In 1919, Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold star player Babe Ruth to the Yankees, which was followed by an 86-year period in which the Red Sox did not win a World Series. This led to the popularization of a superstition known as the “Curse of the Bambino”, which was one of the most well-known aspects of the rivalry.
The rivalry is often a heated subject of conversation, especially in the home region of both teams, the Northeastern United States. Since the inception of the wild card format and the resultant additional Division Series, every season’s postseason has featured one or both of the AL East rivals; they have faced each other in the AL Championship Series three times. The Yankees won twice, in 1999 and 2003; while the Sox won in 2004. In addition, the teams have twice met in the last regular-season series of a season to decide the league title, in 1904 (when the Red Sox won) and 1949 (when the Yankees won).
The Yankees and the Red Sox finished tied for first in 1978; subsequently, the Yankees won a high-profile tie-breaker game for the division title. The first-place tie came after the Red Sox had enjoyed a 14-game lead over the Yankees more than halfway through the season. Similarly, in the 2004 AL Championship Series, the Yankees ultimately lost a best-of-7 series after leading 3–0. The Red Sox comeback was the only time in baseball history that a team has come back from a 0–3 deficit to win a series. The Red Sox went on to win the World Series, effectively ending the 86-year-old curse.
The Yankee–Red Sox match-up is regarded by some sports journalists as the greatest rivalry in sports. Games between the two teams often generate considerable interest and receive extensive media coverage, including being broadcast on national television. Many national networks, including ESPN and Fox Sports, broadcast the games on the weekend. Yankees—Red Sox games are some of the most-watched MLB games each season. Outside of baseball, the rivalry between the two teams has led to violence between fans, along with attention from politicians and other athletes.
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