Admit it. You thought this had the markings of World War III. Our hated rivals in the house for the first time since the ALCS. Fresh memories of multiple Yankee batters plunked by Sox pitchers earlier this week in the Bronx. The Fenway air thick with World Series pennants and the “Yankees Suck” chant.
Myself, I was expecting anything from A-Rod jumping into the stands with a Louisville Slugger to Randy Johnson storming the NESN booth, insisting that Rem-Dawg and Orsillo not talk back to him.
But the Yanks, it turned out, were perfect guests. No Mussina fastballs to anyone’s jimmy. No Gary Sheffield rants. And for all the rumblings about not wanting to witness the flag-rasing and ring ceremony, many of the players stood on the top step of the dugout throughout the pre-game events, adding polite applause at times. When we booed them mercilessly during the player intros, they took it in stride. And when Mo Rivera got a standing ovation from the Fenway Faithful, he laughed it off, even doffing his hat to the crowd.
The game itself was a thing of beauty. Superb pitching from Wakefield, and some timely offense, including a two-run homer by Mirabelli. Much to the delight of the crowd, there was even an A-Rod error that opened the gates for three Red Sox runs.
All in all, it was a perfect day: A proper tribute to the greatest Red Sox season ever, and a hint of the greatness that may well define this year’s model.
Tomorrow, it’s Schilling and Ja-ret Wright. See you then.