By D. Westphalen
Boston and New York, two cities which have had a rivalry since before the American Revolution, would obviously share many rivalries in sports, be it the Patriots and the Jets, or the Celtics and the Knicks, or even the Bruins and the Islanders. However, the undeniably biggest rivalry of them all would be that of the Red Sox and Yankees. Described as the “fiercest rivalry in all of America”, the Red Sox and Yankees are two teams which have been going head-to-head for over a century.
“The Rivalry” began in 1901, when the Boston Americans, now Red Sox, faced the Baltimore Orioles, who later became the New York Yankees. The Orioles took that game 10-6; ever since then, each team has won over 1,000 games against each other, in over 2,300 meetings.
Although they first played each other in 1901, many say that their rivalry only started in 1919, when Red Sox owner, Harry Frazee sold, already three-time champion, Babe “The Bambino” Ruth to the Yankees. Ruth would go on to win four more titles with Yankees. Many in Boston hated this move, as it heavily shifted the tides of their rivalry, as Boston suffered an 86-year period in which they did not win a single title, this was known to many as the “Bambino Curse”. Before 1919, the Red Sox had already won five titles, whilst the Yankees had none. However, by 2004, when the Red Sox finally won their sixth title, the Yankees already had a staggering twenty-six titles. Although the Red Sox didn’t win any titles from 1920-2003, they still had some memorable moments against the Yankees, including their matchups in the 1999 and 2003 ALCS, where the Yankees emerged victorious both times.
Even though the Yankees completely dominated the Red Sox through most of the 20th century, the Red Sox have taken the upper hand ever since their 2004 ALCS matchup. In 2004, the Yankees and the Red Sox faced off in the American League Championship Series, for the second year in a row. Due to the excitement of the 2003 ALCS, many thought that the 2004 ALCS would be just as heated and intense, however it didn’t start off as a heated matchup with the Yankees winning the first three games of a seven-game series – they only needed one more to reach the World Series. Suddenly, the Red Sox pulled off the impossible and won the next four games to win the series 4-3 and became the only team in Major League history to come back from a 3-0 deficit in a playoff series. The Red Sox went on to win it all against the St. Louis Cardinals in just four games that year. Ever since that key matchup the Red Sox have absolutely dominated the rivalry, winning three more titles, including the historic 2013 championship run.
Through the years the rivalry has grown into more than just the game of baseball. Kids growing up in Boston and New York have learned to always dislike each other, similar to how Brazilians and Argentinians do. It has gotten to a point where one can go into any stadium in Boston, even a Boston Bruins’ hockey game against the Florida Predators, and I guarantee you that at some point people will shout “YANKEES SUCK”, the same way someone will insult the Red Sox at a New York Giants game; it has become part of their culture to hate one another. As a Red Sox fan, who grew up in Boston, I admit that I feel nauseous every time I see someone with a Yankees cap, which just proves how this rivalry has influenced generations.
Not only has the rivalry affected most fans, but it has had a huge impact on players. It isn’t uncommon that a fight would breakout during a Red Sox – Yankees game. Most recently, in 2018, during a Yankee’s 10-7 win, some Red Sox players began a brawl with the Yankee pitcher, and within seconds both teams were on the pitch fighting. The taunting continued later that year when they met in the playoffs during the divisional round, where Aaron Judge, New York’s star player began playing “New York, New York” in Boston after they won the first game of the series there. Fuelled by this taunting, the Red Sox beat the Yankees 16-1 during the next game, in the Bronx to hand them their worst ever post-season loss. The Red Sox also went on to win that series 4-1, and the World Series. This is just one of many examples of how impactful this rivalry has become.
Most recently, the Red Sox and Yankees faced off in the American League Wild Card game, after finishing the 2021 season with the exact same record after 162 games, truly showing the equilibrium in this rivalry. The Red Sox beat the Yankees, with a score of 6-2 and went on to upset the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS. Although, the Yankees dominated the rivalry during most of the 20th century, and the Red Sox had the upper hand during the last 20 years, both teams have always managed to put on a show whenever facing each other and playing at the top of their games, and they surely will for years to come.