Even though it was over by the second inning. Even though we were fated to be handpicked by the Gods and dipped in awesome that fateful season, it was inning after inning of hold your breath, drink your beer, swat at the walls and don’t mention the past.
Because to that point, all I’d known was that when everything was on the line, we couldn’t beat the Yankees.
I was too young to recall 1978. But I remembered the train wreck that was the 1999 ALCS. And, of course, the sight of Timmy Wakefield walking slump-shouldered off the mound as all of New York erupted around him just one year earlier.
But then, here we were. Stuffing them in the locker. Swiping their lunch money. Silencing their bats and their fans and their announcers. At long last, we were the ones smiling and jumping and smashing beer cans against our heads as the final outs were made.
It was odd and uncharted territory. Watching the game with Denton, I didn’t quite know whether to laugh or cry, shit or wind my watch, drive the hookers home or ask them to gather six of their friends.
Those first couple innings are like a favorite movie I can watch any time, any place, anywhere. We came out of the gate like gangbusters with a couple hits and a Papi home run in the first. Then D-Lowe shut ’em down, 1-2-3. Then we were at it again, with a Millar single and walks to Mueller and OC, followed by a Johnny Damon grand slam. Somewhere in the blur we had a home run from Bellhorn, another from Damon, and a bizarre Pedro Martinez cameo. The Sox unleashed 13 hits. The Yankees could only muster 5.
But I never relaxed, never sat down, never raised my hands in victory until that final out. I mean, how could it happen? A few days earlier, we were toast, teetering on the edge, about to go down like Chelsea whores against our bitter rivals without any semblance of a fight.
Then there was The Steal. And suddenly they were James Caan, tied to the bed and begging us to end the torment, and we were Kathy Bates (only, of course, slightly hotter), looming ominously with sledgehammer in hand, ready to do God’s work. When it was finally over, when Ruben Sierra tapped that Alan Embree offering ever-so-gently to Pokey Reese, I just collapsed on the couch, beer and adrenaline coursing through my veins. The World Series, though unstoppably awesome in its own right, was almost anti-climactic in the wake of this. Because it was the mirror-image version of the 2003 season-ender; the perfect revenge fantasy as if scripted to the letter.
Here’s what I wrote at the time. Also worth checking are the comments from that fateful night, with Sox fans chiming in from all over the world.
It’s been five years and somehow, it still feels like yesterday.
And it was simply f@#king brilliant.