(Open Writer Position Submission)
2006 is a bit of a forgotten year in Yankee history. The team won 97 games in the regular season but were unexpectedly and quickly bounced from the playoffs in the ALDS by a Tiger team that won just 71 games the year prior but would end up making a run as AL champions.
The rotation was lead by Randy Johnson, who in a mediocre second season in pinstripes would be revealed to have been pitching with a herniated disc. Not great for a man pitching in his 40s. Chien-Ming Wang co-led the MLB in wins (tied with AL Cy Young winner Johan Santana) and looked to be on his way to being the ace of the future (his career is the prime example why pitchers shouldn’t hit). Mike Mussina would eventually reach the 2,500 strikeout milestone in June.
Other Yankee constants from years past would be there as well such as Derek Jeter, 2005 rookie of the year runner-up Robinson Cano, Jorge Posada, ex-MVPs Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez as well as Bernie Williams in his swan song.
However, in the winter before the season the Yankees would make a shocking offseason acquisition by signing one of the ultimate fan favorites in Boston, Johnny Damon. He wasn’t exactly the quintessential Yankee player with his caveman persona that featured his long hair and beard. The year before he would even say he’d never be a Yankee and that he didn’t need the money they would offer. Well when Scott Boras is your agent all that talk goes out the window because the Yankees were willing to offer just an extra year to the roughly $13 million/3 years that Boston was offering. Johnny would be a fixture in the Yankees lineup for years to come and even become a fan favorite in New York as well, and part of that has to do with one series at Fenway in late August.
Due to a series of rainouts earlier in the season, the rivalry would take on a 5 game in 4 day series at Fenway in August. The Yankees would be coming off a home series loss to the Orioles and only 1.5 games up in the division over a Boston. This series had the potential to lead us into September in an all-time classic pennant race, adding another layer to the rivalry. It would add another layer, but not due to a late season race. The Yankees would take all 5 games in Fenway and runaway with the division, starting an absolute meltdown by the Red Sox who would end the year 11 games out of first place.
And who would start the series off for the Yankees? None other than Johnny Damon who would lead off the series with a standup triple and score off of Derek Jeter’s RBI single. He then would follow that up in the 5th with a two-run homerun. A double short of the cycle, he would finish the game 3-6 with 4 RBI in the Yankees opening 12-4 win. He would follow that up by going a nearly identical 3-6 with a two-run home run and 3 RBI in the night cap of the double header that day, a 14-11 Yankees win.
Damon wouldn’t stop the 3-6 games there, leading off game 3 the next afternoon with a double, following that up with two more doubles in the second and sixth innings. The Yankees would steamroll the Red Sox in game three, 13-5.
Game 4 would turn out to be an amazingly heart breaking loss for Boston as they’d be an out away from a 5-4 victory. However the captain would drive in the tying run. In the tenth Jason Giambi would hit his second homerun of the game and 5th RBI. The Yanks would take game 4 8-5 but take a moral victory for Boston as they would hold Damon to a 1-5 day!
The Yankees would rest key players in game 5 including Damon who would only come in for defense and not record an at bat. They would face old friend David Wells and win the game 2-1 taking all five games in Boston and crushing the hopes of every Red Sox fan in 2006.
Johnny Damon would finish the Boston Massacre batting .435 with 2 homeruns, a triple, 3 doubles and 8 RBI.
2006 would prove to be a very disappointing season. It was a wasted opportunity at a title as the World Series was won by an 83 win team in the Cardinals. One could only imagine that if the Yankees get past Detroit in the first round then they probably have a very good chance of winning it all. Alas, the year wasn’t wasted if it wasn’t for adding one more wrinkle to the greatest rivalry in sports, taking 5 straight in Boston in large part due to contributions from someone their fans loved so much the years before. Oh how sweet it was.
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