Let me start off with a fair warning to you readers: if you're a Red Sox fan, this probably isn't the article for you. It's just a bit biased towards the Yankees and it might just put you in a bad mood. So just move on.
It's no secret that the Yankees and Red Sox engage in some exhausting affairs, with the average game running around four hours. Fortunately for us fans, these marathons provide the best baseball and most intriguing moments of each season. And with the final meeting of the regular season occurring this weekend, there's no better time to look back on some of the best games of the recent past.
This slideshow takes a look at what I believe to be the 10 most exciting victories of the past decade for the New York Yankees (including 2000.) Some were walk-off wins and some provided entry for the Yanks into the playoffs, but all proved to be extremely exciting contests.
Let's get to it.
Remember when Randy Johnson was on the Yankees? He wasn't exactly a hit with the press, but even though he never lived up to the lofty expectations, he still delivered a couple of solid seasons with the Bombers. And this game probably was one of the highlights of his time.
For all the bad things said about Johnson, he ended up beating the Red Sox five times in 2005, including the 8-4 victory to clinch the division. This was as hard fought a race as ever before, since the Yanks were attempting to put the 2004 ALCS debacle far, far behind them.
Gary Sheffield and Alex Rodriguez, two huge names that did not perform in the playoffs the previous year, each delivered a home run to silence the Fenway crowd.
Unfortunately, the Yanks would fall to those damn Angels in the Division Series, and even though the Red Sox won the Wild Card, they didn't make it past the first round either.
In 2009, the Yankees walked off 15 times during the regular season, and the pie in the face was created. So clearly in 2010, they missed those celebrations a whole lot. And that's where Marcus Thames enters.
Thames wasn't a part of the team in 2009, but he was a Yankee at the beginning of his career. Remember, he's the guy that got up for his first Major League at-bat, faced Randy Johnson, and hit a home run.
On this night, the Yanks were once again battling the Sox in a see-saw affair. After tough goings for pitchers on both sides, Papelbon entered the ninth inning to protect a two-run lead. Unfortunately for him, the Yankees had other ideas.
A-Rod hit a two-run homer to tie things up, and then two batters later, Thames had his moment of glory. And his pie-in-the-face. And a crazy 11-9 pinstripe victory.
After missing the playoffs in 2008, there was plenty of hope for the Yankees. Brian Cashman entered the Winter Meetings with a wad of bills adding up to about $500 million, and he was told to spend it all. CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett were wooed to New York, and a couple of weeks later, Mark Teixeira joined the ranks to become the new No. 3 hitter.
For the 2009 Yankees, however, the pressure couldn't be higher.
Therefore, I'm sure it came as a major relief to the team when they were able to beat the Red Sox by a score of 4-2 under the lights of a magnificent new stadium. It comes as no surprise that Andy Pettitte was the man to get the win, tossing six strong innings. For Pettitte, it was the beginning of a playoff run that saw him when every clinching game in every series.
This was also the year when A-Rod would emerge from the playoff slump that haunted him for years and starting crushing the ball when it mattered. And if he can repeat that performance in 2011, it will go a long way towards the drive for a 28th World Championship.
If Moose was able to nail down that final strike, there is no doubt this would be very high on the list.
Actually, we can't blame Mussina in this instance. He retired 26 batters in a row before setting his sights on Carl Everett. After getting two strikes on the pinch hitter, Moose threw a pitch up in Everett's eyes. Somehow, Carl was able to get on top of the ball and line it into center field. Even worse, before that at-bat Everett was a mere 1-for-8 against Moose, with seven strikeouts.
Nonetheless, Mussina still picked up a shutout win and the Yankees prevailed, 1-0. Ironically, the man who held the Yankees in check until the ninth inning is somewhat of a familiar name: David Cone. He is no stranger to perfect games, and I'm sure he was rooting for Moose during that bottom half.
I'm pretty sure Mussina is still shocked at how Everett got to that high fastball.
AJ Burnett threw 7 2/3 shutout innings in this game, so you know it didn't happen in the past couple of seasons. The Yanks and Sox had one of their usual exhausting games, except this one was a bit different than the others: 14 innings and five and a half hours in, and no one scored a run.
After not making the playoffs for the first time in 14 years in 2008, the Yankees were clinging to a division lead going into this four game set against their fiercest rivals. This instant classic set the tone for the rest of the series, as the Bombers went on to sweep the Sox out of town.
A-Rod's home run marked only the fifth time in history that a scoreless game ended in the 15th inning or later with a walk-off tater. Alfredo Aceves tossed three scoreless innings towards the end of the game, which earns him an unsung hero award.
Thanks to this series, the Yanks were able to stay in first place and keep it for the duration of the regular season.
In one of the biggest victories in major league history, the Yankees went to town on their rivals, piling on 22 runs in one hell of a slugfest. Surprisingly, the game was only a 6-1 affair until the eighth inning, and that is when the real bloodshed began.
Home runs were hit by Jeter, Shane Spencer, and Scott Brosius late in the game as the Yanks scored nine in the eighth and seven in the ninth. Bernie Williams and Paul O'Neill contributed with a few hits apiece, and the team went on to win another division title.
This was the third year in a row the Yanks won the World Series, making it one of the last years of the great dynasty of the late 90s.
Oh Pedro Martinez, you always bring out the best in people.
Many people don't remember the actual result of the game, in which the Yankees prevailed 4-3. Also, in the ninth inning Karim Garcia jumped the fence and went after some rowdy Red Sox fans in the outfield seats. All of that, however, is overshadowed by Pedro and Zimmer.
Martinez threw at Garcia in the fourth inning and plenty of words were exchanged. Pedro pointed at the Yankee dugout and then at his head, and if to say, "Don't tempt me or I'll throw the ball right at your face."
Then Clemens took the mound in the bottom of the inning and threw a high pitch to Manny Ramirez. Looking back at it, the pitch was nowhere close to his head, but emotions were running so high that the location didn't really matter. A brawl started, Don went at Pedro, and we all know how the rest of the story goes.
No one got ejected, as the umpires did what they could to keep that from happening in a playoff game. The Yanks were able to get the best of the Red Sox, in the game and the series.
In the midst of yet another tight division race, the Bombers flew to Boston for an extended five-game series due to a previous rain delay. At the beginning of the series, only a game and a half separated the two teams.
August 21, 2006 featured the late Cory Lidle (may he R.I.P.) and the former Yankee strike-throwing machine known as David Wells. The game was a pitcher's duel, with neither team scoring a run until the Bombers pushed one across in the sixth. Another run came across for the Yanks on a wild pitch in the eighth, but the Red Sox responded with a run in the bottom of the inning.
With Rivera getting the day off, Kyle Farnsworth was the man to lock down the save and give the Yankees five-straight wins against Boston at Fenway Park. On Thursday, New York's lead was 1 1/2. By the end of Monday, it was 6 1/2. The Red Sox never recovered and the Yanks took the AL East that year.
Unfortunately, they once again fell in the Division Series, this time to Joel Zumaya and the Detroit Tigers.
No one embodies the heart of the New York Yankees more than Derek Jeter, and this picture shows why.
Jeter, knowing that the game was on the line in extra innings, never once thought about slowing down while chasing a little flair down the left field line. Jeter caught the ball but couldn't stop the momentum, and he went flying into a seat in the second row. He exited the game bloody and bruised, but it gave the Yankees the drive to win the game 5-4 in 13 innings.
The unlikely hero in the end was John Flaherty. After Manny hit a homer in the top of the inning, the first two outs were recorded in the bottom of the 13th fairly easily. But then, Ruben Sierra hit a single and good old Luis Sojo doubled to right center, scoring Sierra. Flaherty followed up with a shot to deep left field to end the game.
This game can also be remembered from a Red Sox standpoint as one of the last games for Nomar Garciaparra in that uniform. The camera shot to him multiple times sitting on the bench, while the rest of the team was up against the rail.
It was an instant classic, and it's a game that is still replayed often on the YES network.
I'm sure this choice for number one comes as a real shocker to everyone.
Actually, this is one of those moments in Yankee history when you remember exactly where you were when Boone hit that first pitch from Tim Wakefield deep into the left field seats. I watched it in my living room, and that was followed by plenty of jumping around the house. I wasn't the only one.
The raw emotion surrounding this game is something that is very rarely duplicated. Special props go to Mike Mussina and Jason Giambi; the former pitched three shutout innings when Clemens collapsed, and Giambi hit two home runs in the middle innings when the Yankee offense wasn't doing much of anything against Pedro.
Then, of course, is Grady Little. I'm sure the man had a very successful career, but unfortunately he will only be remembered as the guy who left Pedro in the game. The Yanks scored three in the eighth, Rivera pitched three shutout innings, and the stage was set for Boone.
The weirdest part? Jeter basically predicted this beforehand, saying to Boone that the gods would show their faces eventually.
If we didn't watch that game, I'm not sure if people would think it was real.
In terms of the New York Yankees, these are the top 10 victories that occurred in the past decade. One thing is for sure: for years and years, the Yankees and Sox will continue to engage in extremely exciting battles.
The best part about the rivalry is just how close every single inning of every game turns out to be. Some games see the Yankees on top, while some see the Red Sox prevail. The final series between the two teams is this weekend, and even though the Yanks have already clinched the AL East, I'm sure we will still see some close games anyway.
Thanks for reading.