It has been 11 years since the Red Sox became the first and only team in Major League Baseball history to overcome an 0-3 series deficit and dispatch their hated rival, the New York Yankees, from the ALCS in seven games. If there’s one day a year when it’s perfectly acceptable to put on some flannel pajamas and quaff some scotch while watching Four Days in October on repeat in a darkened room, it’s today, Sox fans.
Still stinging from a Game 7 walk-off loss against the Yanks in the ALCS the previous year, the 2004 Red Sox sought revenge, blazing a 98-campaign through the regular season after picking up ace Curt Schilling in the offseason. After sweeping the Anaheim Angels, the Sox set their sights back on New York.
The Yankees won the first two games in the Bronx before heading to Fenway Park, where the Sox received an embarrassing 19-8 drubbing. Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy famously quipped, “The final score was 19-8. Might as well have been 19-18,” referring to Boston’s last World Series title in 1918 and the seemingly endless championship drought that followed.
But the Sox bounced back, taking the next two games at Fenway, both in extra innings. Widely regarded as the series’ turning point, Yankees closer Mariano Rivera walked Kevin Millar in the ninth inning of Game 4. Dave Roberts pinch-ran for Millar and stole second, putting him in scoring position for Bill Mueller’s RBI single. Rivera, once thought invincible, blew the save.
Game 6, arguably most famous for being Schilling’s “bloody sock game,” also gave Sox fans another in a litany of reasons to hate Alex Rodriguez. In the eighth inning, A-Rod grounded a ball to pitcher Bronson Arroyo, who scooped it up and tried to tag him out. Instead, Rodriguez slapped the ball out of Arroyo’s hand.
The umpires ruled Rodriguez out for interference, prompting a deluge of trash and debris to rain down on the field at Yankee Stadium. The Sox would hold on to win, 11-6.
Boston walloped New York 10-3 in Game 7, and at 12:01 a.m. on October 21, 2004, Rubén Sierra grounded a ball to Sox secondbaseman Pokey Reese, who tossed it to Doug Mientkiewicz for the final out, completing the legendary comeback. The Red Sox would go on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals and end their 86-year championship drought.
Eleven years later, the rivalry sure isn’t what it used to be. This year’s Sox finished in the basement of the AL East, while the Kansas City Royals bounced the Yankees in the first round of the postseason. Skipper Terry Francona now manages the Cleveland Indians, who handed the 2015 Red Sox their final loss of the season. General manager Theo Epstein is at the helm of the Chicago Cubs, who stand a chance to end their own 107-year World Series drought. The Sox retired Martinez’s number this year upon his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Schilling, now an ESPN baseball analyst, has periodically landed himself in hot water for posting the sort of Islamophobic memes you’d expect from your racist uncle (oh, and that whole video game thing). Series MVP David Ortiz, as Torii Hunter is acutely aware, is still very much around.
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