Tempers, Torment and Tribulations

Tempers, Torment and Tribulations

Ryan Thomas

The Boston-New York professional sports dynamic is older than Frank Sinatra and more storied than the 1969 Woodstock. In a 1988 New York Times article, Sam Goldaper said, “Bostonians and New Yorkers have argued over their cities’ respective merits and accomplishments since before the Revolution. They have tried to outdo each other in politics, science, art and almost everything else.” That “everything else” is sports.

The Red Sox and Yankees certainly have the most storied rivalry. There’s Bucky Dent, Aaron Boone, the 2004 ALCS, and everything before and after.

With the Bruins, it’s Bobby Orr and the 1972 team beating the New York Rangers for the Stanley Cup.

There’s the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks, who had two distinct decades of beating each other while they were down (The Celtics laying the smack down in their “Golden Era” with Bill Russell, Tom Heinson, Bob Cousy, and coach Red Auerbach. The Knicks returned the favor with their Willis Reed-led teams of the early 1970’s).

The New England Patriots have had recent rivalries with New York teams. Whether it’s Bill Parcell’s New England/New York Giants/New York Jets dynamic, Bill Belichick’s sour departure from the Jets or the SpyGate incident, there’s more than enough fodder to keep the media busy.

Since April of 2007 in the four major sports (NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL), Boston teams hold a 21-12 (a .636 winning percentage) advantage over their rival New York teams (the only team without a winning record is the Red Sox).

And not only are there more games than fathomable, but the story lines are adding up faster than Tom Brady-to-Randy Moss touchdown passes. Starting in April of 2007, let’s take a look back at the notable events between The Hub and The Big Apple.

April pitted the Yankees and Red Sox against each other. There was the four-consecutive homerun game on national television and Mariano Rivera’s eighth-inning, four-run meltdown, capped off by the emergence of Favorite Sox Player Not Named Ortiz or Papelbon (Hideki Okajima).

June showed Boston fans a side of Alex Rodriguez that they had not seen before: A clutch side. A-Rod took Jonathan Papelbon deep in the ninth at Fenway in the rain to propel the Yankees to a win.

The dog days of August gave the Yankees a chance to show America – and Boston fans – that they weren’t going away just yet. A three-game sweep at The Stadium (wins by Pettite, Wong, and Clemens), and fireworks that included Joba Chamberlain and Kevin Youkilis’ head garnered attention.

September rolled around with a battle of 18-game winners (Chien-Ming Wong and Josh Beckett) dueling, with Beckett prevailing in a 10-1 rout, allowing only one run over seven innings while striking out seven. Bigger stories began to arise as SpyGate and the Patriots-Jets rivalry heated up. A video camera, a draft pick, and $750,000 were confiscated by the NFL, followed by asterisk talk and a deteriorating relationship between Bill Belichick and his former-assistant-turned-Jets-head-coach Eric Mangini. In lesser news, the Patriots beat the Jets soundly, 38-14.

October continued with news and speculation about SpyGate while the month built up with a preseason game between the Knicks and the rejuvenated Celtics. In the game, tempers flared and two technical fouls were handed out, and the intensity was that of a regular season game. The Bruins and Rangers met for the first time in the season, with the Bruins prevailing in a 1-0 shootout victory at Madison Square Garden.

December arrived with a bang, as the Celtics came close to making history of the good kind against the Knicks when they defeated New York 104-59 at the TD Banknorth Garden. The twelfth month was a New York double-header for the Patriots. They beat both the Jets (20-10) and the Giants (38-35), shut up all Jets fans and beat a second Manning in less than two months, all the while going (yawn) 16-0. The Bruins won at the Islanders for the first time in more than six years, and, in the meantime, finally appeared on the Boston Sports Radar again.

January is unfolding as we speak, and the Patriots and Giants are priming up for a Super Bowl showdown in sunny, warm, dry Arizona. The Knicks and Celtics once again haven’t been playing nice. Paul Pierce and Quentin Richardson were ejected from their latest game for “jawing” at each other.

That’s not even everything. I’m sure plenty was left out. History is history, but New York-Boston history isn’t just history: it’s tell-your-grandkids history. I’d say enjoy it while you can, but it will always be there for you to enjoy. New York and Boston aren’t going anywhere.