Ten RED SOX Days in 2004
I'm quite sure all seven of you have seen the Jimmy Fallon stinker "Fever Pitch". I have although I didn't have to. I actually lived it. Hot on the heels of heartbreak the year before, 2004 was supposed to be deliverance. Here are ten dates from that slow-simmering season that eventually boiled over to a fever pitch. Then history. So cowboy up.
- 1.July 24 - Take Me Out To The Brawlgame (Game 97)There was a scene in "Fever Pitch" about a Red Sox comeback win over the Yankees late in the season. There was indeed a come-from-behind game against New York but it happened in July. The Sox came back from 5 runs down to beat the Yanks 11-10. Boston 3B Bill Mueller hit a moonshot off closer Mariano Rivera to win it. And oh yeah, this was the game where Sox catcher Jason Varitek gave Yankee villain Alex Rodriguez a face wash - that sparked an infamous bench-clearing brawl.
- 2.July 25 - John Kerry, Meet Red Sox Nation (Game 98)Massachusetts senator John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic nominee for president came to Fenway Park and was lustily greeted with boos by the Sox faithful. I was pulling for a Kerry victory that November but mid-summer polls indicated that Americans were leaning to four more years of George W. Bush. The Bosox won, 9-6 but remained 8 games back of New York. At this point in the season, Kerry had a better shot at being president than the Sox were of being World Series champions.
- 3.August 1 - Goodbye Nomar (Game 103)Popular shortstop Nomar Garciaparra was dealt away at the trade deadline. In return, Boston GM Theo Epstein took three players, utility men Doug Mientkiewicz and Dave Roberts and SS Orlando Cabrera in separate deals. All 3 played crucial roles during the October run but the Sox lost this particular game at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. They managed 2 hits against Twins ace Johan Santana, both dingers. A 2-run HR by LF Manny Ramirez and a solo shot by Cabrera - his first ever Red Sox at-bat.
- 4.October 8 - The Green Monster (ALDS Game 3)The Sox were back at the Fens after whipping the Angels twice in Anaheim. By mid-game, it looked as though Boston was well on it's way to a complete dismantling of the AL West champs, leading 5-1. But Red Sox relievers coughed up the lead and the score was tied at 6 heading into the bottom of the 9th. Enter lefty David Ortiz. With one on and two outs, Big Papi went deep to the opposite side. A monster blast over the monster wall to clinch the series and a chance at redemption in the ALCS.
- 5.October 17 - The Clock Strikes Midnight (ALCS Game 4)It was a misty, bitingly cold night at Fenway Park. Boston was one loss away from being swept out of the post-season by New York. And down one run in the bottom 9th. Sox bench boss Terry Francona sends Dave Roberts to pinch run. Boston killer Mariano Rivera on the mound. Roberts steals second and then scores on a bloop single. Tied game. Extra innings. Where in the bottom 12th with one on, David Ortiz hits a mammoth to right, his 2nd walkoff in the post-season. Sox win. Clock reads 11:59PM.
- 6.October 18 - Mister October (ALCS Game 5)For the second game in a row, Rivera couldn't hold a lead. 2 blown saves in 24 hours and third in Boston for 2004. And once again, the game goes past nine innings. Where in the bottom of the 14th, the winning run crosses the plate courtesy of who else? Big Papi and his third game winner of October. Red Sox refuse to die. On to Yankee Stadium for Game 6.
- 7.October 19 - The Bloody Sox ( ALCS Game 6)21-game winner Curt Schilling suffered an ankle injury in the first game of the playoffs in Anaheim. The injury was so severe, it contributed to his disastrous outing in Game 1 of the LCS. But Schilling was determined to pitch again. He underwent a procedure so unique it came to be known as the Schilling Procedure. He pitched Game 6 on a bleeding ankle but performed brilliantly, allowing 1 run on 4 hits. Sox win a tense game to force an all-or-nothing showdown in the Bronx the following night.
- 8.October 20 - Who's Your Papi? ( ALCS Game 7)The series was tied but it might as well be over. And it was over early. Powered by CF Johnny Damon's 2 home runs, one a grand slam, Boston routed New York 10-3 to win the American League crown, the first team in baseball to come back from a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs and win. They now face the National League winners St. Louis Cardinals in the 100th World Series. On to the Fens for the Big Show.
- 9.October 23 - Sweet Baby James (World Series Game 1)Fenway Park and the first World Series game in 18 years. Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who sacrificed a start in the LCS to do yeoman's work in relief finally gets one as a starter. But the Sox already looked like winners. Destiny beckons. The highlight for me was watching my boyhood favourite, Boston's own James Taylor sing the Star-Spangled Banner. All is well in New England. And so was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston.
- 10.October 27 - To Bucky, Buckner and The Great Bambino (World Series Game 4)The Boston Red Sox are World Series Champions for the first time in 86 years. And guess who's on the field in Busch Stadium to celebrate? Jimmy Fallon. In a bit of tweaking for the storyboard. Afterall, the movie was about the Red Sox, a team that wins nothing in the end. This time, they did. Curse lifted. The curse of losing when it counted. Boston will win two more in the next ten years. But this one was different. This was history. And I lived it. GO SOX.