“Why ‘Surviving Grady’?” you ask?
Before you go any further, there is no curse.
If you want to believe in a Red Sox curse, or you can’t figure out why having Father Guido Sarducci perform an exorcism at Fenway Park didn’t help the Sox win a World Series, please go away. If you agree that the Red Sox simply have not had the combination of pitching, hitting, defense and managers to win for the past 80-odd years, then welcome to survivinggrady.com. Part of what we are trying to do here is dispel myths, crutches and excuses, and come to grips with facts.So, here they are:1946 – The Sox go up against a hot pitcher, Harry Brecheen, who wins three games in the series with a 0.45 ERA. Ted Williams hits .200 in the series, end of story.
1967 – The Impossible Dream team. Gibson was better than Lonborg, look it up if you don’t believe me. St. Louis also had a guy named Roger Maris you may have heard of.
1975 – Another 7-game series, and as close as you can come without winning it (until 1986 anyway). After Fisk’s famous game 6 homerun, it just seemed like destiny. Good late-inning pitching beats destiny every time. Sox blow a one-run lead in the seventh and give up the tiebreaker in the ninth.
1978 – The Boston Massacre. Bucky F’ing Dent. A choke of epic proportions.
1986 – One strike away. How that phrase will haunt me until the Red Sox win a World Series. I was sitting in the Olde Irish Ale House in West Roxbury with my complimentary champagne in hand when “it” happened. Who doesn’t remember where they were? For the record, it was John McNamara who blew the game, not Bill Buckner. Dave Stapleton was playing first for defensive purposes late in all of the other games that the Sox had a lead, but McNamara wanted Buckner on the field when the Sox won.
2003 – Grady. You know the story.
So, you might ask “why not survivingbuckydent.com or lifeafterbuckner.com”?
Quite simply, Grady Little hurt us more. Maybe because it was against the Yankees. Maybe because it is most recent in our memories. Maybe because the 2003 Red Sox had a team capable of winning the World Series. But more likely it is because Grady had so many chances to make the right move. It wasn’t just one under-the-gun, could-go-either-way decision. It was several chances to make the right decision with all of the statistical facts backing him. This is going to hurt, but let’s go through it.
We’ll pick it up in the bottom of the seventh with the Red Sox leading 4-1.
H Matsui grounded out to second.
J Posada lined out to center.
J Giambi homered to right center.
E Wilson reached on infield single to first.
K Garcia singled to right, E Wilson to second.
A Soriano struck out swinging.1 run, 3 hits, 0 errors
Boston 4, NY Yankees 2
Clearly, Pedro was done. It took everything he had to get Soriano, and his pitch count was over 100. Timlin and Williamson had been outstanding in the post-season in the set-up and closer roles respectively. In each of the 3 wins the Sox had in this series, Timlin pitched the eighth, Williamson the ninth.
Top of the 8th inning
M Ramirez grounded out to third.
D Wells relieved J Nelson.
D Ortiz homered to right.
K Millar grounded out to shortstop.
T Nixon popped out to shortstop.
1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors
Boston 5, NY Yankees 2
With a three-run lead, it seemed evident that Timlin would start the eighth, but Grady stuck with Pedro. Mistake number one.
NY YANKEES 8TH
Bottom of the 8th inning
N Johnson popped out to shortstop.
D Jeter doubled to deep right.
At this point, Timlin is ready. Grady makes no move to the bullpen. Mistake number two.
B Williams singled to center, D Jeter scored.
Pitch count at 115. Lefty hitter Matsui coming up. Timlin and Embree are both ready. Grady actually visits the mound but does not remove Pedro. Mistake number three.
H Matsui hit a ground rule double to deep right, B Williams to third.
Pitch count 118. Timlin and Embree still ready. Switch-hitting Jorge Posada due up. Grady again makes no move. Mistake number four.
J Posada doubled to center, B Williams and H Matsui scored.
With the score tied and Pedro now mentally beaten as well as physically, Grady makes the move.
A Embree relieved P Martinez.
J Giambi flied out to center.
M Timlin relieved A Embree.
R Sierra hit for E Wilson.
R Sierra intentionally walked.
A Boone ran for R Sierra.
K Garcia walked, J Posada to third, A Boone to second.
A Soriano grounded into fielder’s choice to second, K Garcia out at second.
The score is tied 5-5. Aaron Boone eventually hits the first pitch of the eleventh out of the park off Tim Wakefield, but in the hearts and minds of true Sox fans, this game was over in the eighth.
So, there it is. Six months later we are still talking about it, thinking about it and fantasizing that it never happened. But it did, and Grady Little should be remembered as the biggest goat this baseball town has ever seen. Let’s face it, the Yankees never hung pictures of Buckner up to count strikeouts, did they?
Click here to read what the Remdawg himself says about game 7 in his new book, “Watching Baseball: Discovering the Game within the Game”.
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