BOSTON — Now, nearly 18 years after the moment, it’s hard to grasp how much celebration followed the Red Sox’s World Series victory in 2004. The pain and frustration of generations has evaporated, as fans Boston baseball players soaked themselves in the pure ecstasy that had so long eluded them.
Yet through it all, one snapshot that has endured forever from those days was the image of Manny Ramirez happily holding up a fan’s sign while parading through Boston on a duck during the World Series rolling rally.
“Jeter is playing golf today,” the sign read. “It’s better!”
A fan made the sign, but it thrilled Ramirez enough to grab it and show it to the world.
It’s something that still doesn’t go well with Jeter.
In the fifth episode of Jeter’s ESPN docuseries “The Captain,” he grudgingly discussed what he went through after the Yankees blew the ALCS’ 3-0 lead over the Red Sox in 2004.
“It’s misery, you know. My stomach hurts,” Jeter shared. “I walked out of New York, back home, Boston won the World Series. Manny Ramirez had a sign that said ‘Jeter is playing golf right now’ during the parade. Someone sent it to me. Uh … so yeah, it made me sick.”
From the way Jeter reflects on the moment all these years later, it’s clear he still hasn’t gotten over it.
Earlier in the episode, Jeter talked about Dave Roberts’ famous steal in the ninth inning of Game 4.
“I mean, if the ball was six inches over the other side, it went out. It didn’t happen and that’s how it goes,” Jeter said. “But I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”
This The commentary was written with a chuckle, but much of the first part of the episode showed just how much psychological damage this series had done to the Yankees.
“I haven’t slept for a while,” receiver Jorge Posada said.
“For all the success we had against the Red Sox, I think 2004 made up for it all for them,” Bernie Williams said. “I mean, there’s no more embarrassing way to lose a streak. I don’t think there’s anything in the world that can top that.”
One specific issue that was discussed was the Yankees’ reluctance to drop a bunt to test Curt Schilling’s mobility, as the pitcher had his ankle tendon sutured to a bone to allow him to throw.
“We didn’t have guys who wanted to do this – who were out to win at all costs,” lamented Gary Sheffield. “It’s not what I imagined the Yankees would be.”
It took a while, but Jeter expressed a bit of regret about it.
“I don’t know how many guys we had that could really hold their own,” Jeter said. “I guess I could have.”
While the Yankees’ pain remains evident, manager Joe Torre appears to have overcome the 3-0 lead fairly quickly.
“It was a playoff that you wish hadn’t happened, but I don’t think I’ve ever lost sleep saying, ‘I wish I had done this instead,'” Torre said.
Yankees fans — and players — might feel differently.