The 2003 ALCS left me a quivering pool of Irish oatmeal, barely able to take on solid food and haunted by images of a shirtless Grady Little, taunting me from a secret base on the moon while Aaron Boone repeatedly stomped on my nuts with a ski boot (hey, I just have the dreams, buddy. I can’t explain ‘em).
The only thing that got me through 2003 — the only thing that helped me regain the will to live, really — was watching the Florida Marlins, and Josh Beckett in particular, stomp all over the Yankees’ championship aspirations. I took distinct and immeasurable pleasure in watching Matsui and Posada and Giambi and Jeter and Torre sit slack-jawed in their dugout, in their goddam stadium, wondering how in the hell they’d wangled their way past Boston only to end up with one of Beckett’s cowboy boots wedged up their south 40s in the final game of the World Series. It was a big, loud, audacious middle finger to the entire city of New York, and by crushing our sworn enemies, Beckett gained honorary Red Sock status in my mind (similar to that time Swamp-Thing was allowed into the Justice League after offering to co-sign an auto loan for Green Arrow.)
Now he’s one of us. And watching him setting down opposing batters with extreme prejudice is like watching John Holmes put it to the ladies — this is a guy who knows what he’s doing, people, so just stand the f@#k back and let him work. Throughout the season, he was impressive, but in the post-season, he’s become something other than human, driving a monster truck over any fears I might have had of a Red Sox collapse, all the while making beer-chugging, soul-patch growing, model-chick snogging, F-bomb dropping and Kenny-Lofton-threatening fun again.
So far in this post-season, he’s 4-0 with a puny 1.20 ERA, about as sure a thing as you can find, and he seems to come up bigger with every start. Without Commander Kick Ass of the F@#k Yeah Brigade, we don’t make it through Cleveland. Hell, we might not have made it past Anaheim (okay, that might be pushing it. But still.). And after last night’s win, in which he was assisted by an offense that is officially nuclear powered, he’s fixin’ to carry us again, providing that all-important fear factor.
In fact, the only reason I’d hate to see a Sox sweep is that I’m still not convinced we’ve seen the full scope of his 2007 bad-assery. I want another Beckett start, goddam it, because you know the guy’s still holding something unstoppably awesome — be it a World Series no-hitter or the first ever shut-out-thrown-while-servicing-two-ladies-simultaneously-and-drunk-on-Coors — up his sleeve.