Same old Red Sox-Yankees rivalry in new stadium

May 5, 2009

The last 773 games in the Bronx between the Yankees and bitter foes the Boston Red Sox had been played across 161st Street in a building that came to be known as “The House That Ruth Built”.

The latest instalment of U.S. sport’s best rivalry was played out Monday in the new $1.6 billion Yankee Stadium (“The House That George (Steinbrenner) Built”) and it is comforting to say that some things hardly change.

A cold, chill rain delayed the start of the contest for more than two hours. First pitch was at 9:22 p.m. First chant of “Boston Sucks” came at 9:24.

The Yankees, winners of an unapproached 26 World Series titles, had beaten Boston silly over their dynastic years as Lords of Major League Baseball.

The tide has turned, however, in the new millenium with a red circle around Boston’s unprecedented bounce back from an 0-3 deficit to the Yanks in the 2004 American League Championship Series that propelled the Beantowners to their first Fall Classic crown in 86 years.

Boston went on to win the World Series again in 2006, with the Yanks still hungering to add another championship banner next to the one that bears the year 2000.

The Red Sox continued the disturbing trend to pinstripe fans with a 6-4, nail-biting victory for a fourth straight win against the Yanks following a three-game sweep last month at Fenway Park.

The New Yorkers had won 484 times in the old Cathedral of Baseball that opened for business in 1923.

Emotions of the long night, a typically long three-hour, 48 minute grind of a game that ended at 1:10 a.m., spilled over on the field.

Yankee manager Joe Girardi was tossed in the fifth inning after a spirited argument with home plate umpire Jerry Meals, whose strike zone was giving Girardi indigestion. An inning earlier, Girardi was seen yelling from the dugout at Boston first base coach Tim Bogar.

Reporters suspected that there might be some stealing of catcher’s signs to the pitcher. Girardi, through gritted teeth, told his news conference after the game that it was just some “baseball business”. Red Sox outfielder JD Drew was later drilled with a pitch.

Late season turmoil in early May. The season felt like it had finally arrived.

Red Sox starter and winner Jon Lester said the new stadium reminded him of the old one, and that the fans helped to carry the old atmosphere into the new place.

“You run out to left field to get warmed up and you get booed and “You suck”. It’s fun,” Lester told reporters gathered at his locker after the game.

“A lot of other stadiums you don’t get that. You just don’t get the energy, the electricity. It’s fun. I’m glad they didn’t change that much to it. It’s an unbelievable place and I look forward to a lot more games.

“Both stadiums can get pretty loud. You’ve got your typical New York fans. You know you’re in New York. It looks very similar to the old park. They heckle you just the same in the bullpen. The fans get into it. You’d rather have it that way than people just sitting out their eating their hot dog and being quiet.”

PHOTO: Fans huddle in the stands as rain delays the start of the New York Yankees in their MLB American League baseball game against the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium in New York May 4, 2009. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine

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