BOSTON (AP) -- Bostonians who never thought they'd live to see
the Red Sox win it all witnessed another first in the franchise's
recently refurbished lore: The New York Yankees applauding as their
rivals collected the spoils of their World Series championship.
With gaudy rings and an emotional flag-raising by old-timers who
never got a chance to fly their own, the Red Sox celebrated their
2004 title and turned to their defense, beating the Yankees 8-1 on
Monday in the Fenway Park opener.
"Now we can put that to bed and get on with 2005," said
knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, the longest-tenured player on the
team. "It was a great run last year and it was very exciting to be
a part of that. I think once the game started, it's time to move
Wakefield (1-0) allowed one unearned run, five hits and two
walks while striking out five in seven innings. Doug Mirabelli
homered, and the Yankees played compliant guests by watching and
clapping during the hourlong ring ceremony and then fumbling away
Mike Mussina (0-1) allowed seven runs -- four earned -- seven
hits, three walks and five strikeouts in five innings. Alex
Rodriguez, the focus of much Boston ire during the offseason and
the fans' taunts during the game, misplayed a grounder for an error
that let in three runs as the Red Sox made it 7-1 in the fifth.
The Red Sox took a 2-0 lead on Mirabelli's second-inning homer
and made it 4-0 on Kevin Millar's two-run single in the third.
After Rodriguez singled, stole second and scored on a throwing
error by Boston shortstop Edgar Renteria, Rodriguez gave back three
runs with an error in the bottom half.
"It's the home opener. We're playing the Yankees. We've got a
ring ceremony. All of a sudden, you look up and [Derek] Jeter's in
the batter's box," said Boston manager Terry Francona, who
returned after missing four games with a viral infection that was
feared to be a heart problem.
"It was going quickly. But Wakefield kind of took care of the
rest of that for us. He was fantastic."
Through bench-clearing brawls, home-plate collisions, bullpen
crew dustups and fights among fans, the Red Sox and Yankees have
developed an animosity that fuels one of the most venomous -- and
one of the best -- rivalries in all of sports.
But it had also been laughably one-sided: Since the Red Sox sold
Babe Ruth to the Yankees, New York had won 26 World Series and
Boston hadn't won any.
Until last year.
"They certainly deserved everything they got today," Yankees
manager Joe Torre said. "They won the championship last year, and
even though you envy what's going on and you're a little jealous,
it doesn't mean that you can ignore it.
"I think everybody was curious just to see what the Red Sox
would do on the day that they got their World Series rings."
Among the curious were the Boston fans, who waited nine decades
to see it. Filling the ballpark hours before the first pitch, they
braved a 46-degree temperature, and a strong wind kept the new
World Series flag flapping stiffly above the Green Monster.
It was 2:05 p.m. -- an hour before the scheduled first pitch --
when the words "World Series Champion Boston Red Sox" were first
spoken over the loudspeaker, drawing a huge cheer from the crowd of
They cheered the arrival of the World Series trophy (though it's
hard to believe anyone hadn't seen it as it makes its victory tour
to all 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts). They cheered for the
injured soldiers and sailors who carried some of the rings onto the
They cheered -- sarcastically -- for Yankees closer Mariano
Rivera, who blew a save in the Game 4 of the AL Championship Series
when New York was on the verge of a sweep. The Red Sox won four
straight games to advance to the Series and swept the St. Louis
Cardinals for their first world championship since 1918.
They cheered for a Green Monster-sized World Series champion
banner hung over the famous left-field wall, and the regular-sized
one that will fly on the center-field flagpole for this season.
Former shortstop Johnny Pesky helped raise it to half-staff along
with Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski.
"I never dreamed anything like this would ever happen to me,"
said Pesky, who first joined the team 64 years ago and never saw it
win a title. "It's just fun to be with people that really love the
The cheers continued for the Boston sports greats -- Bruin Bobby
Orr, Celtic Bill Russell and Patriots Tedy Bruschi and Richard
Seymour -- who tied together the city's championship history by
throwing out ceremonial first pitches.
Bruschi, who is recovering from a stroke, threw his pitch to
Francona. The two have Arizona roots and they became friendly long
before they both had medical scares.
"It was probably a little more emotional that I wanted it to
be," said Francona, who gave Bruschi a big hug. "He knows I'm
pulling for him. I've been pulling for him for a long time.
Probably more so now."
The pregame ceremony delayed the start by 13 minutes. ...
Wakefield did not give up a hit until the first batter of the
fourth inning. ... The Red Sox are 61-44 in home openers, 52-42 at
Fenway Park. It was Boston's first victory in a home opener in four
years. ... Gary Sheffield went 2-for-3 for the Yankees after going
1-for-9 in his previous two games. ... Jeter went 0-for-4 to snap
his season-opening six-game hitting streak. ... New York's Jason
Giambi received mild boos -- fewer than the batboy -- in his first
road game since his offseason was tarnished by the steroids