Red Sox Memories: Jason Varitek and Alex Rodriguez brawl for it all

The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have never seen eye to eye, and their rivalry came to blows on one fateful afternoon in 2004.

It’s no secret that the Red Sox and Yankees have one of, if not, the biggest rivalry in all of sports. Some could even say that it dates back to the days of the American Revolution. We had the New Yorkers in the militia acting all cool and refined, meanwhile, the Boston militia members were crushing some ales and shouting, “YOU THINK YOU’RE BETTAH THAN ME,” at everyone else. It’s a tale as old as time.

In the early days of baseball, it was Boston that sat atop the throne until that awful day that saw Babe Ruth get shipped to the Big Apple. From that point on it was the Yankees staring down at the Red Sox time and time again. As the championships continued to pile up in New York it felt like there was this forcefield that prevented Boston from winning it all. That would all come to a head in 2004.

Before we get to 2004 we have to go back in time a few months back to the fall of 2003. The Red Sox and Yankees were deadlocked in the ALCS and were in a heated game seven. Then manager Grady Little left legendary ace, Pedro Martinez, in far too long and this would allow the Yanks to get back into the game. Fast forward to the bottom of the 11th inning and Aaron Boone hitting that freakin’ home run off of Tim Wakefield.

Once again the Yankees were heading to the Fall Classic while the Red Sox had to go back to Fenway and lick their wounds. Now, we all know how 2004 ended, but it was an event that happened earlier in the season that feels like it set the tone for October. On a warm summer day in July, the powder keg was not only lit, it exploded.

Bronson Arroyo was on the hill for Boston and everyone’s favorite Yankee, Alex Rodriguez, was in the box. Well, a pitch got away from the righty and plunked A-Rod as soft as a pitch ever hit a batter and he was none too thrilled.

Rodriguez would begin jaw-jacking Bronson and would even begin to turn to the mound when Jason Varitek would put a quick end to that. The future Red Sox captain would step between the hitter and pitcher, and would actually jab A-Rod with his mitt.

The benches would soon clear and Fenway Park would look like a night at the fights. This may not have had the peak dramatics of Pedro hitting Don Zimmer with that sweet ole move in ’03, but it had its moments. Hell, by the end of the brawl it looked like Gabe Kapler was a bull ready to mow down some goofs in Pamplona. Oh yeah, the Sox won the game, just wanted to toss that fact in.

It may not have been the most intense brawl or even moment in the Red Sox – Yankees rivalry, but it set the tone for the rest of the year. Boston would go on to take the Wild Card and get themselves positioned for a rematch with New York in the ALCS. Once again the heated foes would take things to the absolute limit and a game seven. However, this story has a bit of a different ending to it than the one told in 2003.

We all know what happens but it never hurts to talk about it, because it was pretty damn cool. Sox are down 3-0 and on life support until Mariano Rivera ran into his kryptonite in Bill Mueller in game four. Then it became the David Ortiz show as he decided that things weren’t going to end the way they had the previous fall.

Boston squeaked out three close wins in a row to bring the ALCS level and then we marched into Yankee Stadium for game seven. The Red Sox didn’t waste any time putting runs on the board and never once took their foot off the throat. A final score of 10-3 would see the Sox finally defeat their hated rivals and head back to the World Series.

A quick four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals would see Boston bury the Curse of the Bambino once and for all. Not only were they World Champions for the first time since they shipped of the Babe, but they earned that title by going through the Yankees. Beating the Yankees in the ALCS, in their home, then going on to win the World Series is perfection personified.

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The brawl between Tek and A-Rod may not have been consequential when all was said and done but it’s hard to deny it was a factor. Red Sox Nation will never forget that 2004 season as it was the campaign that changed everything. No longer were we the lovable losers, but finally we had our moment in the sun. We may have won the war in October, but that battle in July was the first of many victories.