Thursday, April 17, 2008

Round 4

Yankee Stadium has been the site of many great events throughout its 85 year history. Apart from baseball, it has been host to concerts by many entertainment legends and this Sunday will be the site of a mass to be conducted by the Pope. The sights and sounds associated with this stadium have brought millions to their feet, and will soon bring 57,000 to their knees.

But the one constant occurring throughout the years has been the battles between the Yankees and the various teams invading their home turf. Each year the Yankees have defended and protected their house like no other team in the history of the game. 26 times they have been crowned World Champions, far more than their closest competition. They have made themselves an empire, which to many not living under its protective roof, find to be the worst of all evils. Rich and powerful, the Yankees have been able to fend off all challengers with fists of fury, or at least of gold. However, beginning in 2004, there has been a large chink in the armor. The irritant that has eaten away at the aura of invincibility is the Boston Red Sox.

In a historic battle in the American League playoffs of 2004, the Red Sox recovered from a 3 to 0 deficit in games to win 4 straight games . With the last of these wins they ushered the Yankees out of the playoffs, created a new sense of power in the Boston franchise. The Sox went on to win the World Series in a 4 game sweep. Since then, they have repeated their World Series triumph with an equally impressive destruction of their National League opponent in 2007. The Red Sox have become what the Yankees have always been.

When the Red Sox played second fiddle to the Yankees, I did not hate them. I had an air of superiority ,certain that in the end, the Sox would be dispatched and sent home with head bowed. Until 2004 , the Red Sox had not won a World Series in 86 years. However, with the role reversal arising from the triumphs of the Red Sox over the last 4 years, my smugness has disappeared. It has now been replaced by a total disregard for everything Red Sox.

Thus, what had always been an interesting and entertaining spectacle between these 2 teams, has now taken on an added sense of urgency and depth. Each game played during the regular season is but one more attempt for the Yankees to try to wrest away from these upstarts the crown that has been stolen away. The Yankees and Red Sox play 18 regular season games against one another, 9 at each team's home stadium. Tickets to each of these games has long been a prize possession. Now it is like getting a seat at a championship fight.

Last night was Round 4 in this year's fight. The Red Sox had won 2 of the first 3 contests. The lone Yankee victory had come by way of the strong arm of their ace starter, Chien Ming Wang. In an unusual twist, Wang was now making consecutive starts against the same team, as the battle moved from Fenway Part to the Stadium.

What no one could have anticipated was that this was to be a game in which haymaker punches were thrown all night. Instead of a tense, low scoring affair, this was like Ali and Frazier throwing knockout punch after knockout punch. The Yankees delivered the first blow, scoring 3 runs in the first inning. The Sox hammered back and soon tied the score. The Yankees responded with 4 runs. Just as quickly, the Sox returned the favor , scoring 6 times. It was 9 to 7 Boston and you didn't know whether to laugh or cry. You were happy, then sad, then happy, then sad, and the game was only half over.

The Yankees immediately erupted for 4 runs to take an 11-9 lead. This finally seemed to deflate the Red Sox. After being knocked down repeatedly, they finally stayed on the canvas. Their bats went quiet, while the Yankees tacked on 4 more runs in a 15 to 9 win.

It was an exhausting and exhilarating evening. For the fans, it was worth every moment of pain, knowing that eventually we wore the enemy down. Yet it is only April 16th and there are 14 more regular season games against the Red Sox and 146 more regular seasons games in total. The season really is a marathon, and any true victory over the Red Sox will have to await the post season. But, on this night, it was a good beginning.


Anonymous said...

during the game the other night, one of the commentators said that boston is now the team to beat. this concerns me. while the game you are refering to was a great one, i prefer that the yankees pitch shut-outs and sweep every series again the soxs. how and when did we become the underdog?!?

Robert said...

the Yankees became underdogs when they did not have the real 'stud' starter who could shut down the other team in important post season series. That is why Beckett is so critical to the Red Sox success