With Dave Roberts in the house to throw out the first pitch of the second game, there was never really a question as to whether or not the Sox could take both games of yesterday’s twi-nighter and extend the win streak to seven games. The only thing we didn’t know was whether or not Roberts himself would suit up, get into the line-up, and play at least one inning so we could give him the proper send-off as he walks off the Fenway grass in a Red Sox uniform.
If you’re looking for the Single Greatest Moment in Red Sox History, it’s really down to The Steal and the day Amalie Benjamin was assigned to the Sox beat. And I think The Steal has a slight edge, if only because it saved our lives. All of our lives. Seriously, after the travesty of 2003, if Roberts had been out and we had to watch the Yankees celebrate another ALCS victory over us–on our home turf no less–I think the line of taxis heading from Lansdowne to the Tobin would have tangled up Kenmore for months. Roberts is and always will be the de facto Mayor of Boston, and as I mentioned a couple days back, I think Menino should respectfully step down and let Roberts take over because the guy did more to help us in ten seconds than Hizzoner’s done in more than a decade.
Without The Steal, nothing good happens. It was the catalyst. The turnaround. The blast of gamma radiation that turned a team of beat-down dudes into the Ultimate Machine of Torment and Alleged Jack Daniels Slurping. If it doesn’t happen, we get no parade, no sunshine, no expulsion of the deeply held belief that God really wants to see us cry. Tito would probably be working the aisles at Ace Hardware. Denton and I would be doing our fifth tour of duty at the local detox.
But, thankfully, it did happen. And we must never let a day go by that we forget about it. Screw this crap about teaching the American Revolution in our public schools. Sit kids down on day one, show them The Steal, and remind them how lucky they are to live in these magical times.
Despite my letters and e-mails and calls to the Red Sox front office over the past few weeks, no one took me up on my offer to personally fly to Roberts’ home in California and carry him back on my shoulders to the gates of Fenway. But I would have. Just as I hope any of you would. And if there’s a bartender in this fair town who would ask Mr. Roberts to pay for a beer, a waiter who would dare leave him a bill for a steak, or a Theatre District pro who wouldn’t throw him a freebie, then the terrorists have truly won.
USA Today has a spectacular Q&A with The Man on his return engagement at Fenway. And, wouldn’t ya know, the subject of The Steal came up. You can follow the link, but there’s just so much goodness, I put most of it here:
If I came to your house, is there a continuous video loop of that that play?
(Laughs) No. I would be divorced if there was. I’ve got one room which is a sports room or my wife calls it a “dig me” room . There is the helmet I had when I stole the base and there is also my spikes and picture. But that is it. A continuous loop? No.
Chicks did the long ball. Do they also dig the SB?
(Laughs) As long as one chick digs it that is all I care about
If Terry Francona called today and said he needed you to go 90 feet, could you do it?
Absolutely. I can make it for Terry Francona. I could steal a base for Terry Francona right now.
Were you aware of the significance when you stole the base?
No. I did not. I would be lying if I said I did. I knew at that moment if I was out, that was it. It was going to be over. After that play, once I was called safe I just felt, and I looked over at the dugout, that the stadium felt a sense of hope. Then Billy Mueller gets a base hit and it was so like a weight was lifted off of everyone’s shoulders. It was like, ‘it could happen.” The guys in the dugout were fired up and that momentum just continued to perpetuate.
How often do people remind you of the play?
I played four seasons after the ’04 season and there is not a day that went by during the baseball season where a member of Red Sox Nation would not say thank you. That is a fact. Unless I’m in my house and by myself, I’m pretty much hearing it all the time. It is such a great memory for me.
What kind of team was the ’04 Red Sox?
It was bunch of guys who had a bunch of personalities but were very caring and loving. I remember when I first got there and my wife calling and telling me my second child was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. So I didn’t know a whole lot about the disease and ultimately she ended up just carrying the gene for it. But at that point in time, Curt Schilling, Kevin Millar, Johnny Damon and Jason Varitek chartered a jet for me to fly back to Boston to be there for my daughter. I was with the guys for such a short period of time but as crazy as these guys are, when something goes wrong or there is a crisis they just all band together…..I think the dynamic of that 2004 team was so free spirited it kind of balanced out the intensity and the expectations of the fans and media. If it had been a tight group, I think we would have succumbed to those pressures.
Amen to that. And thanks again, Dave.