By Shane McCarthy aka NU_Fan

Ask someone what other team comes to mind when mentioning the Boston Red Sox and the answer will always be the New York Yankees. What other two teams define the term “rivalry” in baseball, and arguably all sports in general, better than the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees? A large portion of the greatest players to ever grace the game have donned the classic ‘B’ or immortal pinstripes. Each team’s home, up until 2008, is a classic baseball cathedral. Over 100 years of bad blood and almost exceptional hatred for one another has transformed into the match up of all match ups. From the infamous sale of Babe Ruth in 1918 which spawned the “Curse of the Bambino”, to the 1978 one-game playoff for the AL East Pennant, to Aaron Boone’s walk off Game 7 home run in 2003; Boston and New York have shared plenty of defining points.

In light of that past history, and Boston almost always being on the wrong side of it, it is no surprise that the 2004 ALCS had the plot straight out of a fairy tale. New York took the first three games, including an absolutely dominating 19-8 performance in Game 3. With no baseball team ever coming back from the seemingly insurmountable 0-3 game deficit, it is an understatement to say that morale was running low in Red Sox Nation. Game 4 went a suspenseful 12 innings; it included a gutsy steal by Dave Roberts in the 9th which led to the eventual game-tying run, giving Mariano Rivera a rare postseason blown save allowing David Ortiz to hit a walk-off two run home run. Game 5 was no less suspenseful and featured another Red Sox comeback which culminated in a 14th inning Ortiz game-winning single. It was at this point in time that I remember seeing a lot of “We Believe” signs popping up. Those fans who may have deserted the Red Sox earlier started rejoining their faithful brethren in hopes of seeing the unthinkable happen. There was a spark of life. The feeling was palpable. It carried over to Game 6, which saw a hobbled Curt Schilling, visibly bleeding on a now very famous sock, pitch a brilliant seven innings, giving up only one run.

All of a sudden, only three days after being on the brink of sure elimination, the Red Sox had tied up the series and seemed to be carrying all the momentum. The Lovable Losers. Baseball’s bums. They were known by many names. This, almost rag tag looking, shaggy haired team wasn’t supposed to be on the same level as the crisp, clean-cut, Yankees. However, one of the reasons baseball is so great is because it allows for moments like this. A team that is the complete underdog in every sense of the word pulls off the unimaginable and shocks the world.

Game 7 gave Red Sox fan’s heart palpitations a rest when they built an early lead and capped their amazing comeback with a 10-3 win. Of course, anyone who has been a fan of the Red Sox for more than a few years and lived through all the heartache of years past was not able to rest easy until that final out was recorded.

The Red Sox went on to win the World Series in four straight games as everyone knows. However, for me, and I’m sure the majority of Red Sox Nation, the World Series was really decided in the ALCS that year. Even as I sit here and type, I get goosebumps recalling the details of that series. It was the perfect way to shake off 86 years of bad luck and finally win another championship. I may be a little biased in writing that the greatest single moment to ever happen in the 150ish years of baseball was the 2004 ALCS. Sure, maybe I am a Red Sox fan. Maybe I haven’t been around long enough to witness some of the other instances of glory this great sport has given us. Despite these factors, I know in my heart of hearts this was the defining point in time for the nation’s past time and I was lucky enough to be alive and witness it.