Ranking Most Dramatic Moments of the Alex Rodriguez vs. Boston Red Sox Rivalry
Few players in baseball have a way of getting a rise out of their competitors the way Alex Rodriguez does, and few rivalries in sports are as spirited as the one between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.
When you put the two together, well, it can create a volatile situation, one capable of delivering dramatic moments when you least expect it.
Anyone who wasn't sure of that need only check the highlights from Sunday night's series finale between the Red Sox and Yankees, where Rodriguez was involved with not one, but two dramatic moments.
With nine years under his belt as a member of the Yankees, A-Rod has had plenty of moments against the Red Sox that are worthy of being included on this list.
Let's take a look at the most dramatic.
6. A-Rod Blows Up Jonathan Papelbon's Spot
After taking a 5-0 first-inning lead against Boston at Yankee Stadium on May 17, 2010, the Yankees watched the Red Sox chip away at their advantage before putting three runs on the board in the top of the eighth inning to take a 9-7 lead.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, with Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon on the mound and Brett Gardner on third base, Alex Rodriguez crushed the first pitch that he'd see into the left-center field stands for a game-tying, two-run home run.
Three batters later, Marcus Thames won the game for the Yankees with a line-drive, two-run shot down the left field line.
5. A-Rod Beats Curt Schilling
With the Yankees and Red Sox tied at six heading into the top of the ninth inning, Boston manager Terry Francona sent Curt Schilling out to face the heart of New York's lineup in his new role as a reliever on July 14, 2005.
It marked the first time since he was a member of the Houston Astros in 1991 that Schilling came out of the bullpen, a span of 13 years in which he became one of the most dominant starters in the game.
Things didn't go well for him.
After giving up a leadoff double to Gary Sheffield, Rodriguez deposited Schilling's first pitch over the bleachers in left-center field for a two-run blast that wound up being the game-winning hit, giving the Yankees an 8-6 lead that they would not relinquish.
4. A-Rod Chooses the Red Sox! Oh Wait, A-Rod Chooses the Yankees!
Often the forgotten element of the A-Rod vs. Boston Red Sox rivalry, the polarizing slugger was once almost part of the curse-breaking team of 2004—or perhaps he'd have perpetuated the cycle.
A-Rod, who seems poised to fight for every single penny owed to him at the moment, even offered to take a pay cut to head to Beantown in exchange for Manny Ramirez.
Bud Selig eventually nixed the deal, and soon after A-Rod signed with the Yankees and gave us this quote, "I still feel like someone's going to pinch me and wake me up," per the Associated Press (via ESPN). Oh how quickly things can change.
Once viewed as a dark day in Red Sox land, I'd say losing out on A-Rod looks more and more like a gift in 2013.
3. Well, That Escalated Quickly
On July 23, 2004, Alex Rodriguez drove in the go-ahead and eventual winning run for the Yankees in the top of the ninth inning, smacking a line-drive single to left field off of Boston's Keith Foulke to give his team an 8-7 lead.
The following day, with Bronson Arroyo toeing the rubber for the Red Sox, Rodriguez stepped to the plate in the top of the third inning with two outs, nobody on and the Yankees holding a 3-0 lead. Arroyo drilled A-Rod with the pitch, and Rodriguez has more than a few choice words for Boston's starter, dropping f-bombs like they were going out of style.
Rodriguez and Arroyo continued to chirp at each other as he walked slowly toward first base, with Boston catcher Jason Varitek alongside him, trying to keep the irate A-Rod from getting to Arroyo. Rodriguez and Varitek then exchanged words, with Boston's captain reportedly saying, "We don't throw at .260 hitters."
That was enough for Rodriguez, who went after Varitek, sparking a nasty bench-clearing brawl between the two clubs that, in the long history of their storied rivalry, may have only been matched in nastiness by the Pedro Martinez-Don Zimmer incident in the 2003 ALCS.
Little did we know that there was more acrimony to come between Arroyo and Rodriguez later in the season.
2. A-Rod Strikes Back
Boston can deny it all it wants, but Ryan Dempster absolutely meant to hit Alex Rodriguez with a pitch in the second inning of Sunday night's game between the Red Sox and Yankees.
When you throw four consecutive pitches inside—including one where the batter has to jump out of the batter's box to avoid getting hit—you are absolutely trying to hit him with a pitch.
Even some of the announcers on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball could see what home plate umpire Brian O'Nora either couldn't—or wouldn't—acknowledge: that Dempster was throwing at A-Rod and should have been ejected from the game.
Instead, O'Nora warned both teams, causing Yankees manager Joe Girardi to lose his mind and get tossed, but not before he let O'Nora hear it and yelled what we can imagine were some not-so-friendly things in Dempster's direction.
But it was Rodriguez who had the last laugh, crushing a 1-0 pitch from Dempster in the top of the sixth inning 446 feet into straightaway center field for a solo home run. He even made sure to glance in Dempster's direction as he rounded the bases.
When he got to home plate, A-Rod did his best David Ortiz impersonation, clapping his hands together and pointing towards the sky, garnering a loud response from the Fenway faithful.
Rodriguez finished the game 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI and runs scored as the Yankees would win by a score of 9-6.
1. The Slap Heard 'Round the World
By the time Alex Rodriguez stepped to the plate in the bottom of the eighth inning of Game 6 in the 2004 ALCS, the New York Yankees were desperately trying to avoid what everyone saw coming: The greatest comeback—or collapse, depending on your point of view—in baseball history.
The Yankees had blown a 3-0 lead in the series and were trailing 4-2 in Game 6 when Rodriguez dug in against Boston's Bronson Arroyo with one out and Derek Jeter on first.
A-Rod hit a weak grounder off the end of the bat in between the mound and first base, which Arroyo fielded. He attempted to tag Rodriguez, who proceeded to slap the ball out of the pitcher's glove. As the ball rolled into right field, Jeter motored around the bases, scoring from first and cutting Boston's lead to in half.
Except Boston manager Terry Francona argued and the umpires reversed the call, citing runner interference, and the run came off of the board, leaving Rodriguez stunned, as he told reporters after the game.
"I know that line belongs to me and he was coming at me. Once I reached out and tried to knock the ball, the call went against me. I should have just run over him."
Never one to be left speechless, Boston first baseman Kevin Millar offered A-Rod some career advice: "That's against the rules. If you want to play football, strap on some pads and go play for the Green Bay Packers."
The rest, as they say, is history. Boston not only staged the greatest comeback in baseball history, but went on to break the "Curse of the Bambino" and won the team's first World Series championship since 1918.