Spring Training is underway, but for the past couple evenings I’ve been hanging out in the Wayback Machine, watching NESN’s recasts of Games One and Two of the 2004 World Series. Besides giving me my all-important Remy fix [speaking of the Rem Dawg, this is the greatest idea in the history of ideas], watching Game One reminded me of how much of a nail-biting nutbustfest this Series could have been.
In many ways, beating the Yankees was a mini World Series victory unto itself, and my feeble, vodka-pulverized mind was barely able to process the fact that we still had another hurdle to clear. We knew the Cards were tenacious. We knew LaRussa was a crafty manager. We also wondered aloud if our boys didn’t have every last ounce of fire sucked out of them by the madness that was the ALCS.
But then the first inning of Game One happened, and before ass could meet chair, Ortizzle was shuffling around the bases on the heels of a three-run homer. Later, we’d barely downed our second Hamms when we found ourselves on the pretty end of a 7-2 lead. Nice.
But the Cards just. wouldn’t. die. And their comeback was sealed in the eighth, aided by a couple of Manny errors. The first of those errors, a bizarre miscue on a Renteria single to left, set Manny off on some wack-ass skid-slide that, in terms of sheer ugliness, is surpassed only by Michael Stipe’s epileptic white boy shuffle in the video for R.E.M.’s “Radio Song.”
Watching it the first time, my reaction was, “Please, God, tell me his leg didn’t just snap like a sick carrot.” This time around, however, I simply smiled and waited patiently for the bottom of the inning, when Bellhorn took Tavarez deep off Pesky’s Pole. Did you see that little “point” Bell gave his homies in the dugout after that shot? Pretty f–king cool, that point was. And somewhere, the phone Tavarez punched just a few months earlier was saying, “Suck on that, buddy.”
Anyway, the Cards never quite recovered from Bellhorn’s home run. Up to that point, it looked like this thing was gonna go the distance, keeping us red-eyed and hungover for yet another week. But that home run was mighty. Hell, it even came with its own sound effect as it slapped against the Pole — a dazzling, satisfying “keeeeesh” that I still hear in my sleep. Along with, you know, the voice that tells me I should have bought that Oracle stock when I had the chance.
Even having all this time to reflect on it, it’s still so f–ked up and crazy and blissful and surreal and awe-inspiring. And I thank NESN for taking me back there, and letting me bask in the afterglow for one last week, before I start worrying about Curt’s ankle and Wells’ liver.