Five years ago today …
There are moments that are frozen in a season, and others that are frozen for an entire era.
Think back to five years ago today. The date was July 24, 2004. The Red Sox had just come off an excruciating loss to the Yankees the night before, despite three home runs from Kevin Millar. Despite all the hype going into the season, they were entered the day 9 and a half games behind the Yankees in the American League East. And it was a rainy day. For a while, it looked like there would be no baseball game.
One or two Yankees had reportedly started showering, because apparently, the showers were going to wash away the game. But Jason Varitek, Millar and some other members of the team told ownership, in a manner of speaking, “Get that field ready to play. We want to play baseball today.”
The Red Sox had some fight in them. Bronson Arroyo hit Alex Rodriguez with a breaking pitch in the third inning and the rest, you see in history. A-Rod barked at Arroyo, hollering and taunting expletives. Varitek wasn’t in the mood. He told A-Rod to get the “choice word here” to first base. Next thing you know, the superstar of the Yankees and the captain of the Red Sox were jaw to jaw. Arms flailing toward each other. Varitek literally lifted A-Rod off the ground with his glove, and then, a melee ensued.
Still though, the Yankes took a 9-4 lead on the Sox as the middle innings wore on. But the Red Sox kept chipping away. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, bam. Bill Mueller hit a walkoff homer off Mariano Rivera. The Red Sox had planted a seed in the minds of the Yankees, their bullies for all those years.
By the end of October, they had turned the tables on the Yankees from 3-0 down in the ALCS and went on to win their first World Series in 86 years.
Varitek’s mitt in A-Rod’s face was simply a sign that the Red Sox weren’t going to take it anymore. It is one of those moments that won’t be forgotten. And now it is five years later, and the Yankees — though they now lead the AL East — are still trying to even the score.