Anything can happen. That was the goddam mission statement of the 2004 Red Sox season. One minute we’re watching our boys go down three games to none in the ALCS, ready to self-administer the hornet enema, and the next we’re playing grab-ass with Manny, Foulke and Bellhorn all the way down Boylston Street. And it seemed that in practically every game of that fabled postseason, Ortizzle was carrying us on his mighty shoulders. Even when we wanted to throw in the towel, he’d shout, “F–k that noise,” reach his beefy mitts through the TV screen, and slap us around until we started understanding that there were greater forces at work here. All the tears and extra innings and bloodshot eyes were tantamount to otherworldy heroics, and more often than not, Big Papi was the guy making it all happen. Just ask Tom Gordon.
Anyway. Yesterday. We’re toast, right? Cooked. On the verge of losing 3 of 4 to a team that has not one but two guys named “B.J.” And there’s something un-American about that. So we’re crucifying Foulke and shedding a tear for The Emancipator, who misses out on the chance to go 7-0. And as the ass-end of the ninth rolls around, and Damon leads off by flying out, we’re penciling this in as a loss. And one of the more spirit-crushing losses of the season at that. Then Bellhorn gets on base, but Youk strikes out, and we know it’s over, so we start thinking about that sandwich we left in the fridge last night. Or that girl we haven’t called in a while. Because it’s time to do something other than watch baseball, as this afternoon fistfest is most surely about to end.
But then Edgah lays down a totally f–king sexy bunt, right down the third base line. And we’re hanging up the phone and putting away the chips and watching Ortiz come up to the plate with the game on the line and we say, “no way.” We used up all our get out of jail free cards last October, and there’s nothin’ gonna change the outcome of this game. So would you please just end this charade, this pointless tease, and let us get back to our miserable lives and short stack of cold cuts?
But Ortizzle isn’t listening. He runs the count full, pulling everyone in the goddam Nation to the edges of our seats. Then in one cataclysmic moment, he tears the cover off the ball, sending it hurtling into the centerfield bleachers and transporting us all back to those blurry, never-ending autumn nights.
And, as if someone somewhere was scripting this stuff, trying to interject a little more October magic into the first few days of June, the next two series will see the Sox squaring off against the Angels and the Cardinals. Booyah.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some leaves to rake up.
Oh, and in the midst of this whirlwind, the Yankees get swept by the Royals, with Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson and Carl Pavano all failing to get a W against the worst team in baseball. It won’t be long until they’re back on top… but for now, this is just kind of amusing.