October 31, 2004

It's About Time.

I Love These Guys!

Sunday Papers. Bob Hohler: "Remembering 10 noteworthy moments en route to a championship" ...Two special Globe sections on the World Series and parade.

The Standells and their 1966 hit. ... Monday night: Lowe on Leno; Damon on Letterman. ... First Schilling is campaigning for Bush. Then he's not. Now he is. Sounds like a flip-flopper.
Identity. A reader in Maine adds her two cents about the Red Sox fans like losing angle:
I abhor this sentiment. I will always want my team to win. The difference now is that I will no longer have to endure the sarcasm and ridicule of others, especially my Yankee-loving uncles and aunts. The whole world now knows what I and millions others do: this team is special and are the world champions. Personally, my psyche is fine.
Back in the distant past -- when the Red Sox hadn't won a World Series in 86 years -- I had a theory about why Yankee fans gave us so much shit. It couldn't be that they truly hated us, since what the hell did Boston ever do to the Yankees to inspire such venom? No, they were jealous of us. They knew, deep in their hearts, so deep they could never admit it, that if their team ever put them through what the Red Sox have occasionally put us through, they would never last. They'd stop watching, stop going to the park, stop wearing the caps and shirts and jackets. Too much trouble, too much pain, not enough winning. In a sentence: We are better fans and they know it.

We stayed. We stayed through years of crappy teams. We stayed through 1978, 1986 and the years of finishing behind New York. We stayed and endured the countless little losses and embarrassments each season brought. We stayed through 1999 and we stayed through 2003. And we came back stronger, believing even more. Most people would not do that. We are not most people.

Most fans are more fair-weather than that. I mean, why bother? It's only baseball, a game for godsakes. Why put yourself through such abuse? ... Love. Nothing but wholehearted love -- for the team, the players and the game itself. In the good times and in the bad. In sickness and in health. Love. We don't run from bad times.

I doubt that the writers penning these "Sox fans are lost now" stories even believe them. It's just a stupid, easy angle. The curse angle has vanished, so they need something equally mindless to blather on about. Being a Red Sox fan has never been about suffering and heartache. Anyone that tells you that -- even if a Red Sox cap is on his head -- is a moron. ... I recently described my 2003 ALCS experience as "soul-crushing" -- but my relationship with the Red Sox has always been about happiness. (Even in 1986, the ALCS against California was wondrous.)

Being at Fenway Park -- night or day -- is one of my life's greatest pleasures. When I walk up the aisle, get hit by that rush of green and bright red, find my seat and look around, I always say to myself, "God, I love this place." And when the game is done, I linger, wandering down closer to the field, trying to absorb as much of the park as possible, to sustain me until I return.

Anyone who was truly bothered by the losing likely handed in his cap and got off the bus years ago. When we became fans, often at a young age (I was 11), we knew nothing about Boston's past. And even if someone told us, it was just words, it had no meaning. By the time we were old enough to understand the history, to experience it first-hand, we were already hopelessly in love.

Red Sox Nation never defined itself by the curse. And we won't define ourselves by whatever label the national sports media is fitting us for now.

We still have expectations. We demand a repeat. We demand a first place finish, as befits defending World Champions, relegating the Yankees to also-ran status and summarily vanquishing all playoff foes.

And we'll boo and swear when Terry Francona screws up the bullpen or writes out an odd lineup or the team can't get a runner in from third with 0 outs. Well, maybe not as quickly as before. Perhaps we'll give Tito and the players the slight benefit of the doubt, because ...

Bush Had Osama Trapped -- And He Let Him Get Away. Knight Ridder Returns to Tora Bora, Concludes Many Terrorists Escaped:

"Franks and other top officials ignored warnings from their own and allied military and intelligence officers ... While more than 1,200 US Marines sat at an abandoned air base in the desert 80 miles away, Franks and other commanders relied on three Afghan warlords and a small number of American, British and Australian special forces ... 'Military and intelligence officials had warned Franks and others that the two main Afghan commanders, Hazrat Ali and Haji Zaman, couldn't be trusted, and they proved to be correct.'"

From the Telegraph, February 23, 2002: "Eyewitnesses express shock that the US pinned in Taliban and al-Qaeda forces, thought to contain many high leaders, on three sides only, leaving the route to Pakistan open. ... An intelligence chief in Afghanistan's new government says: 'The border with Pakistan was the key, but no one paid any attention to it. And there were plenty of landing areas for helicopters had the Americans acted decisively. Al-Qaeda escaped right out from under their feet.'"

Indeed, only a few weeks after 9/11, bin Laden was offered to the US to stand trial for the attacks. The US rejected the offer. One official said there was a risk of "a premature collapse of the international effort if by some luck chance Mr bin Laden was captured."

Reading many stories from late 2001, one is left with the conclusion that either the US military is grossly incompetent or they knowingly allowed bin Laden to escape.

October 30, 2004

Good Riddance. John Levesque, Seattle Post-Intelligencer: "The idea that the Boston Red Sox have been hexed for nearly a century because one of their owners sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees is the appallingly flimsy crutch of writers and broadcasters who haven't formed an original thought since they ditched 'what's your sign?' in favor of 'come here often?' ... [I]t's the worst kind of hackneyed, scripted drivel." ... In other news, Dan Shaughnessy: "Personally, I already miss the old Red Sox a little."

The Red Sox picked up Bill Mueller's option for next season ($2.5 million). Gabe Kapler, Terry Adams and Pedro Astacio filed for free agency.

Great photos of the parade at the Globe's website.
Withholding Evidence. A supplemental chapter to the 9/11 Commission's report will not be made public by the Justice Department until after next week's election. A New York Times story says the Commission "quietly asked the inspectors general at the Departments of Defense and Transportation to review what it had determined were broadly inaccurate accounts provided by several civil and military officials about efforts to track and chase the hijacked aircraft on Sept. 11."

"Broadly inaccurate accounts" = lies. ... So the "official" report was published and touted as the definitive account -- but many questions about what actually happened on the morning of the attack remained unanswered. And any review of official lies, distortions and incompetence has been buried in a suppressed supplement. ... This Commission and its "work" has been a worldwide embarrassment and a grossly partisan sham from Day One.
It's Just A Shot Away. Gambler7 at SoSH: "I caught Kevin Millar on The Best Damn Sports Show Period a little earlier [Friday] and he offered up this story: Before Game 6 he brought an ice cold bottle of Jack Daniels around to the team and they all did shots at 7:45, a half hour before the game. They won so he then brought it out for Game 7 and they did the same thing ... and won. This continued into the World Series and they took shots of JD before every single game, finally before Game 4, he said Francona joined them and they all took shots before Game 4."

October 29, 2004

Three Stories About the 1918 Red Sox (And Me). As the Red Sox closed in on their sixth World Series title, a few writers spoke with me about the 1918 team. Articles have appeared in the Miami Herald, Portland Press Herald and Ft. Myers News-Press.

One point I addressed in the Herald article (which you have to register to read, I'm afraid) is that Red Sox like to lose (or rather, we liked to lose). This silliness is also mentioned in a front page story in today's New York Times, headlined: "With Nothing Left to Win, Fans of Red Sox Suddenly Feel a Loss."

I despise that angle -- and I fear this is what we'll be subjected to now that sportswriters can't bring up the curse (though the back page of the New York Daily News yesterday said the curse was merely taking a year off). There's no question that rooting for the Red Sox will be different now. It has to be different. But I don't think it will be any less passionate. I still want them to win every single game.

I love that even Theo is talking about Sox fans chanting "Two Thousand" when the Yankees come to Fenway -- which, according to the preliminary schedule, will be the 2005 home opener. They get to watch as the World Series Champions flag is raised. Sweet!

October 28, 2004

The 2004 Boston Red Sox. Thank you.

Terry Adams, Abe Alvarez, Jimmy Anderson, Bronson Arroyo, Pedro Astacio.

Mark Bellhorn, Jamie Brown, Ellis Burks, Orlando Cabrera, Frank Castillo.

Cesar Crespo, Johnny Damon, Brian Daubach, Lenny DiNardo, Andy Dominique.

Alan Embree, Keith Foulke, Nomar Garciaparra, Ricky Gutierrez, Adam Hyzdu.

Bobby Jones, Gabe Kapler, Byung-Hyun Kim, Derek Lowe, Mark Malaska.

Anastacio Martinez, Pedro Martinez, Sandy Martinez, David McCarty, Ramiro Mendoza.

Doug Mientkiewicz, Kevin Millar, Doug Mirabelli, Bill Mueller, Mike Myers.

Joe Nelson, Trot Nixon, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Pokey Reese.

Dave Roberts, Curt Schilling, Phil Seibel, Earl Snyder, Mike Timlin.

Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield, Scott Williamson, Kevin Youkilis.

Terry Francona, Dave Wallace, Ron Jackson, Dale Suevm, Lynn Jones.

John Henry, Theo Epstein, Larry Lucchino, Tom Werner.

October 27, 2004

Soak In It. ... At Last! ... "Generations of Sox fans went to their graves having never experienced a World Series championship but after an 86-year wait, the descendants of the unfulfilled exulted for family lines."...

John Henry: "Someone said this is the biggest thing to happen in New England since the Revolution. I don't know about that but I know there is an overwhelming sense of joy and relief."

Jackie MacMullan, Globe: "In a matter of 11 days, they turned the baseball world upside down. ... The 2004 version of New England's most valued treasure, a happy bunch of idiots with flowing manes and sturdy bats, refused to buy into the myths that had burdened their predecessors. ... Go ahead. Say it. The Boston Red Sox have won the World Series."

1903, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, 2004 ...
World Series Game 4: Boston 3, St. Louis 0. SWEEP!!!!!!!!!

At 11:40 pm, the Boston Red Sox were crowned Champions of Baseball for the first time since 1918. ... I just cna;lksafj'vkv'ain lkaevn'f ndbal;KSwr[gioWN< m cmX L"KN"VILBkms ,M,ASnlkmdx'boja'k ,.NZS"Kens'iUO0GJLBMVLCM
Breathe Deeply. I've been seeing some pretty crazy shit on my television screen these past few days. How about you? ... Reading this just-the-facts-ma'am wire service intro this morning really brought it home to me -- complete with goosebumps -- that what I'm thinking is happening is actually happening:

"Manny Ramirez drove in two runs, including a solo homer, and Pedro Martinez set down 14 straight batters as the Boston Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 4-1 Tuesday night to move within a victory of their first World Series title since 1918."


The Red Sox also became the first team in World Series history to hold the lead after the first inning in Games 1, 2 and 3. And they set a team record with their seventh straight postseason win. ... At the end of last night's game, as Sox fans chanted "One more win! One more win!," the Busch Stadium scoreboard posted this message: "Thanks for a great 2004 season." Hmmm. ... All 20 teams in World Series history to win the first three games have gone on to the championship -- and 17 of those did it with a sweep. After all that has happened in the last 10 days, it would be foolish of me to say that the trophy is in the bag, but you know what?

Dirt Dog has an excellent interview with Curt Schilling. ... Is MLB jumping the gun? Technically, yes. But jinxes = curses = crap, so get your shirts and hats now.

I'm having my hat surgically attached to my head.

Another thought I've been having for the past few days: There are dozens of sportswriters in St. Louis right now and all of them have been thinking about how they will begin their game stories if the Red Sox win the World Series. They've tried out many different angles, writing and rewriting, wondering how bare-bones simple to be or how poetically momentous. Especially the Boston papers (and radio announcers). What gets written on the front page of the Boston Globe will be truly historic. That cannot be something you leave until the game is over.

Was last night's start Pedro's last in a Red Sox uniform? "I hope this is not the last one. I hope I get another chance to come back to the team. If I don't, I understand the business part of it. I just hope that many other people understand that I wasn't the one who wanted to leave. ... My heart is with Boston. The emotions are always going to be there."

"A lot of people say they don't want to die until the Red Sox win the World Series. Well, there could be a lot of busy ambulances (tonight)." -- Johnny Damon

October 26, 2004

World Series Game 3: Boston 4, St. Louis 1

Pedro's line? 7-3-0-0-2-6. That will do just fine.

Nine days ago, the Red Sox were 3 Mariano Rivera outs from being swept in the ALCS. Now they are up 3 games to 0 in the World Series, with a chance to win their first World Championship since 1918 tomorrow night.

I have a feeling the hours are going to go by very slowly until 8:00 pm.
Loose. Lowe: "If you were on our plane (Sunday night), you wouldn't have known if we were going to Game 3 of the World Series or just leaving spring training. We're very loose." ... Wakefield: "I think the New York series has a lot to with that. We're not supposed to be here. This is icing on the cake. We already overcame the hardest part."

Theo: "They're unaffected by everything. Name something that's affected them. Playing .500 ball for three months? Nope -- they had the best record in baseball after that. Losing their starting shortstop and starting right fielder in spring training? No, they just went 15-6 out of the gate. Losing a franchise player at the deadline? Nope. Falling down, 3-0, with a rested Mariano Rivera on the mound in the ninth inning of the fourth game? No problem."

The Red Sox agreed to award Nomar Garciaparra a full share of playoff cash. Nixon: "Anybody who spills their blood in the field out there one time helping a club win a ballgame deserves as much as anyone else, in my opinion."

Speaking of spilling blood, there are some people that question what that red stuff on Schilling's sock really was. In the Baltimore Sun, Laura Vecsey says "word out of New York is that some Yankees players wouldn't put it past Schilling to dab his sock with red magic marker, or apply generous amounts of Mercurochrome -- anything to amplify the Red Sox's amazing postseason run and, of course, to hoist his stature."

Damn, that's some serious sour grapes.

October 25, 2004

Happy Birthday, Pedro! The 33-year-old Martinez makes his first career World Series start Tuesday night in St. Louis. ... He looks ready.

October 24, 2004

World Series Game 2: Boston 6, St. Louis 2. In the post-game interview, Curt Schilling said that when he woke up Sunday morning at 7 am, he couldn't walk. And he truly believed that he could not take the ball in Game 2. But somehow the Sox docs got him able to pitch -- removing one of the sutures apparently was one of the keys.

Schilling threw 6 innings, allowed 4 hits, 1 walk and 1 unearned run (94 pitches). He wasn't as sharp as he was against the Yankees last week, but he kept the Cardinals at bay. The first batter of the game, Renteria, took him to 12 pitches before grounding out, and his only 1-2-3 inning was the 3rd. There is talk that he will be unable to start again in the series because he's having minor surgery every few days.

Boston scored twice in the first inning (3 walks from Matt Morris and Jason Varitek's triple) and when the Cardinals cut that lead to 2-1 in the 4th, the Red Sox stormed right back in their half with 2 more -- on an HBP and back-to-back doubles from Bill Mueller and Mark Bellhorn. Orlando Cabrera's 2-run single in the 6th scored Trot Nixon and Johnny Damon and put Boston up 6-1.

Alan Embree relieved Schilling and struck out the side in the 7th (the bottom of the order). Keith Foulke was called upon to get 4 outs and he did -- on 19 pitches (after throwing 36 yesterday) -- with 2 strikeouts.

Boston's motto: "We're gonna make 4 errors every night and still kick your ass!" ... The Red Sox have taken a 2-0 lead in the World Series twice before -- in 1916 and 1986. 77% of teams with a 2-0 lead win the series. ... One of the factiods on the screen during Tito's interview noted that he now tops the list of Red Sox managers with 9 post-season wins.

A off-day Monday and Pedro/Suppan in St. Louis on Tuesday.
Notes on Game 1. St. Louis 1st -- At 8:09, Wakefield throws a strike past Renteria and we are under way. Two minutes later, Renteria strikes out on a 1-2 knuckleball and the Fenway crowd goes nuts. Walker, finishing a 10-pitch at-bat, doubles into the right field corner, but Wakefield quickly gets both Pujols and Rolen on infield popups and the inning is over.

Boston 1st -- Damon also works a 10-pitch AB before slapping the ball into the left field corner for a double. Is he still sleeping on the couch? Cabrera gets plunked in the shoulder and Damon takes third on Ramirez's long fly to right. McCarver notes that Walker's catch along the right field line was excellent because "he was able to hold Cabrera at first." One problem: Cabrera wasn't tagging on the play.

On a 1-0 count, Ortiz hits an absolute bomb to deep right, over the foul pole down the line. Boston 3-0. Millar crushes Williams's next pitch high off the Monster for a double and after Nixon flies out to right, Mueller adds a single. So much for an ALCS letdown.

St. Louis 2nd -- The Cardinals come right back. Boston shifts the infield over towards first against Edmonds, so he drops a bunt down the third base line for an easy single. A walk and a bunt move him to third and he scores on a sac fly. Boston 4-1.

Boston 2nd -- McUseless's partner, Joe Buck, says something about hearing sound of the blimp on the telecast. He says it's that "droning-on sound" ... some jokes just write themselves. Bellhorn, the only Sock not to bat in the 1st inning, singles to the opposite field. Damon lines out to shortstop and Cabrera lines out to left. Two outs, but Williams isn't fooling anybody. Ramirez singles (which gets the Cardinal bullpen stirring) and Ortiz walks, but Millar leaves the bases loaded.

St. Louis 3rd -- Walker homers to right field with one out. Wakefield then hits Pujols, but gets Rolen to ground into a 5-4-3 double play. Boston 4-3.

Boston 3rd -- With one out, Mueller walks, Mirabelli singles high off the Wall, Bellhorn walks and Damon singles (rbi). Williams leaves with the bases loaded; Haren comes in. Cabrera singles to left (rbi), Manny forces Cabrera at second (rbi) and Ortiz walks. Millar grounds out and although Boston leads 7-2, they have also left the bases loaded in two straight innings.

St. Louis 4th -- Wakefield's control vanishes. He throws 14 pitches to the first 3 batters (Edmonds, Sanders, Womack) and 12 of them are balls. Edmonds scores on a fly to right and Taguchi grounds out, but after another walk to Renteria, Wakefield is gone. Walker hits Arroyo's first pitch for an rbi-single. Boston 7-4.

Boston 4th -- Nixon (10 pitches) and Mueller (7 pitches) both walk to begin the inning, but not only doesn't Boston score, the runners can't advance at all.

St. Louis 6th -- With two outs, Taguchi hits a little dribbler down the third base line. Arroyo comes over and unwisely fires off-balance to first for an error. Taguchi scores when Renteria doubles to left center. Myers and Timlin get warm. Walker smacks another double into the right field corner for his 4th hit. Boston's 5-run lead is gone; the game is tied 7-7. After battling Wakefield for the first 9 pitches in the first inning, Walker has seen 5 pitches and has hit a: double, foul, home run, single and double. Jeez.

Boston 7th -- Calero is in and he starts off by walking Bellhorn. Damon -- not bunting -- shatters his bat on a grounder to second, which ends up moving Bellhorn up anyway. Cabrera walks on five pitches and Manny lines a single to left center. Edmonds gets the ball on the run and fires home, but his throw is up the first base line and Bellhorn scores easily (Boston 8-7). Cardinals catcher Matheny fires back to Renteria near second base because Manny has taken a wide turn around first. He scampers back, but there is no St. Louis player near the bag, so he's able to get back without incident.

McCarver immediately begins criticizing Ramirez for not hustling and getting to second base. The replay does show Manny pointing into the dugout after the hit (which is annoying), but there was no way he would have made it to second. With no one covering first, it looks to me like Manny played it right, taking a wide enough turn so that he could advance if it became possible, but not so far that he couldn't get back if he had to. McCarver, without the Yankees to drool over, apparently needs a Red Sox punching bag. LHP King comes in to face Ortiz, something we'll probably see a lot of in this series. Tizzle wins this round, smashing a vicious grounder towards Womack at second. The ball kicks up and strikes him near the collarbone and knocks him out of the game (x-rays were negative). Cabrera scores on the hit and Boston leads 9-7.

St. Louis 8th -- Timlin had set down the Cardinals 1-2-3 in the 7th. He retires Anderson (Womack's replacement) on a first pitch groundout before Matheny singles (also on the first pitch). Tito brings in Embree for Cedeno, which seems a bit premature to me. Timlin looks sharp and has thrown only 9 pitches to 5 batters; Embree could have been saved for Walker. ... Cedeno bloops a single to right and Francona goes right to Foulke for the game's final 5 outs.

Renteria singles through the shortstop hole into left. Game 4 starter Marquis is pinch-running for Matheny. Marquis slows rounding third, but scores when Ramirez has trouble picking up the ball (Boston 9-8). Walker hits a fly ball to shallow left. Manny runs in and tries a sliding catch, but his foot catches in the grass and he loses his balance. The ball hits off his glove for another error and Cedeno scores the tying run. McCarver, acting like a kid who got a new toy for Christmas, starts in on Ramirez again.

Ramirez said afterwards he shouldn't have tried to slide. Perhaps, but it looked like he could have made the play if he had slid cleanly. Foulke intentionally walks Pujols -- which loads the bases with only one out. It's 9-9. Rolen pops up the first
pitch to Mueller and Foulke (with a 1-1 count) absolutely shreds Edmonds with two perfect pitches on the inside corner to get him looking for the third out. Amazing, game-saving pitching by Foulke.

Boston 8th -- Tavarez in for the Cards. With one out, Varitek (who hit for Mirabelli back in the 6th) reaches when Renteria bobbles a ball hit to his right. Bellhorn takes a strike, hits a long foul to right, takes a ball, then hits another shot to deep right. This one stays fair, hitting off Pesky's Pole for a 2-run home run. He has homered in the last 3 playoff games, including two off the Pole. Boston 11-9.

St. Louis 9th -- Sanders strikes out on 3 pitches. Anderson hits a ground rule double to left. Molina fouls off two pitches before popping to Mientkiewicz at first. Cedeno then strikes out swinging (3 pitches also) to end the game.

P.S. -- Carl Yastrzemski threw out the first pitch, but Fox waits until the top of the 3rd inning -- after the game was an hour old -- to show us any footage of it. ... Before the game, it's reported that 4 box seats to tonight's game sold for $22,000 on ebay. ... In an interview segment, Wakefield says that bringing the World Series to Boston is "the coolest thing ever." ... With Ortiz batting in the 3rd inning, a deafening "Who's your Papi?" chant breaks out. ... Game 1 winners have won 13 of the last 16 World Series.

Schilling/Morris at 8:00 pm.
The Naked Truth. If the Red Sox win the World Series, Johnny Pesky says he's "gonna take off all my clothes and run around the ballpark. Then I can die happy. Not that I'm going to die. I mean, I am going to die. But not soon." ... This will give new meaning to Pesky's pole.

October 23, 2004

World Series Game 1: Boston 11, St. Louis 9. Not the smoothest nine innings I've had the pleasure to see -- four Red Sox errors and 14 total walks -- but on October 23, who cares about style points?

Ortiz is simply not human at this point and Bellhorn has quickly caught fire at a perfect time. Eight of the nine starters either scored a run or had an RBI. All in all a balanced offensive attack -- and the highest scoring Game 1 in World Series history.

The Red Sox are up 1-0 and have Schilling and Pedro ready to go. That is very good news.
"The Most Unadulterated, Disbelieving, Decades-Overdue Fun". Two of Thomas Boswell's recent Washington Post columns have been extraordinary. Read them here and here. In the first link, Boswell observes that "the Red Sox [stole] the pennant from the Yankees not once but four times within 72 heart-stopping hours."

What a beautiful sentence.

The Red Sox stole the pennant from the Yankees not once but four times within 72 heart-stopping hours.


He also wrote this after Game 6: "If the Red Sox, the team synonymous with collapses, misfortune and despair, win Game 7, then, in a blink, the blackest mark in Yankees history will actually be darker than any disgrace in all Boston annals. ... [I]t is the Yankees, not the "cursed" Red Sox, who have a chance for the worst October collapse in history." This will never get old.

Today's Boswell, which also includes his prediction: "The Boston rotation entering the World Series is typical of life in Red Sox land. In the ALCS, Derek Lowe was demoted to the bullpen so Bronson Arroyo could start against the Yankees until Arroyo got knocked out early and Tim Wakefield volunteered to pitch long relief, which forced Lowe to get a start that worked out so well that Wakefield stayed in the bullpen along with Arroyo and now, because Schilling limps, Pedro Martinez needs more rest and Lowe just won the pennant, Wakefield will start Game 1 of the Series. See how easy it is to run the Red Sox? One day this winter, Theo Epstein is going to wake up and look 90."

My blog and Singapore Sox Fan were mentioned in USAToday on Friday. ... Johnny Damon after David Ortiz won Game 5 with a 14th inning single: "Hopefully he'll have six more great games and they'll make a monument of him." ... Not many people know this, but there is already one in Manhattan.

2004 is really my first Red Sox pennant. I was only 11 years old in 1975 and while I do remember some of the World Series (Looie Tiant in Game 1 and Fred Lynn hitting the wall in Game 6 (I must have been in bed when Fisk homered, I have no memory of it)), I certainly wasn't a fan. Though by the time 1976 rolled around, I was hooked.

And in the early eighties, I had drifted away from baseball for a few years. I came back to the Red Sox late in the summer of 1986 and once the playoffs started, I was as rabid as I had been in the late 1970s. But I hadn't followed the team the entire year. ... So 2004 is the first pennant I've been a part of in the obsessive way I feel is necessary. No great significance to that -- I'm just saying.

Hey -- you know what?

The Red Sox stole the pennant from the Yankees not once but four times within 72 heart-stopping hours.

And now it's Wakefield/Williams at 8:00 pm.

October 22, 2004

Unfinished Business. History continues tomorrow.

Game 1: October 23 -- Cardinals (Williams) at Red Sox (Wakefield)
Game 2: October 24 -- Cardinals (Marquis) at Red Sox (Schilling)
Game 3: October 26 -- Red Sox (Martinez) at Cardinals (Morris)
Game 4: October 27 -- Red Sox (Lowe) at Cardinals (Suppan)
Game 5: October 28 -- Red Sox at Cardinals
Game 6: October 30 -- Cardinals at Red Sox
Game 7: October 31 -- Cardinals at Red Sox

Everyone says Redbird Nation is the best Cardinals blog.
The End Of An Era. I thought about doing something like this, but Bruce Allen beat me to it. A sample of media reaction from October 17:

They are down, 3-0, after last night's 19-8 rout, and, in this sport, that is an official death sentence. ... The idea that the Red Sox accomplished anything good at all this season seems inconceivable.
Bob Ryan, Boston Globe

It is not, as [Johnny Damon] said, the Red Sox who are a bunch of idiots. What they are is a bunch of chokes. The idiots are all those fools who truly believed this would be the year the perennially disappointing Sox -- who haven't won a World Series since 1918, nor even a pennant since 1986 -- would finally beat the 26-time, world-champion Yankees, who now are on the brink of playing for a 27th title.
Jim Donaldson, Providence Journal

All season, the Yankees let their play speak for themselves. The Red Sox talk turned out to be so much bigger than their walk.
Kevin Kernan, New York Post

The victory gives the Yankees a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series going into tonight's Game 4. No team in baseball has flushed such a bulge. That means the Yankees are a lock for their 40th flag, and their second straight World Series appearance.
George King, New York Post

I found another one, from October 19, as the teams headed back to New York for Game 6:

Forget the cushion, it's time for the Yankees to play with desperation. If not, this Curse will be reversed and this Yankee team will be remembered as the Greatest Choke of all time. Don't expect that to happen.
Kevin Kernan, New York Post
Watch. This.
Lifes Rich Pageant. SoSHer "5belongstoGeorge" notes one thing that October 20's game did: "I now have bragging rights forever. Forever. It is like a perpetual blank check of "@#%$ you loser" I can cash at the Bank of the MFY Fan. Forever. I don't need to even say anything because we both know it is there. Forever."

After Saturday's rout, I believed that the task of winning four straight games was possible, though certainly not likely. However, just because something has never happened before is no reason why it might not happen in the future. I just didn't want to get swept. And once Game 4 began, we became so focused on each pitch, each batter, each inning, each game -- "just win one game" we said each morning -- that we have yet to step back and see this historic series for what it truly is.

I have heard Game 7 referred to as the greatest Red Sox win of all time and the worst Yankee loss of all time. And the crazy thing is -- THEY MIGHT BE RIGHT! That is amazing. The historical and psychological impact of what happened last week will ripple outwards for years, probably decades.

Now, I want to win the World Series so badly. But even if that doesn't happen, this 2004 team has already done something that no other team in the history of baseball has done. And for that reason, and for who they did it against, the life of every Red Sox fan has been changed forever.

I cannot forget 1978/Dent, 1999 and 2003 and the dozens and dozens of cuts and barbs along the way. I will remember those for the rest of my life. Older fans remember many others (I was only 11 in 1975). But the sting of being reminded of those heartbreaks has been nullified. ... Because now we have a response -- "bragging rights forever."

Them: "1918." Us: "2004."

Them: "Bucky Dent." Us: "Damon, Schilling, Ortiz, Lowe, Foulke, Bellhorn, etc., etc."

Them: "Aaron Boone." Us: "You choked away the pennant 3 outs from a sweep."

Them: "Boston Massacre." Us: "You're not seriously using that phrase anymore are you?"

After a dismissal loss at Yankee Stadium in the future, we will leave the park with our heads held high, impervious to catcalls and insults. Why? Because any loss the Yankees give the Red Sox -- from now until the end of time -- will never be as bad as the beatdown we put on those clowns in the 2004 ALCS. And like 5belongstoGeorge says, they know it too.

RSN will get a large measure of perspective on all of this when the Red Sox play at Yankee Stadium for the first time next season. What a glorious game that will be. How will it feel to walk into that park in April 2005? Maybe like we own the fucking place?

SoSHer "Carmen Fanzone" was there for Game 7: "Just LOVED watching spoiled Yankee fans streaming for the exits in the eighth, leaving the place to thousands of cheering Red Sox fans in the ninth. On our way down to the 3rd-base line -- running through the concourse slapping high fives with Sox fans as if we owned the place, with the fickle regular tenants having abandoned the whole house."

He also points out, as a few other posters did also, that there were "four or five very classy Yankee fans shaking hands and congratulating Sox fans -- one after another by the dozens -- as they left."

October 21, 2004

Promotional Plug. This blog has been getting a lot of traffic this week (2,522 visitors yesterday and 3,200+ today), so I want to direct all of you to the website I have for my book on the 1918 Red Sox.

I did six years of research, spoke to over a dozen descendants of the players, and interviewed a guy who worked as a vendor at Fenway Park in 1918 when he was 14 years old. Plus I look at the possibility that the 1918 World Series might have been fixed. Babe Ruth and the 1918 Red Sox is the first complete story of that infamous season and that team -- and it is 100% curse-free.

1918 should be a season we celebrate and embrace. It's a Red Sox story with a happy ending ... just like 2004 is going to be.
Seeing Red. The St. Louis Cardinals will meet the Boston Red Sox in Game 1 of the 2004 World Series this Saturday night at Fenway Park.

The Cards topped Houston 5-3 tonight as Astros manager Phil Garner left Roger Clemens in too long in the 6th inning. It took only 2 pitches for Pujols (RBI double) and Rolen (2-run HR) to turn a 2-1 deficit to a 4-2 lead.
With Apologies To Bob Dylan. In the Dirt Dog tradition:

Once upon a time you played so fine
Won all the time, drew a check from Big Stein, didn't you?
Hub idiots call, say, "Let's play ball, you're bound to fall"
You thought those hairy guys were all kiddin' you
You used to laugh about
The Sox fans you thought were jealous louts
But now you don't talk so loud
Now you don't seem so proud
About having to be watching Boston play next week.

How does it feel
How does it feel
To be shut down by Foulke
Your team's a national joke
Whiplash on an Ortiz poke
Historic pinstripe choke
Sweep Dreams. Last Sunday night, Newsday jumped the gun. Its front page for October 18:


October 20, 2004

Hey Derek: Where were the ghosts? Did they forget to show up? Did they get stuck in traffic? ... What happened? Why couldn't you find a way to win?
ALCS Game 7: Boston 10, New York 3.

"All empires eventually fall." -- Larry Lucchino, October 21, 2004.

There will be a baseball game played in Fenway Park on Saturday night -- Game 1 of the 2004 World Series.

I think we have our answer.
Who Will Pitch? Arroyo and Wakefield both say that it's Lowe. (So has Tito, apparently.) For New York, the most rested possibilities are Brown, Vazquez and Hernandez.

Pitches. Starts in bold.
Boston         1    2    3    4    5    6

Schilling 58 99
Leskanic 22 13
Mendoza 17
Wakefield 25 64 43
Embree 18 5 14 30 9
Timlin 20 8 37 20
Foulke 5 17 50 22 28
Martinez 113 111
Arroyo 60 17 23
Myers 42 4 4
Lowe 88

New York 1 2 3 4 5 6
Mussina 95 105
Sturtze 7 25 13 14
Gordon 17 16 16 26 19
Rivera 18 23 40 22
Lieber 82 124
Brown 57
Vazquez 96
Quantrill 27 8 13 19
Hernandez 95
Heredia 14 7
Loaiza 59
Part of a transcript of Red Sox doctor Dr. Bill Morgan's WEEI interview today. ... Kenny Lofton on Yankees injuries: "There's a lot of stuff going on with our team that nobody knows about, that we're trying not to let the media know." ... Gordon Edes on the Rodriguez slap: "I thought it was an act of desperation, and surprising coming from him. Clearly, the Yanks are feeling the pressure."

Eric Wilbur, Boston Globe: "There is a Game 7 tonight. Keep saying that and let it sink in. These are unprecedented moments in Red Sox history that we’re witnessing. Everything is going Boston’s way in this ALCS against the Yankees, and not against the Olde Towne Team. They've already overcome a 3-0 deficit, something no team in baseball history has ever done. There are no records for what a team has done in the seventh game after completing such a historic turnaround because again, IT HAS NEVER BEEN DONE."

Karen Guregian, Boston Herald: "For the Yankees, this is no longer just about advancing to the World Series. It's no longer just about continuing to torture their archrivals, and their fans. ... Tonight, in Game 7, it's about saving face. It's about avoiding the biggest choke job baseball has ever witnessed. It's about sparing themselves the embarrassment of living with that dubious label for posterity: losers of a 3-0 lead. No team has ever coughed up that kind of lead in a baseball best-of-seven series. No team has ever come back from that deficit. No team has ever rallied to win from that far behind. Ever."

Thomas Boswell, Washington Post: "What are the stakes now? If the Red Sox, the team synonymous with collapses, misfortune and despair, win Game 7, then, in a blink, the blackest mark in Yankees history will actually be darker than any disgrace in all Boston annals. If the Red Sox somehow win one more game, it won't make up for the last 86 years without a world title, while the Yanks have amassed 26 of them. ... But it will, for at least the next decade, and perhaps the next century, allow every Red Sox fan anywhere to face any New York fan and say, without fear of contradiction, 'How does it feel to root for a team with the biggest payroll ever that has the biggest choke in the history of the game?'"
They Need Help. Check out the front page of today's New York Post:

Yankee fans never tire of talking about "The Curse." Derek Jeter says, "Eventually, the ghosts will appear." ... The message behind all that blather seems to be an admission that the actual players pitching and hitting and fielding are simply not good enough to beat the opposition.

It's another way of saying: "We can't beat the Red Sox by ourselves, we need help from the spirit world." And that's sad.
"The Most Anticipated Game In Baseball History". That's what Peter Gammons is calling tonight's game. 8:00 pm can't get here fast enough.

Ed Cossette writes: "Talk about Red Sox! When I saw Schilling take the mound without the high top cleat but instead the low cleat and that blood soaked sock I teared up. I'm tearing up now again as I write about it."

Reading the Sox blogs this morning is doing the same thing to me. The awe, wonder, happiness, disbelief, anxiousness and whatever all else is wonderful to read. Some snips:

Sully: "Curt Schilling summed it up best for me when he said, "I am just so proud to be a part of this team." Well I am damn proud to have the privilege to root for this team. Can we, once and for all, place a moratorium on any commentary that makes it seem anything but fantastic to be a Boston Red Sox fan? No more curse references, no more self-pity. Enough."

Red: "On the flipside, we had A-Rod resorting to schoolboy tactics, blatantly knocking the ball from Arroyo's glove on a close play at first, then whining incessantly when he was called out for it." ... Video.

Sarah: "I couldn't stay in bed this morning. Even though our apartment is freezing cold, even though we didn't get to sleep finally until way past four in the morning, I just can't stay in bed. Life is simply too cool right now."

The Soxaholix: "When the miraculously and obviously on Curt Schilling played the chin music to A-Rod in the 1st, I got pregnant, immaculately." ... "If I had a kitten I'd name him, Ortizzle. If I had a puppy, I'd name him Papi. If I had a baby, I'd name him Walk-Off."

Ed again: "So here we are: Game 7. Can you believe it? We waited an entire year for this and now here it is. Derek Lowe, are you ready? We are."

John Powers, Globe: "Seventy-eight years, it has been, since the last time the Yankees lost the final two games of a best-of-seven series at home. ... [U]nless the beleaguered Bombers can win tonight's American League Championship Series finale at the Stadium, they'll become the first ball club ever to blow a 3-0 lead and go down as the biggest chokers in the history of organized baseball."

Gordon Edes, Globe: "Can 86 years of tainted history be swept clean by one sweet, absurdly improbable act of redemption, the likes of which has never been seen in hardball history? ... After what we have witnessed the last three days, is there anyone of the non-pinstriped segment of society who believes the Sox are not capable of finishing what will eclipse all the bitter disappointments of the past century as the defining moment of this franchise?"
Dan Shaughnessy. The Ninth has touched on something that I've been thinking about a lot for two weeks: "The Red Sox have just played two of the most dramatic postseason games in history, on consecutive nights, in one of the most dramatic situations in postseason history. No one can write about it because we're all going insane. You have any idea how difficult it is to sit down in front of a keyboard and approach this team rationally right now?"

In my late teens and early 20s I was a sportswriter and in the early 1990s, I covered concerts for various newspapers and magazines, so I know a little about writing on deadline. The Ninth says Dan Shaughnessy of the Globe "has lately been doing some of the best writing of his career." I usually don't read the CHB -- I'm beyond sick of his Curse-pimping and negative shots at so many Sox players -- but The Ninth is right.

Shaughnessy has been writing the Globe's front page game stories instead of his more opinionated columns. And all throughout this historic week, Shaughnessy has stepped up with poetic, concise, and stirring prose. (I'd love to know his lead time.) I'm really impressed. Check it out:

After Game 4: "Carlton Fisk in 1975. David Ortiz in 2004. Twelfth inning both times. Hold on to those tickets for this afternoon's fifth game of the American League Championship Series. The left-for-dead Red Sox are still breathing. Down three games to none, down 4-3, in the bottom of the ninth, the Sox last night rallied to tie the game against indomitable Yankee closer Mariano Rivera. They won it at 1:22 this morning when Ortiz hit a Paul Quantrill pitch into the Yankee bullpen to give the Red Sox a 6-4 Game 4 victory. A lot of Bostonians will be sleepy-eyed and late for work today. No problem. Everyone in New England will be wide-eyed when Pedro Martinez gets the ball at 5:10 for the start of Game 5. The Sox trail the American League Championship, 3 games to 1, but suddenly momentum has shifted Boston's way."

After Game 5: "New England is at once sleepless, breathless, and full of hope. David Ortiz and the Red Sox just beat the Yankees in two extra-inning playoff games on the same calendar day. This century-long Sox-Yankee show, featuring themes of revenge and redemption, moves back to New York tonight. In perhaps the most thrilling and torturous postseason game in 104 years of Red Sox baseball, the Sox last night beat the Yankees, 5-4, when the mythic Ortiz singled home Johnny Damon from second base in the bottom of the 14th at 10:59 p.m. It was the longest game in League Championship Series history (5 hours 49 minutes) and came less than 23 hours after the same Ortiz cracked a walkoff homer to win Game 4 at 1:22 yesterday morning. The Hub has never seen two days of baseball drama like this."

After Game 6: "Sunday night the Red Sox were three outs from being swept from the playoffs by the hated Yankees. They had lost a playoff game at Fenway Park by the humiliating score of 19-8 Saturday night and some members of their loyal Nation felt betrayed and abandoned. That was just a few long days, sleepless nights, and extra innings ago. But now the 2004 Boston Red Sox -- the wildest of wild-card entries -- are just one victory from hardball heaven and the greatest baseball comeback story ever told."

October 19, 2004

ALCS Game 6: Boston 4, New York 2. No baseball team has ever been down 3 games to 0 in a best-of-7 series and won three straight games to force a Game 7 -- until now. ... The 2004 Boston Red Sox have done it -- against the New York Yankees.

Curt Schilling went above and beyond anything and everything that was expected of him -- 7 innings, 4 hits, 0 walks, 1 run -- and Keith Foulke was nails in the 9th, striking out Clark after having walked the tying runs on base. Mark Bellhorn broke out of his series-long slump with a 3-run, opposite field home run in the 4th inning. Boston scored all of its runs in that inning off Jon Lieber.

The biggest play of the game came in the 8th inning. Bronson Arroyo relieved Schilling and struck out Tony Clark, but allowed a double to Miguel Cairo and an RBI-single to Derek Jeter, which cut the Red Sox's lead to 4-2. Alex Rodriguez tapped the ball down the first base line. Arroyo fielded it and went to tag Rodriguez and as he did, Rodriguez slapped the ball out of his hand. The ball rolled down the right field line, Jeter scored (4-3) and Rodriguez took second. After some discussion, the umpires ruled interference -- Rodriguez was the second out and Jeter was sent back to first. Arroyo then got Sheffield to foul out to Jason Varitek to end the inning.

The story so far:

Game 1: Yankees 10, Red Sox 7
Game 2: Yankees 3, Red Sox 1
Game 3: Yankees 19, Red Sox 8
Game 4: Red Sox 6, Yankees 4 (12 innings)
Game 5: Red Sox 5, Yankees 4 (14 innings)
Game 6: Red Sox 4, Yankees 2
Game 7: ?

ESPN's scroll: TBA v. TBA at 8:00 pm. ... Sounds like Lowe/Brown, with Wakefield/Hernandez waiting in the wings. Theo says Pedro is available -- shades of 1999? A pennant-clinching save in the Bronx? ... Less than 19 hours to go...
Surreal. Bill Simmons: "There have been 25 other baseball teams that fell behind 3-0 in a series. None of the 25 ever came back. Only two of those teams even forced a Game 6. So there's no real precedent for what's happened here, and I can't imagine there have ever been two straight playoff games like that, not with these stakes, not with that much emotion, not after everything that happened last season and the 80-plus seasons before it. For a miracle to happen, you need a shift in momentum that borderlines on the surreal. Games 4 and 5 were surreal. There's no other way to say it."
From Baseball Prospectus. Will Carroll, in his Under The Knife column:
"In his bullpen sessions, Schilling has been pitching with a "soft front leg," meaning he's not getting a solid plant, allowing his injured push ankle to come up quickly and not take any more stress than necessary. It's a natural reaction and one that could be overcome with his normal painkiller injection. Once he takes the mound, we'll know almost instantly how Schilling will pitch ..."
Also from BP, Joe Sheehan on last night's game:
"What's most interesting about the last two nights is how the events don't fit the storyline. Were it the Red Sox -- or the A's or Twins -- who had blown two late leads and lost games in extra innings to the Yankees, it would be easy for the media: use the words "clutch," "experience" and "veteran leadership" as many times as possible. ...

As it usually does, this is manifested most clearly in the case of Derek Jeter. Jeter has had a terrible series, batting .182/.357/.227 and making a couple of errors in the field. When he booted a ground ball last night, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver nearly hurt themselves in the rush to point out the bad hop that caused the miscue. ... That Jeter had bad at-bats in important moments doesn't make him a bad person or player. The point is that he's the same player in big situations that he is at other times. He doesn't have the ability to "will" his way into hits; no player in baseball does, because the game isn't designed that way."
Sheehan then looks ahead to tonight: "The Red Sox will be down 6-3 in the eighth, and David Ortiz will hit homers in the eighth and ninth to tie. He'll then throw two innings of shutout relief, striking out four and walking none, then win the game in the 11th, stealing second and third after being intentionally walked, and scoring on a blooper that falls in front of Bernie Williams."

Works for me.
Get Me Rewrite! As the clock struck midnight on Sunday night, down three games to none to the New York Yankees and trailing 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 4, the bottom three batters of the Red Sox lineup faced Mariano Rivera. I'm sure the beat writers in the press box, sensing a sweep, were writing their game story leads.

However, down on the field, Kevin Millar walked on 5 pitches. Dave Roberts pinch-ran and, on Rivera's first pitch, stole second. Bill Mueller singled to center and the game was tied. A bunt and an error put Mueller on third as the winning run with only 1 out. Rivera worked out of that bit of trouble -- Cabrera struck out, Manny walked and Ortiz popped to second -- but Boston won the game in the 12th inning, when Ortiz, in his next at-bat, cranked a two-run home run off Paul Quantrill. ... And later that day (!), Boston battled for 14 innings and came out on top, again led by one David Americo Ortiz, who has gladly taken the Red Sox and its fans on his back like Atlas.

Pedro -- He pitched out of jams in the 3rd and 4th while holding a slim 2-1 lead. He struck out Williams with runners on 1st & 3rd to end the 3rd and got out of a 1st & 2nd/no out mess in the 4th. He had thrown 82 pitches through five innings -- I thought he could go two more. But he ran into trouble in the 6th. With one out, Posada and Sierra both singled (88 pitches). Martinez took 7 pitches to strike out Clark (95) for the second out. He hit the #9 hitter Cairo with an inside fastball, loading the bases (97). (I don't think the bullpen was even up at this point.) Jeter, looking for a pitch outside, got one on a 1-1 count and doubled down the right field. All three runners scored (looked like Cairo was out on the replay) and New York led 4-2.

Pedro was now at an even 100 pitches. He plunked Rodriguez (102) and walked Sheffield (107). Myers and Timlin were up, but with Matsui at the plate, Francona stayed with Martinez. And I agreed with that move. Pedro fell behind 2-0, got a called strike and retired Matsui on a line out to Nixon in right. End of inning and end of Pedro's night (111 pitches). ... Pedro never had a 1-2-3 inning and didn't post the prettiest line -- 6-7-4-4-5-6 -- but he stranded 9 Yankee runners in those six innings, and did well enough, in my opinion.

Ortiz -- The big man singled in Boston's first run in the first inning and scored the second. He led off the bottom of the 8th with a opposite field shot into the Monster Seats off Tom Gordon. He walked in the 12th, but was called out trying to steal second. Replays showed he was safe and I actually didn't mind the attempt at that point.

And his AB in the 14th -- wow. Loazia -- in his 4th inning of relief -- had struck out Bellhorn, walked Damon and struck out Cabrera. Manny worked a 7-pitch walk and Damon went to second. Ortiz quickly fell behind 1-2, but then hung tight. He fouled off three straight pitches (the last one a long shot to deep right), took ball two, then fouled off 3 more. On the 10th pitch of the battle, he lined a single into center and Damon scored without a throw. ... Is there anything this man cannot do? I half expect him to pitch a scoreless inning tonight.

Millar/8th Inning Hit & Run -- After Ortiz's HR in the 8th brought Boston to within 1 run, Millar swung and missed at the first two pitches he saw. But he suddenly became patient and took four straight balls for a walk. Roberts came in to run and at that point, Gordon and Roberts began a lengthy cat-and-mouse game. Gordon threw Nixon a strike, but then went to first base 3 times. He also stepped off the rubber several times as Roberts danced back and forth. Obviously distracted (and perhaps a little tired (he threw 26 pitches in Game 4)), Gordon threw three pitches into the dirt, giving Nixon a 3-1 count. On a hit-and-run, Trot lined Gordon's next pitch to right center and Roberts raced to third. Perfect.

Rivera -- After Nixon's hit, Rivera came in with the bases loaded. Varitek hit a sacrifice fly to center to tie the game and Rivera had blown his second save of the day. It was the first time any pitcher has blown back-to-back saves during the Torre era. He threw 40 pitches in Game 4 and 22 more in Game 5.

Arroyo -- As Boston prepared to bat in the bottom of the ninth, Arroyo was warming up and Lowe, Wakefield and Schilling walked from the dugout to the bullpen. Would the rest of the starting rotation all be possible relievers? Arroyo had warmed up for the first time in the bottom of the 7th and he came in to pitch to the top of the New York lineup in the 10th. Jeter popped to short and both Rodriguez and Sheffield went down swinging. I would have liked to see Arroyo throw at least one more inning, but Francona brought in Myers to face Matsui in the 11th. Perhaps Arroyo is better used tonight.

Red Sox Bullpen -- In these last two games, the pen has been spectacular.
          IP   H   R  BB  K
Game 4    6.2  6   1  7   4
Game 5    8    5   0  3  10
That's an 0.61 ERA! ... After throwing 22 pitches Sunday, Foulke came out to throw 50 last night, finishing the 7th and pitching the 8th and 9th. After being unable to find the plate on Sunday, Myers came in and struck out Matsui on 4 pitches to open the 11th. ... And Tim Wakefield pitched the 12th, 13th and 14th innings, allowing only 1 hit and 1 (intentional) walk.

The walk came in the 13th, a inning in which Varitek was charged with 3 passed balls. Sheffield struck out, but reached first on PB #1. On a 3-1 count, Matsui forced Sheffield at second. Williams flew out to right for the second out. Wakefield's second pitch to Posada was PB #2 and Matsui advanced to second. The Sox decided to put Posada on base and deal with Sierra (who was 3-for-4 with 2 walks). Wakefield got ahead 0-2, but PB #3 moved the runners to 2nd & 3rd. Wakefield then threw ball 3 (argg - full count) before getting Sierra swinging at a pitch inside.

Tito -- 26 innings of baseball in only 30 hours has meant a lot of tough decisions. And his use of the bullpen in Games 4 & 5 has been brilliant. I wouldn't have wanted to be in his shoes.

It's been a soggy day in New York, so the field will be wet. ... Schilling/Lieber at 8:00 pm.

October 18, 2004

ALCS Game 5: Boston 5, New York 4 (14 innings). This is getting interesting. ... We go to New York and the Red Sox are in the same position as in 2003 -- needing 2 wins in 2 games. We can do this. ... I am a bit tipsy and blabbing -- but David Ortiz is a god among men (no news there) and Tim Wakefield is tough as nails. ... Curt/Lieber tomorrow night.

Two fillings to get replaced in the morning and I'll be back with more effusive ramblings in the afternoon. ... I love this team!!!

October 17, 2004

ALCS Game 4: Boston 6, New York 4 (12 innings). There -- now that wasn't so hard, was it?

Lowe pitches a solid 5.1, the Yankees blow leads of 2-0 and 4-3, Embree and Foulke pitch some ballsy relief, Boston scores the tying run off Rivera on only 8 pitches in the bottom of the 9th (Millar walk, Roberts SB, Mueller single up the middle that knocks Rivera on his ass), Cabrera grabs an A-Rod liner headed to left with a man at second in the 11th and then (with the bases loaded) Leskanic gets Williams on a fly to Damon to preserve the 4-4 tie, Manny singles to left off Quantrill to start the 12th and Ortiz follows by pounding a 2-1 fastball to right to give the Red Sox the win and force a Game 5 at later today.

Pedro/Mussina at 5:00 pm. ... Just win one game. Not three, not two. Only one. Tonight.
One. One game. One win. That's all.

Not four, not three, not two.



October 16, 2004

Win Today. Bronson Arroyo against the Yankees this year:
Date   IP   H   R   ER  BB   K   BF   PIT   Score

4/19 6.1 8 4 4 1 5 30 99 Boston 5-4
4/24 6 4 2 2 2 4 23 86 Boston 3-2
7/24 5.2 10 8 6 0 4 28 104 Boston 11-10
9/17 6 4 2 2 1 3 24 89 Boston 3-2
All outings were no decisions. Arroyo trailed 4-1 after 3 innings on April 19 (Patriots Day), but blanked the Yankees into the seventh and the Red Sox rallied to win 5-4. Five days later in Yankee Stadium, he pitched six strong innings and Boston won in 12 innings. July 24 was the rain-delayed brawl game and the September start was in the Bronx (Boston won that game with 2 runs in the top of the 9th off Rivera).

Speaking of Rivera, the rainout eliminated the off-day, so Torre has to be careful with when and where he uses his closer. He can't pitch five days in a row, so Boston needs to hit the Yankee starters early and get to the bullpen. There is no off day for the Sox bullpen either, but they have more relief depth than New York. ... The Red Sox should keep Lowe pitching Game 5 at home and have Pedro go in Game 6 in New York with an extra day's rest.

Schilling had what everyone describes as an encouraging session yesterday. He threw in the bullpen for more than 15 minutes (I heard on Fox he threw 70 pitches (?)) and, according to the Globe, "was able to push off the rubber with more force than on Tuesday in the Bronx. Schilling stopped twice during the throwing session to change shoes, going from a new high-top designed for him by Reebok to a traditional cleat and back to the Reebok to test the support for the ankle." Tito: "He threw with a lot more of a normal stride than in New York. That in itself was encouraging." ... The next step is another session, probably on Sunday.

The Yankees do not plan to change their rotation. Kevin Brown goes tonight, Orlando Hernandez on Sunday and Mike Mussina will pitch Monday (on an extra day's rest).

I feel good now, but I can tell that over the next 8 hours, I'll be slowly progressing from "confident" to "confident and a nervous wreck".

October 15, 2004

The Time Is Now. Bronson Arroyo -- with his "nuts the size of Saturn" -- is ready. ... The Red Sox were 7-3 against the Yankees at Fenway this year, taking 3-of-4 in April, 2-of-3 in July and 2-of-3 in September. They batted .322/.394/.553, scoring an average of 7.3 runs per game. ... Season totals:

Home: .306/.378/.504, 6.4 runs per game
Road: .260/.342/.441, 5.3 runs per game

Alan Embree thought back to the 2003 ALDS: "All (the A's) had to do was win one game at our place. If we win (tonight), there's not going to be that total sense of urgency that there is now. One win and everything changes." ... Heavy rain is expected tonight in Boston, beginning shortly before game time (8:19) and continuing through midnight. If tonight's game is postponed -- MLB has the final call -- it will be played on Monday.

October 14, 2004

Liar. From last night's debate:
Kerry: ... Six months after he said Osama bin Laden must be caught dead or alive, this president was asked, 'Where is Osama bin Laden?' He said, 'I don't know. I don't really think about him very much. I'm not that concerned.' We need a president who stays deadly focused on the real war on terror.

Moderator: Mr. President?

Bush: Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations.
Wrong (and this one). You can also read the White House's transcript from March 13, 2002:
I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you. ... And, again, I don't know where he is. I -- I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him.
Curt Speaks. At Dirt Dogs: "I tore this thing facing Miguel Cairo, the last out of the Yankee game during the regular season. And it popped on the first pitch thrown to him and there was some pain for, I threw five more pitches I think to finish that game, I was out of that game after that. Dr. Morgan diagnosed it probably 30 seconds after we got done looking at it. ... We had some issues in the Anaheim game. I got injected in third inning in Anaheim. And it flared up again later in that game. As far as tweaking it on the play, that last play where I threw the ball away against Anaheim ... that wasn't the trigger."
Lowe -- Not Schilling -- Starting Game 5. As announced by Francona. But it may rain. If Friday's game is postponed, it would be played on Monday. ... Schilling may still pitch at some point in the series.

Red Sox fans in Washington Heights: "The scene was pure New York: About 30 people gathered on a sidewalk, staring at a television someone had dragged onto a fire escape for the big game. To the right of the set, on the cement, was a freshly painted New York Yankees logo, as big as a beach towel. But to the left of the television, an unblemished Boston Red Sox logo graced the ground. 'The Yankees fans are over there,' said Al Duran, 24, painter of the logos, pointing to his boisterous neighbors a sidewalk crack away. 'This side is for Red Sox fans.'"

Were these guys sitting next to each other in the press box?
Bob Ryan, Boston Globe: "So much for the best-laid plans of mice, men, and Theo Epstein."
Sean McAdam, Providence Journal: "So much for the best-laid plans of mice, men and the Red Sox."
ALCS Game 2: New York 3, Boston 1. Where are the bats? In the first six innings of the two games, the Red Sox are a collective 1-for-37 (a single and a walk). Where are the goddamn bats?

Pedro pitched a hell of a game, considering 55,000 people were screaming and chanting at him from Pitch #1, good enough to win. ... And forget that silly angle of Martinez playing mind games with the Yankees with his Daddy quote. That's bullshit. What we saw and heard was a professional athlete unmasked, his guard completely down, actually saying what was in his heart. We aren't used to such brutal honesty -- that's why it was so shocking. I feel a little stab every time I see that clip.

Martinez didn't have his top-shelf stuff, though if the Fox guns can be believed (why should you believe anything from Fox?), he had his best fastball of the season (mid-90s from the start, even 97 at one point). He wasn't perfect with location, walking four and throwing 113 pitches in six innings. By contrast Lieber threw only 79 pitches through 7 innings and that included a 16-pitch battle with Damon in the 6th. He was excellent, got calls on the corners that Pedro did not, and was helped by some pathetic cuts from the Sox batters (I'm looking at you, Kevin (and shave that fucking brillo pad on your chin, please. You look like a fool.).

Friday. ... If there was ever a time for the "one-game-at-a-time" cliche, it's now. There is only one game to think about and that is the game to be played Friday night. Nothing else exists in the whole entire world. ... Arroyo/Brown.

October 13, 2004

Rut-Row. "Curt Schilling needs surgery on his injured right ankle, but the Red Sox hope he will still be able to pitch Game 5 of the AL championship series Sunday. ... The Red Sox said the sheath that covers a tendon in Schilling's ankle is torn. 'The tendon is snapping over the bone,' Red Sox physician Dr. Bill Morgan said Wednesday. ...

"Schilling pitched with a brace Tuesday and had a shot of painkiller in the ankle. Still, he had trouble pushing off the rubber with his right leg. The Red Sox hope a better brace will help, but if not, Schilling's season will be over. 'If we can get Curt's ankle stabilized to the point where the tendon stays in one place and he's able to have balance and drive and effective delivery, then he'll go out there and Start Game 5,' Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said. 'If we can't get him to the point where the ankle is stabilized, then he won't pitch. Because then we would risk further injury in his shoulder and he would be ineffective." Hoo-boy.

Schilling, last night: "If I can't go out there with something better than I had (last night), I'm not going back out there. ... I won't take the ball again." Also. And yet Francona said Curt didn't complain about any pain. Tito: "He just didn't look right. ... We talked when he came out. I don't think he was hurting. He just wasn't right."

Speaking of pain, Scott Williamson had Tommy John surgery on Monday. His doctor was shocked at what he found. "It looked like a grenade had gone off in there. The damage was far worse that the MRIs or any examination alluded to. ... I can't believe he was able to pitch with the elbow like that."

A Possible Sideshow: Pedro hit Sheffield with a pitch back on July 1. In an interview with SI, Sheffield said, "If he says one word to me, he's done. Pedro, your buddy pass is over. I've been playing for 17 years. ... If he tries anything again, I won't hurt my team, but I'm telling you, I will take care of him." ... Millar, who played with Sheffield on the Marlins: "He's just BS-ing. He's not going to do anything."
ALCS Game 1: New York 10, Boston 7. What did we learn? (1) Curt Schilling's ankle is apparently more of a problem that we thought. (2) The Yankees pitchers have to be perfect to keep a lid on the Boston offense, and after Mike Mussina, the pitchers are far from perfect. (3) It is never a good idea to spot your opponent 8 runs. [BSG's take.]

First 19 Red Sox batters: 0 baserunners, 8 strikeouts (including Damon, Bellhorn and Ramirez all caught looking in the 4th) and only 4 of 19 outs to the outfield. ... Next 12 Red Sox batters: 8 hits, 7 runs, 2 doubles, 1 triple (Tiz!), 1 home run (Varitek's first hit in the Bronx this year; better late than never). In a matter of minutes, the game goes from Mussina being up 8-0 and eight outs from a perfect game to Boston having the tying run on third base in the 8th inning.

At that point, Mariano Rivera came in and got Millar to pop out to Jeter. Damn. New York tacked on two insurance runs in the 8th. Still, Rivera allowed two one-out singles to Varitek and Cabrera. That brought Bill Mueller to the plate as the tying run and fans on both sides were no doubt thinking of Mueller's game-winning home run off Rivera back in July. But Mueller couldn't do it again. He tapped back to the hill for a 1-6-3 double play and Boston was down 1-0 with Game 2 tonight.

Schilling either simply had a bad night or his ankle is causing serious problems (or both). I don't think his fastball hit higher than 92 and he had trouble pushing off the rubber, so his pitches are a little flat. With two outs in the first, both Sheffield and Matsui doubled and Williams singled to give New York a quick 2-0 lead. Schilling needed only 10 pitches for a 1-2-3 2nd inning, but he fell apart in the 3rd. Jeter and Rodriguez singled, Sheffield walked and Matsui cleared the bases with a double to left. Posada's sac fly brought home the Yankees' sixth run.

In the 3rd inning, as Schilling struggled, Francona had Myers warming up. WTF? I thought Lowe and Mendoza were on the roster as the long men. So why was the LOOGY the first guy up? Schilling was one hit away from being pulled mid-inning, so maybe Francona was going to use Myers against Olerud or somebody. It really made no sense. Leskanic was now up and he came in for the 4th. From there, Francona used one pitcher per inning: Mendoza, Wakefield, Embree and Timlin (although Foulke was needed to get the last out in the 8th).

Boston scored 5 times in the 7th and 2 times in the 8th, cutting New York's lead to 8-7 and silencing the crowd. Plenty of nervous faces in Fox's crowd shots. Nice to see. ... Timlin began the 8th by getting Jeter, but then both Rodriguez and Sheffield singled to left. With Matsui up, this was the time for Myers. but as far as I can tell, he wasn't even warming up (Foulke was). Francona could have had Myers face Matsui and then Foulke for switch-hitters Williams and Posada. ... Timlin got Matsui to line to Cabrera, but Williams followed with a double over Manny's head in left for two runs. 10-7.

Fox's coverage was about as bad as expected. Buck and McCarver made numerous references to "Brandon" Arroyo, with McCarver at one point saying "Brandon" would be facing Pedro in Game 2. Buck added in the 3rd that Arroyo was available for long relief, although if he had actually prepared for the game, he would have known that Francona had said exactly the opposite for two days. ... In the first inning, Schilling got ahead of Jeter 0-2 and McCarver said Jeter is "an outstanding 2-strike hitter." Here are some splits:
            2004         2002-04


On 0-2 .286 .500 .287 .368
On 1-2 .167 .202 .193 .244
On 2-2 .256 .476 .226 .365
On 3-2 .250 .404 .301 .470
Is that really "outstanding"? What are the league averages with 2 strikes? ... And what the fuck was with McCarver talking about Jeter's "calm eyes"? (That's worse than saying (as he did last year) that one of Rivera's strengths is his "elegant gait" coming in from the bullpen.) Damn, Timmy, just propose to the guy and get it over with.

We heard several "Who's Your Daddy?" chants last night. I expect there will be a more of them tonight. Losing the first game doesn't worry me (New York lost Game 1 last ALCS), but I expect to see Pedro bring some serious shit tonight.


October 12, 2004

The Time Is Now. Karen writes from Virginia:
"I have never been more confident and free of stress in any Red Sox playoff series save the one they just played. It is On. Why Not Us? Why not indeed? It will be. I swear I feel like the planets are lining up and cosmic strings are emitting vibes that sound eerily similar to Dirty Water. I am not saying it will be easy and it may not be pretty in some instances, but, damn, it's going to be good. The pay off rendered by each and every moment will redeem every agonizing, wretched regurgitation of Sox playoff history suffered by the RSN at the hands of the sports media. ...

My throat is already hoarse and I completely and totally expect that I will be unable to speak come the end of this month. ... It's no longer a question of belief. This Boston Red Sox team, including D-Lowe, will take the RSN to where no one alive has been before. It is On and the bottom of my throat is choking with the inevitable gut wrenching cleansing. I just have to decide if I should go into debt to get WS tix or just fly to Boston to revel in the win with the only group of people that can truly understand."
I had that same sense of confidence last October, when Boston was down 0-2 to Oakland. No worries of choking, no sweating over the task of winning 3 straight games, just a calm that everything would be alright. I've never experienced that before and it was amazing. And I'm feeling it again. ... This series will not be easy; these two teams are very much alike. What will happen in the next week -- and who will do it (whatever "it" is)? How low will we be brought? How high will we be raised? My seven scorecards remain blank -- rows and columns of white boxes free of markings.

From Jose Melendez's "Keys to the Game":
"Whose side are you on? Whose side are you on? There are no grays, there is no nuance. Whose side are you on? There is nothing to finesse, no fences to straddle. Whose side are you on? There can be no changes of heart, no defections or conversions. Whose side are you on?"
As he did for the ALDS, Curt Schilling began tonight's SoSH game thread:
8 to go. Didn't we all know it would come to this to get to a World Series? This will hopefully be a series for the ages. Say what you want as fans about the Yankees, but they are at the top, and have been, for a long time. Beating them in a best of 7, is at best, at grind, which I expect. The energy should be incredible, the games should be the same. But again I ask ... "Why Not us?"
Game 1 Lineups:
Red Sox            Yankees

Damon cf Jeter ss
Bellhorn 2b Rodriguez 3b
Ramirez lf Sheffield rf
Ortiz dh Matsui lf
Millar 1b Williams dh
Nixon rf Posada c
Varitek c Olerud 1b
Cabrera ss Cairo 2b
Mueller 3b Lofton dh

Schilling p Mussina p
Revised Schedule. Fox has changed the starting time of Sunday's Game 5. All of the games now begin at the same time. Pre-game crap at 8:00 and first pitch around 8:20. The expected match-ups:

Game 1: Tuesday, October 12: Red Sox (Schilling) at Yankees (Mussina)
Game 2: Wednesday, October 13: Red Sox (Pedro) at Yankees (Lieber)

Game 3: Friday, October 15: Yankees (Brown) at Red Sox (Arroyo)
Game 4: Saturday, October 16: Yankees (Vazquez) at Red Sox (Wakefield)
Game 5: Sunday, October 17: Yankees (Mussina) at Red Sox (Schilling)

Game 6: Tuesday, October 19: Red Sox (Pedro) at Yankees (Lieber)
Game 7: Wednesday, October 20: Red Sox (Arroyo) at Yankees (Brown)

And how insufferable are McCarver and Buck going to be? I wish I had an option here in New York (WEEI has apparently synched their broadcast to avoid the radio delay), but I don't think I do.

What I find fascinating is that many Yankee fans also hate McCarver and believe he is wildly anti-Yankee. That blows my mind because I agree with Rob Neyer, who once said that McCarver would have Jeter's babies if such a thing was possible.

I'd love to know exactly what comments tick Yankee fans off. Do they think McCarver is pro-Red Sox, or maybe pro-Cardinals (and thus anti-Yankee)? Do they think that if you are more critical of the Bombers than Suzyn Waldman, you're anti-Yankee? Is the Kool-Aid that strong?
Predictions. The New York Daily News is in Daddy-overload (see below), but check it out: 5 of their 7 writers are picking the Red Sox. ... At the New York Post, the votes are split, with 4 picking Boston (in 5 or 6 games) and 4 picking New York (in 6 or 7 games).

At the Boston Globe: Gordon Edes, Bob Hohler, Dan Shaughnessy and Jackie MacMullan all say Red Sox in 7; Bob Ryan picks Sox in 5. ... At the Herald, Tony Massarotti says Red Sox in 6; Howard Bryant has Red Sox in 5. ... Garry Brown, Springfield Republican: "Red Sox will win the series in six games, and [Bellhorn] will have a lot to do with it."

Joy of Sox readers:
Red Sox in 5:  7 votes

Red Sox in 6: 8 votes
Red Sox in 7: 1 vote (with Millar MVP)

Yankees in 6: 1 vote
Yankees in 7: 1 vote
Me? Red Sox in 6.

Also, a few Yankee blogs and media links:
Replacement Level Yankees Weblog
Bronx Banter
Futility Infielder
Clifford's Big Red Blog

New York Post
New York Daily News
New York Times
Hartford Courant
Newark Star-Ledger
Why Not Us?. Not much to say about this one that hasn't been said elsewhere. The wait is over -- the battle begins.

Schilling: "I thought I had an idea of what it was going to be like when I signed last winter. I got a feel for it being around Boston, (but) when I went to Boston for the first time, I had no idea that it was going to be at the level it was right from the get-go, from spring training to early April all the way through the season." ... More Schilling: "I don't know I've ever pitched in a game that will have the atmosphere that tomorrow's has. During the World Series it was electric, but Yankees-Red Sox is a step above everything else."

Schilling is suffering from a high ankle sprain, but should be ready to pitch tonight. He suffered the injury in a start against Baltimore about a month ago, and exacerbated the problem last Tuesday in Anaheim. ... The Red Sox made one roster move: adding an 11th pitcher -- Ramiro Mendoza -- and dropping Kevin Youkilis. ... The Red Sox have no plans to bump Schilling up a day so he can pitch Game 4 on three days' rest. Sticking with the 4-man rotation will also give Pedro an extra day if he has to pitch Game 6. ... Mariano Rivera is expected back in New York in time for tonight's game, but the Yankees are also prepared to use Tom Gordon as their closer.

Boston get "Another Bite At The Apple" ... Jason Varitek at Yankee Stadium this year: 0-for-34 with 19 strikeouts. ... Recaps of the 19 regular season games.

More quotes: Tito: "It probably seems proper, to go through the Yankees. But if they'd wanted to lose, I'd have been OK with that, too." ... Manny Ramirez: "This is what you dream about -- Red Sox and Yankees. It's a new soap opera, Part 2. If we played Minnesota, it's not so good. It's a new matchup, a new year. It will be an unbelievable series."

Willie Randolph: "I love A-Rod, but I just think he handled that wrong. I think Alex overreacted in that situation. The Yankees in my day wouldn't have handled it that way." ... Speaking of which, it's nice to know that there is no love lost between Bill Lee and Graig Nettles.

ALCS Game 1. Curt Schilling on the ability of an opposing starting pitcher to set and change momentum: "I'm not sure I can think of any scenario more enjoyable than making 55,000 people from New York shut up."

There is no shortage of people that need shutting up:

October 10, 2004

Why I Want To Play The Yankees. It is not essential that the Red Sox play the Yankees en route to winning the World Series, but for myriad emotional, psychological and historical reasons, I believe it is necessary.

Can I be hurt more than I was last October? I'm not sure. ... I bought the current Sports Illustrated with Tom Verducci's "5 Outs To Go" story on the Red Sox and Cubs. I read some snips posted at SoSH and I felt so empty and angry after reading them, who knows when (or if) I'll read the entire article. If the Sox win 8 more games this year, I'll read it in November.

Anyway, it's clear to me that Yankee fans are scared of losing to us. They know it almost happened last year (only one of the most stupid decisions in all of baseball history prevented it) and it could damn well happen in the next week. They have never felt what that would be like -- it's going to be a rude awakening.

Email me with your predictions and in a little less than 52 hours from now, I'll post the results.

I'm also curious if people have an opinion on which is better: clinching both the ALCS/WS at Fenway (which would mean beating the Yankees in either 4 or 5 games) or clinching the ALCS in Yankee Stadium and the WS at Fenway (both would then be in a Game 6 or Game 7).

October 9, 2004

And So It Begins ... You know it had to be this way.

Game 1: Tuesday, October 12: Red Sox at Yankees, 8:00 pm
Game 2: Wednesday, October 13: Red Sox at Yankees, 8:00 pm
Game 3: Friday, October 15: Yankees at Red Sox, 8:00 pm
Game 4: Saturday, October 16: Yankees at Red Sox, 7:30 pm
Game 5: Sunday, October 17: Yankees at Red Sox, 4:00 pm
Game 6: Tuesday, October 19: Red Sox at Yankees, 8:00 pm
Game 7: Wednesday, October 20: Red Sox at Yankees, 8:00 pm
Meanwhile, In New York. Gotham fishwrap:

Filip Bondy, New York Daily News: "There was virtually no difference between the Bombers and Sox in 2003. ... Nothing that has happened this season, not even the Yanks' 101 regular-season victories, has changed my mind. Boston outplayed the Yankees head-to-head, outplayed them late in the season and outplayed them against top-tier competition. ... The classic, seven-game series last season with the Red Sox drained the Yankees, left them vulnerable against the lesser Marlins. Now the Yanks are a step behind where they were in 2003. They are being tested by the Twins in the first round, and may be left lifeless prey for their mortal enemies in the ALCS. The Bombers not only need to beat Minnesota. They need to defeat the Twins quickly, cleanly, without the melodrama in the next two games. That doesn't seem likely. But it's necessary, if the Yankees are to survive Minnesota, and then the real enemy."

Jay Greenberg, New York Post: "The Red Sox are not interested in history or anything other than winning the world championship they believe to be their destiny. The Angels were hot, loaded in the bullpen, savvy from their 2002 run to a world title and only idiots would want to play a team like that. But calling themselves exactly that, the Red Sox have blown out Anaheim twice ... They are loaded, act half-loaded, and all due respect to the fans whose misery they want to end, could care less about all that stuff, knowing they have the right stuff."

George Vecsey, New York Times: "One of these years, the Red Sox really ought to win it all. Like right now. ... Polish off the Angels this evening. Give us the weekend off. Then go into Yankee Stadium -- a foregone conclusion, doctor -- next Tuesday and commence shutting down the Yankees with Schilling and Martinez. ... In my early childhood, I was a fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers, with charismatic, skilled legends at almost every position. From 1946 through 1954, we ultimately experienced terrible pain every autumn. Our suffering seemed like forever. In reality, it was only nine years. In 1955, the Boys of Summer won a World Series. Just one. I can still hear the bells chiming all over Brooklyn. The Sox haven't won a World Series since 1918. Might I suggest they are overdue? Please, somebody, cowboy or idiot, star or sub, please take everybody -- even those of us who observe from an emotional distance -- out of this ancient misery."

John Harper, New York Daily News: "[O]nly minutes after David Ortiz had hit his 10th inning, game-winning home run, delirious fans spilling out into the crowded corridors of Fenway Park quickly turned their attention to their obsession with their hated rivals ... Even before the Sox had finished off the Angels, it seemed all of New England had turned its eyes toward the Yankees, actually rooting for them for a change to set up the ALCS rematch. ... [M]aybe this is a different October for this team. Red Sox Nation seems sure of it. So sure, it's rooting for the Yankees at the moment."

Roger Rubin, New York Daily News: "Okay, Yankees fans, the Red Sox have completed their part of the bargain."

Vazquez/Santana at 4:00 pm.