June 4, 2009


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LONGSHOTS: The Mt. Rushmores of the Red Sox-Yankees Rivalry
by Dave Long

With the upcoming series with the Yanks at Fenway still five days away, I’m caught between a rock and a hard place. If I write this now, most will see it with the Rangers series going on so it won’t be timed quite right. But if I wait until next issue, chances are many will see this after they leave town. What to do? OK — we’ll go today with the latest offering from my ongoing fascination with the “Mt. Rushmore of sports” concept, with this entry being the Mt. Rushmore of All Things Red Sox–Yankees.

The Mt. Rushmore of Greatest Fielding Plays: 1. Yaz 1967. An over-the-shoulder diving catch the day Billy Rohr pitched 8.2 of no-hit ball in his major league debut with the great Ken Coleman call, “and Yastrzemski makes a TREMONDOUS catch!!!!!. 2. Lou Piniella 1978. In the playoff game, stabbed a Jerry Remy shot to right that he’d lost in the sun, preventing Rick Burleson from going to third where he’d have tied it on a Jim Rice fly out a batter later. 3. Fred Lynn 1975. A diving, bases-loaded, rally-killing catch that took a divot the size of Rhode Island that sealed the Yanks’ fate that year. 4. Derek Jeter 2004. The famous head-first dive into the seats on a blooper that left him dazed and shaken but still holding the ball. 

The Mt. Rushmore of Cliff Claven-Like Little Known Facts: 1. Williams out-hit Joe D. It’s true: he hit .417 to Joe D’s .408 during the famous 56-game streak in 1941 despite being hitless in 10 games. 2. Yaz is a New Yorker. Yup — born and bred on LI, where he once scored 60 in a high school basketball game. 3. Dick Radatz owned Mickey Mantle. By the Mick’s admission he couldn’t hit The Monster, who struck him out 75 percent of the time. 4. Williams and Casey: The only other person inducted the day Williams went in the Hall of Fame in 1966 was Casey Stengel.

The Mt. Rushmore of Cross-Over Players: 1. The Babe. He’d have won 300, maybe 350, if he’d stayed a pitcher in Boston. 2.  Mike Torrez. Moving over in 1978 changed history. 3. Luis Tiant. This didn’t hurt just because the Yanks gained a 17-game-winning free agent and the Sox lost one in 1979, but he was beloved by the Nation. 4. Elston Howard in 1967. He only hit .142 in 42 games after joining them down the stretch, but his experience in countless Yankees pennant races helped them win.

The Mt. Rushmore of Excruciating Losses: 1. Aaron Boone in 2003. Many say it’s Dent in ’78, but I’ve never seen such anguish from any loss ever. I knew people who could barely talk and callers to WEEI sounded like they’d lost a family member. 2. Bucky Bleeping in 1978 — I didn’t say it wasn’t bad, just not the worst of the worst. 3. 1949 — A one-game lead with two to play at home and they lost both thanks to a great series from Joe DiMaggio. 4. The Boston Massacre in 1978. It’s four games really, but it climaxed the collapse of a 14-game lead, and the beating was so thorough it just seemed like one long game that lasted the weekend.

The Mt. Rushmore of Yankee Villains: Impossible to narrow down to four, but here goes. 1. Billy Martin. I was in the bleachers with a perfect view when he and Reggie went at it in the dugout. Few moments have been better for the Fenway faithful. 2. A-Rod. Jilting the team in ’04, the Varitek fight, slapping the ball from Arroyo’s glove and now steroids. He’s got it all. 3. Roger Clemens. Never a better moment for me than when he was so scared stiff he got knocked out of the box in a 14-4 loss to Pedro in the 1999 playoffs. 4. George Steinbrenner. I know he’s ill and it doesn’t seem right, but neither does leaving the omnipresent Yankees owner off the list after saving the rivalry from its boring 1955-to-1972 self. Toughest Omission – Thurman Munson. He and Fisk personified the acrimony of the 1970s edition.

The Mt. Rushmore of Yankees-Red Sox Fights: 1. Jason Varitek and A-Rod in 2004. Not the most vicious, but it sparked an underachieving team to its greatest glory. 2. Fisk and Munson in 1973. This was vicious. Fisk hated Munson and vice versa. It happened on a botched suicide squeeze leaving Munson one option — to run over Fisk, who tagged him in the face with the ball to make sure he knew he was out. 3. Fisk and Lou Piniella in 1976. Fisk in the middle again after a play at the plate. But Sweet Lou was an afterthought after burly Yankees back-up Otto Velez took on half the team like King Kong at the Empire State Building warding off the planes. Plus Mickey Rivers was sucker-punching guys from outside the pile and Bill Lee separated his shoulder at the bottom of the pile. 4. Rico Petrocelli and Joe Pepitone. A wild slugfest after a play at second base broken up by a cop on the field who happened to be Rico’s brother.

The Mt. Rushmore of Exhilarating Wins: 1. Game 4 in 2004 vs. Yanks. Dave Roberts steals, Bill Mueller knocks him in to tie it and Papi homers to win it as they got off the deck after a humiliating Game Three loss to start the greatest comeback ever. 2. Game 6 in 2004 vs. Yanks. Curt Schilling’s The bloody sock game is baseball’s Willis Reed moment. 3. Game 5 in 2004 vs. Yanks. Papi wins it again. 4. Game Seven 2004 vs. NY. The clincher being fourth best is weird, but it was a blow-out and a near foregone conclusion after overcoming so much already. All four in the same series? Hey, there ain’t that many and all felt pretty good, didn’t they?

The Mt. Rushmore of Craziest Fan Things in The Rivalry: 1. The Pedro–Zimmer fight. A surreal and out-of-control day. 2. Chucking Cherry Bombs at Mickey Rivers in 1976. This followed his sucker-punching Bill Lee during a brawl a week earlier. 3. Jackson–Martin Dugout Fight in 1977 – Fenway loved that one. 4. Bill Weidacher waves over Mike Torrez. At a 2006 party in Boston the local real estate mogul asks the big righty if he’s ready to admit he messed up by not taking extra warm-up tosses when Dent went back to get a new bat in ’78. To which Torrez looks at me and asked, “Who is this [blanking] guy”?

If I’ve left some out, or you have better choices or some of your own categories, send them along and I’ll run them the next time the Yanks and Sox get together.

Dave Long can be reached at dlong@hippopress.com. He hosts Dave Long and Company from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday on WGAM – The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM Nashua.

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4/30/2009 Tanked from the headlines, the Fenway series yanks it back
4/23/2009 Draft winds blow NFL teams to make interesting decisions
4/16/2009 Spring cleaning of a cluttered sports mind
4/9/2009 Red Sox Nation springs back to life
4/2/2009 Climbing sports Mt. Rushmore
3/26/2009 Mount Rushmore offerings and other spring thoughts
3/19/2009 B-Ball, Coach B and Baseball in the mailbag today
3/12/2009 Great talent a rush but not all it's cracked up to be
3/5/2009 In Bill we still trust?
2/26/2009 A mountain over this molehill
2/19/2009 Steroids muscle in on game's strength
2/12/2009 Bonner bombs away on Cs in garden party homecoming
2/5/2009 Nation's angst ends as V-Tek says what the heck and rejoins flock
1/29/2009 Super Bowl Sunday brings to mind past and present
1/22/2009 The elusive quality of greatness is the topic of the day
1/15/2009 Spring cleaning of the sports mind a little early
1/8/2009 Will hall have Rice on the menu come July
1/1/2009 Predictions and wants for the year ahead
12/25/2008 A look in the rear view mirror at 2008
12/18/2008 The Pats' playoff run and new Yankees contracts make big news
12/11/2008 Random thoughts and associations
12/4/2008 Pats should consider options when it comes to Cassel and Brady
11/27/2008 Putting the thanks in Thanksgiving
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11/13/2008 Cassel's in the clouds compared to early expectations11/6/2008 Mail bag delivers some interesting questiont10/30/2008"Yankees Suck" - like mentality fuels political discontent10/23/2008 No ray of hope as season closes in Tampa Bay
10/16/2008 Going to the nines a thing of the past
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10/2/2008 "How come?" is the main question of the day
9/25/2008 Observations on baseball in 2008
9/18/2008 If I were a QB, a DB, a stat geek or a soccer mom ...
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8/28/2008 A race to the finish to take all month long
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7/31/2008 Manny being Manny - the sequel Part XXXII
7/24/2008 Open the mail bag for some Red Sox questions
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5/22/2008 Some questions for folks right up there in the front row
5/15/2008 Numbers don't add up to supposed Fenway
5/8/2008 Cavalier attitude nearly derails first meeting with LeBron
5/1/2008 I'm so old,I remember ...
4/24/2008 Sox Line-ups, Celtics and ESPN investigations are in the mail bag
4/17/2008 Show me the way to that All-Star Game
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4/3/2008 Bill James and the stats for 2008 — Take Two
3/27/2008 Drowning in the NCAA office pool
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2/28/2008 Celtics issues far from black and white in the early days
2/21/2008 Congressional ineptitude muscles in on steroid hearings
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2/7/2008 A giant win leaves Patriots fans feeling blue
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1/24/2008 Mail bag asks about Rice, the hall and wild-eyed liberals
1/17/2008 Peyton manning the fort back home as Pats take on Chargers
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9/13/2007 All round baseball week starts with a look at leaders
9/6/2007 It's Superbowl or bust for Pats in 2007
8/30/2007 The race is on as baseball enters September
8/23/2007 Spine vs. lack of spine theme for school board debate
8/16/2007 Time for thoughts from the summer mailbag
8/9/2007 Will this three make it big in Boston?
8/2/2007 Trading places all in a day's work for Boston GMs
7/26/2007 Getting out of a slump; an ameteur golfer can feel Sox' pain
7/19/2007 Does second chance guarantee a great outcome?
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6/28/2007 Rambling along with some random thoughts
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4/12/2007 A few questions for the sports gods
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3/1/2007 A trip to the mail bag for Hippo Sports
2/22/2007 Six degrees of Muhammed Ali
2/15/2007 Monarchs rule as streak reaches 12
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2/1/2007 Manning the Super Bowl watch more difficult in '07
1/25/2007 Winning and what else matters in college coaching
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12/28/2006 REcognizing the best on the national front
12/21/2006 Present under the tree for all
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12/07/2006 Lions and Gators and Bears, oh my
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11/23/2006 Turkeys and thanks as the big day arrives
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01/05/2006 Predictions for Manchester Sports 2031
A lesson for Leo the Lip and nice guys everywhere

Chop House opening is Berra of good news
Event-filled weekend missed en route to evil empire
Hero’s death lays to rest misuse of the word
Saint Theo ascends to new heights in The Nation
Santa sack filled to the brim with sports
Patriots march through injuries toward threepeat
Sports talk should be on the air
Stars shine brightest when winning is in the mix
The Demonization of Johnny Damon
Thirty-seven topics and so little space
Too many holes in Sox for repeat
Trip to the injured list makes it a long weekend for local scribe
Turkeys and giving thanks take center stage this week
Yanked from the edge of your seat