan bases that had some genuine animosity for one another. Since the 2004 crown, the rivalry has cooled somewhat-more of a genuine respect and fear than a full force loathing the way it used to be.

For the first time this year, the Yankees and Red Sox meet in Boston, facing off with identical 9-6 records.

I got home in time to see a series of unfortunate events (a Jeter line drive into the right field corner that JD Drew just missed, a bunt by Johnny Damon that Hideki Okajima bungled, a jam shot by Big Tex into center that fell in for a hit, and a tumbling catch in right by Jason Bay off of the bat of Robinson Cano) that scored two runs to open up a 4-2 lead for the Yankees in the top of the seventh inning.

The bottom of the seventh resulted in a routine 0 for Boston, (I'm learning from the announcers that Boston has hit into FOUR double plays tonight, which is a serious buzzkill) and the top of the 8th resulted in a 0 for New York.

Somehow you KNEW this game was going to wind up causing gastrointestinal discomfort. Boston has the bottom of the order coming up in the 8th, and then, of course, for the bottom of the ninth, we have to face Enter Sandman. It's not that we've never come back to win against Rivera, but it's still damn hard, even so.

Boston threatened but did not score in the 8th, and the Yankees did the same in the top of the ninth.

There's a reason why these games take 6 1/2 hours to play.

So it's on to the ninth, down two runs against arguably the greatest closer of the modern era.

Ortiz strikes out swinging for the first out, then Our Man Youk rips a single right back through the box, nearly taking Rivera's head off. Drew breaks his bat and dribbles a grounder to second for the second out.


Joy, rapture, tumult.

And Mike Lowell lines a single into short left field!

Jonathan Van Every, another entry in the Red Sox Players Whose Names Sound Like US Presidents Club, in to run for Lowell.

Oh Captain My Captain, Jason Varitek, strikes out swinging, and we're into extra innings.


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the history. I knew about the Babe thing and the curse. But I did not know the original names and where it all began. Fascinating!


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