The highly regarded Red Sox-Yankees rivalry really hasn't been much a rivalry at all.
The truth is, during the 86 years that Yankee Stadium has been open, the Yankees have virtually owned the Red Sox, going 483-284-4 at the venerated Stadium. But regardless of where the two teams played, the Yanks still hold the edge with a 994-778 all time record.
The Yankees 26 Championships are the most of any North American sports team. The Red Sox have won seven, and infamously suffered an 86-year drought between numbers 5 and 6.
Since 1920, the Yankees have won 39 pennants—the Red Sox won six. From Through an 85-year span, (from 1920-2004) the Yankees finished with a better record than the Sox 67 times. During the span, the Red Sox finished second in the standings only 13 times.
The point is, it really hasn't been much of a rivalry at all, folks.
Since the inception of the ALDS and the Wild Card format, the two clubs have squared off in the ALCS three times ('99, '03, '04.) The Yankees have won two of the three.
They have also met in the last series of a season to decide the division winner three times. The Red Sox won in 1904 and the Yankees won in 1949 and 2005. So, it took the Red Sox 100 years to beat the Yankees in a title-clinching game.
And then, of course, there was 1978, when the Sox blew a 14 1/2 game lead they established over the Yanks in mid-July. The two teams wound up with with identical 99-63 records, resulting in a one-game playoff on the season's final day.
Red Sox fans are all too familiar with the legend of Bucky "F*%&@*G" Dent, a shortstop with a grand total of 23 career homers over six previous seasons, who hit the game-winner into the screen above The Monster. With only four homers coming that season, he should have been called "Lucky."
The sad truth for Red Sox fans is that this supposed "rivalry" has led to many bad results. The Yankees were almost always the better team, beating up on the Sox mercilessly, year after year, decade after decade.
The 2004 season changed the Red Sox's fortunes. Boston has now won two World Series Championships in this decade (or century, or millennium) and the Yankees have won none. It's a nice feeling for Sox fans to finally experience the view from the top. It's a spot previously reserved for just the Yankees. Which is why winning the final series against the Yanks at the Stadium is so special.
As the record indicates, the "Bronx Zoo" has largely been a House of Horrors for the Red Sox. There have been few grand moments, the kind that are memorable to Sox fans for the right reasons. There was Pedro's 17-strike out, one-hit gem and, of course, Game-7 of the 2004 ALCS, which has got to be the single greatest moment on a very short list.
The Red Sox have had trouble in other team's ballparks all season, and hold a losing record of 34-37 on the road. But they have not lost a road series this month, winning four and splitting another.
Beating on the Yankees is just the icing on the cake.
The Sox are 16-8 since the July 31st trade deadline, when a certain dread-locked outfielder was shipped out of town.
The team's confidence has got to be sky-high right now. Embarrassing the Yankees in historic Yankee Stadium seems like a fitting, if unexpected, send-off.
The "House that Ruth Built" may be viewed as hallowed ground in the world of baseball, yet it has been anything but sacred for the Red Sox. The Sox were the first opponent, and the first victim, in the inaugural game at Yankee Stadium on April 18, 1923.
For the Red Sox, trouncing the Yankees, winning their final series at the Stadium, and extinguishing any last hopes the Yanks had of making the playoffs, is quite fitting. It's what's referred to as "poetic justice."
Historically speaking, it's just the kind of thing one would expect the Yankees to be doing to the Red Sox. Oh, how the tables have turned since 2004.
Copyright © 2008 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.