Monday, October 22, 2007

2007 ALCS Game 7: Don't Stop Believing!

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 11, Cleveland Indians 2

Working hard to get my fill/Everybody wants a thrill/Payin' anything to roll the dice/Just one more time

This is step two...Sox win the pennant for the 2nd time in 4 years and they did it again with a miraculous comeback. I am too excited to be happy, too happy to be drunk and too drunk to be awake… but somehow I am all of those things. It’s like a euphoric waking coma that I now share with the rest of Red Sox Nation. What a place to be.

Oh man, I need to unwind a second. That was a rough week of baseball, any way you cut it. When I step back and see that the Sox outscored the Indians 30-5 over 3 games I can’t believe it… weren’t these all so close? Game 7 was a game of inches right?

With all of the old mojo the Sox trotted out before the game, I kept checking to make sure I didn’t accidentally go back in time to 2004. Kevin Millar threw out the first pitch and read off the Sox starting lineup. Last time I checked he was on the Baltimore Orioles, one of our division rivals… but who cares! It was just great to see Millar drunk, happy and in Fenway again. Sure he called Ellsbury “Jacob” and Dice-K “Danielle” but it was worth it just to reconnect with a former player that came up big… with a walk… in game 4… of a series that happened 3 years ago. Hmmmm… maybe I am reading too much into this… it was just great to see Millar!

Anyway, Dice-K came out looking like he might be worth SOME of that $51 million, while Westbrook was hankering for one of Paul Byrds HGH shots. Sox put up runs in the first three innings, every little break was falling for Boston, the Indians looked rattled and the road to the Rockies looked a lot shorter. That’s usually when the wheels come off.

Dice-K got hit and hit quick in the 4th and 5th innings. He looked completely gassed, but Francona let him finish the 5th while the rest of Sox Nation tried not to have flashbacks to Grady Little. Lofton pounded a ball off the Monster and Manny gunned him down at second (looked safe). Then it was hit after hit before Dice-K managed to strike out Asdrubal to end the inning. The Tribe only plated two runs, but this happened to coincide with Westbrook suddenly remembering how to pitch. The Sox must have hit into a billion inning ending double plays and I think I was downing a beer after each one. The tension was unbearable.

Some will win, some will lose/Some were born to sing the blues/Oh, the movie never ends/It goes on and on and on and on

The Sox sent out Oki for a two inning hold, and he participated in the one of the scariest sequences of the season. With one out in the 7th, Lofton (why is he ALWAYS involved?) slaps a shallow popup down the leftfield line… and Lugo drops it. The string of obscenities that flowed from my mouth as Lofton reached second would make a sailor blush. And then the momentum shifted again…

For some reason I still don’t understand, Lofton was held at third on a Gutierrez single down the line. He could have walked in and tied the game… but he got the stop sign. So now with runners in first and third, Oki gets Casey “Bad Beard” Blake to ground into a inning ending, rally killing, thought only Sox could do that, double play. Suddenly I could breathe again.

Then it was like someone let the air out of a balloon. The pressure just disappeared. With Jacoby reaching on an error, Pedroia SLAMMED a ball over the Monster for 2 insurance runs. Then in the 8th the Sox took the formally un-hittable Betancourt to school for the tune of 4 runs (Dusty with a bases clearing double) and Youk slammed a 2 run shot off Lewis and the Coke bottles. What the hell happened? No more drama! No more finger chewing! No more doubt! Papelbon came in to clean up the 9th (with a great catch by Coco to end it) and it never looked so routine. The rough and tumble Indians left the ALCS with a whimper. Not their proudest moment.

Un-freaking-real. This series comeback might not be as sweet at it was in 2004 (it’s not the Yankees and it’s not 0-3) but it still tastes mighty good. The bizarre thing about this series is that I never thought it was over and done for the Sox… sure I felt down when they fell into the 1-3 hole… but I never felt like it was over for them. Is that what 2004 did for us as a fan base? Instead of pessimism when the chips are down, is our faith now bolstered by the fact that we KNOW the Sox can comeback from anything? I never stopped believing, never stopped hoping, cause I knew… somehow I just knew… that this was going to go our way. This is the apex of the strange new world of the Red Sox fan. No longer underdogs, now we’re perennial contenders and our belief has never been stronger. Go crazy people… party like it’s 2004 'cause the Sox are going to the World Series.

Don't stop believin'/Hold on to the feelin