Monday, October 11, 2004

ALDS Game 3

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 8, Anaheim Angels 6

Oh my sweet gentle Jeebus that was a game. It wasn't supposed to be that close, but it was the sort of victory that made you jump up and down and scream "I LOVE DAVID ORTIZ!" into a phone* and sigh with relief BECAUSE not only had the Sox swept a team in the playoffs for only the second time in their history, not only did they beat the hard hitting, hard throwing, hard PITCHING Angels, not only were some of the ghosts from last year put to rest, but the Sox DIDN'T GIVE UP. This was not game 7 last year. Last year, when the Yankees tied the game up, you could feel the crowd deflate. You could feel the team deflate. I sat on the couch in my godmother's team on Long Island and just waited for the game to end. When Aaron Boone put that ball over the left field wall, I was hurt, but I wasn't surprised. On Friday night, as soon as the bullpen proved that, even after Timlin's mistake, they weren't giving the game up, the mood change was palpable. Sure, it took a few innings to make a dent on K-Rod, but he's K-Rod, for chrissake. Keith Foulke showed just why it was a damn good idea to pick him up and D-Lowe, after he got over some jitters, got the three groundball outs needed to end the game. Fenway Park, which was dead quiet** after Guerrero's game-tying grand slam, came back to life. People could feel the air changing, or something like that.

In the bottom of the tenth, after Rodriguez has given up his second hit of the night, Mike Scioscia pulls a Grady Little - he pitches the wrong pitcher at the wrong time. Sure, K-Rod was done for the night, but Scioscia trusted the numbers a bit too much - it doesn't matter that Washburn is a lefty who's roughly as effective against lefties as right-handed Percival, going up against a guy who hits righties MUCH better than lefties, Washburn got shelled on his last start and David Ortiz was a big part of that shelling. I had a bad (or a good, I guess) feeling about that decision as soon as I heard he had gone with Washburn. Then Ortiz comes up and first pitch swinging, brings the house down. It was...I dunno, it was pretty indescribable. I remember jumping up, yelling at the ball to go up and leave the park so I could leave for the weekend without having to bring a radio and so the uncertainty would be over and the Sox would get a three day rest break before the ALCS. And, of course, it did.

I just watched the highlight video again and I remembered something that I had forgotten until now: ESPN's color commentator is a moron. My dad and I realized this in the eighth or ninth, when Ortiz got on base and the commentator suggested taking him out and pinch-running Dave Roberts - even though, with the Angels outfield, it would have been difficult to score from first base no matter what. Nixon got a walk after that, if I remember correctly, so the point was moot - until, of course, when Big Papi ended the game with his bomb. Yeah, I'd say Mr. Fancy-pants armchair coach ate his words.

When I came back from the wilds of the woods, I found out that the Yankees had taken two games in Minnesota and thus had won their part of the ALDS. Before leaving, I had heard some commentary on whether or not the Sox needed to face the Yankees this year in the post-season to appease the Gods of Karma on their way to the World Series or something like that. Bill Simmons was against the idea - he could beat "Expos in the World Series with Frank Robinson playing first base. I just want to win one. I'm not looking for a degree of difficulty here." Ted Serandis, on WEEI, seems to like the Karma appeasement idea. Personally, I'm with Bill - besides the potential for relationship strain this series has (just kidding), going up against the Yankees in the post-season after last year is just asking for more strain on the heart. Of course, it's a moot point now, so I better start enjoying it. Hell, who wants to play the Twins, anyway? This sort of series is good for baseball.

Nikki told me that on Saturday, after the Yankees won the game, her brother came back to the table in the restaurant where she and her family were eating and told her, "Call Eric. Tell him to be at K.C.'s Sports Bar on Tuesday. Tell him I'm buying the first drink, because he'll need it." So, of course, after being called out like that, I'll be in the Bronx (hopefully with Robin, if he calls me back), at K.C.'s. Who could resist? And, of course, I'm going with Curt "Post-Season Pitching God" Schilling all the way. GO SOX!!!

* - Ok, it made me do that. But I know other people were doing similar things.
** - When ESPN replayed the grand slam, there was crowd noise in the background. That was bull; when Vlad hit that thing, you could hear a pin drop, a baby cry and the hearts of 34,000 Sox fans in Fenway and hundreds of thousands more across the country say, "Oh God...not again..."