My Favorite Moment in the Yankees/Red Sox Rivalry (A half assed audition)

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"Laundry. We’re rooting, we’re screaming about laundry here."

That was Jerry Seinfeld talking to David Letterman about why it’s inherently stupid to root for a team, because really, we’re just rooting for the uniform. It’s the kind of thing that sounds true, until you realize that he’s a Mets fan, and that unless he’s the kind of guy who likes smashing his genitals with a hammer, their admittedly nice looking uniforms really might be the only reason to watch.

The truth is that for a lot of us, it’s not laundry. You’re rooting for architecture. Specifically, you’re rooting for the architecture of your team’s stadium, where you spent hours with your dad, learning the game and all that Bob Costas sanctimonious drivel. You’re rooting for memories, and while the truly gigantic moments that stand out from your television set like Aaron Boone sending the Red Sox to hell, or Pedro getting serenaded "Who’s your daddy?" by 56,000 fans, are undeniably huge, the games you go to linger with you forever. Even the seemingly mundane games- the ones even the diehards will lose to time- can be the moments that stick with you, and the ones that you cite when you tell your wife "no, I’m not getting drunk with my shiftless friends at the ballpark. I’m documenting history."

My favorite moment of our endless rivalry with the Red Sox is not your favorite moment. It came during a season when the Yankees did not make the playoffs. It was simply the last game of a three game set in the Bronx. August 28, 2008: The last time the Boston Red Sox visited the old Yankee Stadium.

For a little context, you have to understand that I’ve never been surprised by a great unexpected moment at the stadium. In 1998 I came painfully close, as my brother’s Little League had offered family discounted tickets to a game. I declined, not wanting to ride a bus with 50 screaming 12 year olds, and ended up missing the David Wells perfect game. That missed opportunity taught me two things. One, some wounds never fully heal. And two, when you get the chance to buy tickets to things where the historical value is guaranteed, you jump on it. I snapped up tickets as they went on sale over the winter, and surprised my dad with them on the morning of the game. Later, as we ate breakfast I’d told him that my girlfriend wanted to take me to a birthday party at a Russian bathhouse, and that the picture on the invite made it look as if it was going to be a gangbang, which left him choking on his morning coffee. He’d never done that after hearing one of my smartass remarks, so clearly the tickets had gotten to him.

Much to my surprise, my dad confessed that it was the first Red Sox game he’d ever been to. I had cut my teeth hearing about his wild days in the 70’s, during the Son of Sam summer of 77 when he’d go to Yankee Stadium seemingly once a week, and had just assumed that he’d seen dozens of games against the hated Sox. But apparently that was not the case, and he’d just never gotten around to it before. He’d also never tried to get into Studio 54. My dad whiffed on some chances to live his best life. Fortunately I was there as an adult to pick up the slack.

I should be clear that this was not a great season. Despite a seemingly talented roster, our beloved Yankees had fallen out of contention to the Red Sox, and something called the Tampa Bay Rays, if you can believe that. Brian Cashman was being exposed as a fraud. Rookie manager Joe Girardi would obviously never win anything of importance. The biggest moment of the season was having Josh Hamilton light up the Home Run Derby, and much like Derek Jeter two years before with the MVP race, watch the significantly less cool Justin Morneau walk away with the glory anyway. There were fun pieces, but nothing seemed to fit together. Our future, Shelley Duncan, was injured in spring training by a bush league slide. Joba was going through growing pains as he transitioned to his rightful spot in the rotation. Chen-Ming Wang was adjusting to running on first base without shattering his ankle. There was some scrappy kid Brett Gardner getting a lot of time, and sure, he probably wasn’t going to amount to much, but it was still pretty cool seeing him live his dream.

As it turned out the game was pretty good. The Red Sox jumped out to a two run lead in the fifth, and I jumped out to a quick beer buzz, dreading the thought that the Sox would walk away from this cathedral of baseball with a three game sweep. The shocking number of Red Sox fans in our section were living the good life, and to tell the truth, nobody felt much like telling them they were wrong to feel that way. Instead, a good number of the crowd seemed to be preoccupied with saying goodbye. The mood was less of a baseball game, and more like the closing of a Broadway show.

And then fun loving Jason Giambi changed all of that by smashing a deep two run shot over the wall in death valley. Jason Giambi- presumably wearing his lucky gold thong- and rocking his glorious gentleman’s mustache brought us back from the dead, and we were finally showing signs of life against the Sox. I’m going to say this here: Jason Giambi never gets the shine he deserved. Everybody remembers Aaron Boone’s iconic Home Run against the Red Sox in 2003. Well guess what? He never gets to do that if Jason Giambi doesn’t hit two of his own that game. Jason Giambi was very cool and extremely fun, and I don’t care that he never won a World Series or that he got mixed up in the BALCO investigation. I’m glad we had him.

The game went into the 9th, when once again Jason Giambi struck again, this time not with a home run, but a walk off single. Ball game over. Yankees win. That Riverdancing tool Papelbon can suck it one last time. Mo got the win, if you were wondering.

Since then, there had been a few other moments. My uncle scored us padded seat tickets at the new stadium, to which my dad showed up wearing the reflective vest and greasy clothes from his job at the airport, which surely caused Randy Levine to void his bowels. Just this past April, we took a trip out to Fenway to watch Sonny Gray get pissed on. And we’ve spent hours texting each other through classic games. But to me, that game will be the one that sticks out, because unlike that stupid David Wells game, I was actually there.

It was a meaningless August game to most, and a footnote to history at best. But to me it was the last game that ever mattered at the old building.

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