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Saturday, October 10, 2020

The Perfect Post-Season: ALCS

After sweeping all five games of the perfect Division Series the Sox go out and sweep all seven games in our perfect ALCS as well.

ALCS Game 1 - 2003 - Sox 5 at Yankees 2 - I’ll always believe the Sox were the better team in 2003.  Entering this series I was sky high with confidence and game one did nothing to diminish that. Homers from Ortiz, Ramirez (as part of a four hit day) and Todd Walker ringing one off the foul pole chased Mike Mussina.  Tim Wakefield dominated the Yanks not getting dented until a couple of 7th inning runs when the Sox already had a 5-0 lead.

ALCS Game 2 - 2013 - Tigers 5 at Sox 6 - With the specter of Justin Verlander’s game three start looming the Sox offense continued it’s slump from game one as Max Scherzer dominated.  Clay Buchholz battled but got touched for two homers in the sixth and a 5-0 deficit.  The Sox managed their first hit in the bottom of the frame and a double by Pedroia plated Victorino for the tie.  Then it happened.  The Sox loaded the bases in the 8th and perhaps the single most iconic moment of the amazing career of David Ortiz unfolded.  One pitch from Joaquin Benoit came to home plate and Papi swung and sent the ball sailing toward the bullpen.  From section 15 (grandstand behind the Sox’ dugout I watched the ball fly, I watched Torii Hunter race toward it, the ball, Torii, the ball, Torii, they converged, the seven time Gold Glover leapt…and Fenway erupted. Tie game.  In the bottom of the ninth Jim Leyland summoned Rick Porcello who had had a tough year.  I said to my mother “we can get this guy.”  Jonny Gomes singled and went to second on an error by Iglesias.  A wild pitch sent Gomes to third and Jarrod Saltalamacchia socked one on the ground into left field and the series was even.

ALCS Game 3 - 1999 - Yankees 1 at Sox 13 - In my opinion this is the most highly anticipated game in recent Red Sox history.  Roger vs. Pedro, the Baseball Underground guys passing out Wanted posters with Roger’s face on them and Fenway absolutely electric.  The official attendance is 33,410 but I’ll swear to my dying day that 40,000 people were in the ballpark that day.  Fans were sitting on the steps between sections, the concourses were jammed, it was insane. And we were rewarded.  Jose Offerman had three hits, John Valentin drove in five and when Roger walked off in the third he was hooted and jeered like nothing I’ve heard before or since.  The scorebook from this game is framed and hangs on my bedroom wall.

ALCS Game 4 - 2004 - Yankees 4 at Sox 5 - We all have our memories of this one don’t we? I have two.  First, as the bottom of the 9th started two Yankee fans lit up victory cigars a few rows in front of me.  As we left my brother said “I don’t care what happens, we got to watch those guys shove those cigars right up their asses.”  The other is about the 11th inning two old time Sox fans behind us belted out the entire “Carl Yastrzemski” song and when they finished with a flourish “the man they call Yaz!” They were cheered by section 15.  I don’t remember thinking the win would send us on our way like it did but I noted in my scorebook “1:23” of the time when Ortiz homered.

ALCS Game 5 - 1986 - Sox 7 at Angels 6 - My mother dragged me to church.  Ugh.  I was dying and as we drove home I couldn’t get the game to come in on the radio.  Just as we pulled in the driveway I heard “and the Sox have gone ahead in the 9th on a Dave Henderson home run.”  Holy ####.  I ran inside and watched a terrifying ninth as Steve Crawford survived a man on third and one out (Gene Mauch postgame: “I have nowhere to sleep, I bet my house DeCinces would get the run in”) and finally Hendu did it again with a sac fly to score Don Baylor.

ALCS Game 6 - 1986 - Angels 4 at Sox 10 - The game itself isn’t really much but it’s huge for me, the first post-season game I attended.  My mother’s best friend got tickets late and her, her daughter, my mother and I traipsed to the bleachers two rows ahead of the big Marlboro sign (now the “Dunkin’ Dugout”).  The Angels got an early 2-0 lead but with Wally Joyner out after a bug bite of some kind Rob Wilfong popped up to get Oil Can Boyd out of the first.  The Sox got the two right back and hits by Marty Barrett, Bill Buckner, Don Baylor and finally Dwight Evans made it 7-2 after three. Oil Can did the job and Bob Stanley closed it out. After the game the fans stayed chanting “Oil Can! Oil Can!” Until he emerged in his street clothes for a thunderous ovation.

ALCS Game 7 - 2004 - Sox 10 at Yankees 3 - Well this was a wonderful night wasn’t it?  Of all the things I expected to happen that night the Sox demolishing the Yankees was not on the list.  Dale Sveum’s ill-advised send of Johnny Damon in the first was a brief speed bump but when David Ortiz slammed the next pitch into the bleachers it was on.  Then came the second and the bases loaded no outs situations, the ghosts of 2003 loomed but Damon put them to bed with the grand slam.  From there it was Derek Lowe with a magical night and the Sox just kept adding runs (Mark Bellhorn baby!). When Ruben Sierra rolled one harmlessly to Pokey Reese, well it seemed like it couldn’t get any better (but it did one week later). My best friend and met our parents at another mutual friend’s and celebrated until 2AM.

Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: October 10, 2020 at 09:36 PM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. villageidiom Posted: October 11, 2020 at 04:53 PM (#5982393)
Jose Offerman had three hits, John Valentin drove in five and when Roger walked off in the third he was hooted and jeered like nothing I’ve heard before or since. 

I can't quibble with anything on this list. I mean, Boston winning in the ALCS is pretty much the ideal (in the realm of Sox Therapy). Maaaaybe Game 1 should be 1975 instead of 2003. Tiant pitched a 3-hit complete game against the 3-time defending World Champion A's. Boston got all the runs they needed on 3 errors with 2 out in the first inning - Yaz scoring from first on an error by Sal Bando at 3rd and an overthrow by Claudell Washington from LF, and Fisk (who put that ball in play and advanced to 2nd on the overthrow) scoring on an error by Phil Garner at 2nd. Boston erupted for a 5-run 7th inning to give a punch in the nose to the A's dynasty and set the stage for an eventual 3-game sweep.

But it's nice to give some sunshine to the 2003 team in this round. I have a feeling we'll be hearing from the 1975 Red Sox in the next round.
   2. Darren Posted: October 11, 2020 at 05:16 PM (#5982395)
I’ll always believe the Sox were the better team in 2003.

Both teams were great. I wanted the Sox to be the better team but I fear that I'm biased. The thing I remember about Primer from those days is Larry M. saying something to the effect of, "No matter what team you root for, you have to admit that that was an epic, awesome ALCS." And it really didn't feel that way to me as a Red Sox fan. The Sox had built a really great team and so many things had gone right that wouldn't necessarily go right again. For Yankees fans, who had won so many times, and had won again, it was easy to feel like that. For me, it felt like confirmation that it would just never happen for us.

I remember that at the time both MCOA and I had posted stuff about having it change how much we were emotionally invested in the Red Sox winning and losing. It was a good lesson.
   3. Darren Posted: October 11, 2020 at 05:25 PM (#5982396)
Dale Sveum’s ill-advised send of Johnny Damon in the first was a brief speed bump but when David Ortiz slammed the next pitch into the bleachers it was on.

This was one of those scary moments that made me think, "Okay, here we go." But it all worked out in the end.
   4. Dillon Gee Escape Plan Posted: October 11, 2020 at 07:13 PM (#5982404)
Ugh, there's so many good Game 5's to choose from. 2008 felt pretty hopeless after Upton doubled to make it 7-0, but I stayed up for it anyway and it was worth it. I became a huge Drew fan that year but that night sealed it for me.
   5. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: October 11, 2020 at 09:18 PM (#5982457)
That 2008 game five was insane. I was there with my father and I remember him saying to me “that right fielder is playing too shallow, JD’s hitting one over his head” about one pitch before Drew did just that.

One other memory that didn’t get in. 2004 Game Five, I remember thinking as we walked out onto Landsdowne Street the chant of “Sox in seven” ringing out. We believed then.
   6. Dale Sams Posted: October 11, 2020 at 11:00 PM (#5982498)
Sox Trivia i just found out:

Jed Lowrie signed a 20 million two year contact with the Mets last year.

JED LOWRIE. Good for him. Good for making 20 million when very few people probably even know hes still active.
   7. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: October 12, 2020 at 08:35 AM (#5982532)
In fairness you could have watched the Mets pretty closely the last two years and not known he was active.
   8. villageidiom Posted: October 12, 2020 at 09:47 AM (#5982534)
In fairness you could have watched the Mets pretty closely the last two years and not known he was active.
1. Never get involved in a land war in Asia.

2. Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

3. Never have a plan that depends on Jed Lowrie being healthy.
   9. SoSH U at work Posted: October 12, 2020 at 09:58 AM (#5982535)
I’ll always believe the Sox were the better team in 2003.

I always felt the Yankees were better in 2003, but the Sox should have won.

Likewise, I thought the Red Sox were better in 2004, and the Yankees, obviously, could have won (I don't think Torre did anything mindblowingly stupid the way Grady did, so I can't really say they should have won).

   10. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: October 12, 2020 at 10:01 AM (#5982536)
3. Never have a plan that depends on Jed Lowrie being healthy.

Dustin Pedroia has two more hits than Jed Lowrie over the last two seasons.
   11. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: October 12, 2020 at 10:17 AM (#5982542)
Good list. It is hard to argue with the 1986 Game 5, but the 2004 ALCS Game 5 was historic, as well.

I was at this game at Fenway, and I was at the Snow Bowl "Tuck Rule" Game in early 2002. The two greatest sporting events I've ever attended...but the 2004 ALCS Game 5 was distinctly more intense, more passionate, more emotional. It sounds revisionist to say it now, but it is true: There was a palpable feeling in the ballpark that if we could just win this game, we would totally win the series, and make history. The NLCS game started three hours after this game, and they still both almost ended at the same time. It was long, it got so cold, and you didn't sit down for the last three hours of the game.

A row behind me, over my right shoulder, were two old guys, bundled up in jackets and blankets, clearly longtime friends. They had all the Red Sox gear on, and they didn't get out of their chair, because they had bundled up so tightly. But they were intense - talking to each other, pointing out every detail. They talked about games from decades earlier, how they didn't know how many more chances they would have to see the Red Sox win the whole thing. It was like a movie.

When the game ended in the 14th inning, almost six hours after it started, the place was in a state of pandemonium like I've never experienced before. Nobody left - it was like we won the World Series, because - for real - we all felt like this was the hurdle that, if cleared, would get us there.

I saw a mom and her little daughter jumping up and down to my right, hugging tightly. I was hugging my three friends to my left. And then I looked back at the two old guys over my right shoulder, and they were quietly hugging in their chairs, crying. And that got me crying, too.

When the Patriots improbably won that Snow Bowl,it was pandemonium, but winning that game was our Super Bowl, at that moment. I don't think we all sat around thinking, "OK, the greatest dynasty in the history of the NFL has officially started, and we just saw the greatest player in history lead us to victory." We were just happy to be there. It was amazing, but it was different.

That 2004 Game 5? It was surreal to be with 35,000 other people, and feel like we all - unspoken - knew we had just busted 86 years of The Curse.
   12. Jose Needs an Absurd Ukulele Concert Posted: October 12, 2020 at 10:58 AM (#5982551)
That's great stuff SBPT. Yeah I had a tough call between 1986, 2004 and 2008. I decided to go with '86 because frankly until 2004 that was probably the greatest moment as a Red Sox fan in my lifetime that I could remember (I was only 5 for Fisk's home run).
   13. bfan Posted: October 12, 2020 at 11:09 AM (#5982554)
This is awesome to read and what a great 20 year run in the limelight it has been for the red sox.
   14. villageidiom Posted: October 12, 2020 at 11:26 AM (#5982558)
I was also at the 2004 Game 5. It was one of the best games I've ever attended.

But I would still give it to 1986 Game 5. I mean, Boston was behind partly because Dave Henderson caught Bobby Grich's fly ball, slammed into the CF wall, and the ball popped out of his glove and over the fence for a 2-run HR. That's how they were going to lose it.

They erupted for 4 runs in the top of the 9th, actually taking the lead! Then the Angels fought back to tie it with a manufactured run in the bottom of the inning, before loading the bases with 1 out and DeCinces and Grich coming up. It at least matched, if not surpassed, the tension of the marathon game in 2004.
   15. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: October 12, 2020 at 06:56 PM (#5982682)
I feel very lucky to be a Red Sox fan who was born when I was (1974). A kid from New Hampshire, who was only 1 year old when another New Hampshire kid hit the game winning HR off the foul pole, so I got to hear about it (and the 1978 collapse) all the time, until 1986...when I was old enough to feel the thrills and agony of the 1986 seeing Clemens and Pedro at their peak between 1986 and the heartbreak of the Grady Little the once-in-a-lifetime thrills of the 2004 being the unquestioned Beast of Baseball in and around an out-of-nowhere World Series win in collapsing being the unquestioned Beast of Baseball in collapsing again. Boggs, Clemens, Dewey, Rice, Pedro, Pedroia, Youkilis, Ortiz, Manny, 2013 Koji, Mookie, Sale...wouldn't trade it for anybody else's last 46 years of baseball fandom, in terms of drama and entertainment value. The Yankees have more rings during that time, and have been entertaining, too - but what could match the Hendu game, or the 2004 comeback, or the 2013 Ortiz grand slam that sent Torii Hunter over the wall while a cop didn't even think of helping him nearby? So much entertainment.

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