Some days, I just can’t recognize my pre-2004 self. The guy who knew nothing but bitter failure. Nails on chalkboards. Knees to nutsacks. The guy for whom every baseball season ended with bruised knuckles; hoarse voice; puffy, tear-stained eyes; and cigarettes floating in the last swig of beer.
Oh I know he’s there. And he’s what keeps me grounded in moments when every part of me wants to take flight over Kenmore Square, waving a banner that proclaims WE ARE THE MOTHERF@#KING BOSTON RED SOX, CHUMPS, AND THOSE WHO OPPOSE US WILL TASTE THE LIGHTNING! Moments like early this morning, when JD Drew, who is morphing into our own li’l Mr. October–and, more significantly, hasn’t done much bat swingin’ over the past couple months due to an ailing back–launched a two run home run that broke a 5-5 tie and pointed us toward victory in the second game of the ALDS. Now all we need is one win. And the next two games are at home.
Last night, it looked like it might slip away, even after Jason Being Jason smacked a three-run homer in the first. We stopped scoring, and the Angels kept chipping away. When the Halos tied it up in the eighth, I did a quick last rites, as you can see in the liveblog below. We’ve already got one, I conceded. We just needed the split, had to avoid getting swept. But that was the pre-2004 Red thinking. Before I knew what was happening, Papi cracked a monstrous double. Then Drew, after swinging at a couple pitches like he was trying to swat a rabid polecat with a rake, went yard. Sox up, 7-5. Then a blur of a bottom of the ninth, in which the Bot smoked the Angels down to the filter, and Youk–whose beard has reached “full hillbilly” mode for the playoffs–making an exceptional grab of a pop foul over the camera pit. Advantage: us.
Before the asstastic season that was 2004 (and in my world, “asstastic” is good, since ass rules), we folded like deck chairs in key playoff situations. Now we’re coming up aces every time, it seems. It’s an embarrassment of riches, to be sure. A one-way ticket from the outhouse to the penthouse. And it has been one hell of a ride these past few years.
But I never forget pre-2004 Red. And because of him, I just can’t make my ALCS plans until the final out of our third victory against the Angels. Although I do hear Tampa Bay’s lovely this time of year…