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Monday, October 19, 2020

The Perfect Post-Season - World Series

Well, we reach the end of our series.  I hope you’ve enjoyed it.  With no baseball during the first four months of the season and then the Sox playing “baseball” for two months a little look back at some fun seemed like a good exercise. The timing of this ending is fitting as my youth baseball coaching for this year will also be ending this week.  I guess it’s time to move on.  A few random comments;

- I only go back as far as 1986 here.  No 1975.  I was five years old so while I’ve seen the highlights (my mother’s favorite player was always Fisk) I don’t really have firsthand memories though I’d love to hear from those of you who do.
- The Red Sox have never played a seventh game of a World Series in my lifetime.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
- Before the top of the 10th in game six in 1986 my father got up from his living room chair, went to the bathroom, combed his hair and brushed his teeth.  “What are you doing?” asked 16 year old me, “getting ready to celebrate, Henderson’s going deep” he said.  Damn that remains the most impressive thing my father has ever done.

World Series Game One – 2004 – Cardinals 9 at Sox 11 – “And now the team that defied history”…I think that’s what Carl Beane said after concluding the Cardinal introductions, it was something like that anyway.  What came next I don’t know.  The roar at Fenway was deafening as they went through the introductions.  Third base coach Dale Sveum had a good natured wry smile as he was booed, the world shook for Curt Schilling and it was a party.  When Ortiz homered in the first it was on.  From there, the game being played in raw, windy conditions, was hardly a masterpiece with Manny Ramirez making errors on successive plays (and the Sox committing four in all) before Mark Bellhorn rang the Pesky Pole for the 11-9 win. Just going to a World Series game was a dream come true and it lived up to its billing.  My father through some connections and by virtue of being Cuban had gotten to know Luis Tiant and we got a picture with Luis before the game.  Then the pomp and circumstance, the out of town scoreboard showing the complete absence of other games…I am one lucky dude.

World Series Game Two – 1986 – Sox 9 at Mets 3 – You won’t find a much more anticipated pitching matchup than the previous two years’ wunderkinds Roger Clemens and Dwight Gooden.  The world awaited this one but it was a dud as neither star pitched well.  Clemens was gone before the fifth was over to be replaced by eventual winner Steve Crawford for 1.2 innings of shutout relief and then Bob Stanley earned his first world series save with three shutout frames.  All eight position players had a hit for the Sox with only Gedman not managing more than one (Boggs, Barrett, Buckner and Evans two each, Rice, Henderson and Owen three each).  My mother wanted to rearrange the living room before game two but with the game one victory in the books my father and I weren’t letting that happen.

World Series Game Three – 2007 – Sox 10 at Rockies 5 – The Sox and Rockies hooked up in exactly the game one would expect to be played in Coors Field.  The Sox were led by their 1-2 punch of rookies in Jacoby Ellsbury (4 hits) and Dustin Pedroia (3) but the unlikely offensive hero was starter Daisuke Matsuzaka capping a six run third inning with a two run single to left.  The bullpen let the Rockies back into it but Julio Lugo’s spectacular leaping grab saved Timlin’s bacon and doubles by Ellsbury and Pedroia provided some cushion and Papelbon put the Sox on the cusp of another title.

World Series Game Four – 2004 – Sox 3 at Cardinals 0 – The Baseball Tavern, that’s where I was, where were you?  I was working at Boston University at the time, sitting in my boss’ office meeting with him and one other colleague as the day ended.  About 6PM the other guy said “we need to wrap this up, look at him” pointing at me.  That’s when I realized my knee was jiggling like mad.  Anyway, over to the BBT I went to meet a couple of friends.  Somehow I sat at the bar, drank a strawberry stoli (there was a reason but I don’t know what it was).  Then we went INSANE when Damon homered.  Every other inning I went to the men’s room, when I came back, no one had taken my seat.  No one in that place was messing around.  With one out in the ninth half the TVs in the place we went out nearly causing a collective stroke.  We hung in, Edmonds fanned…two outs.  Renteria…inside ball one, why didn’t he let it him? Thank god, come on Keith, gimme this, please, come on Keith…BACK TO FOULKE…stuff happened then.  I don’t really know what.  There’s several minutes of my life lost forever.  What Bill James wrote about that feeling of intoxication was 100% correct.  Had I not been hugging my best friend I’d have fallen on the floor.  We took some photos then went for a walk down Boylston Street.  Stepping outside I thought of my trip to Cuba in 1994.  I had bought a box of cigars, smoked them over the years saving one, one for that night the Sox finally won it all.  I reached into my pocket and pulled it out, old, stale and dry, my god that was the best cigar I ever had before or since.  We high fived and hugged random people.  I got to work the next morning and my HR manager just came over and gave me a hug.  We then met our parents (we grew up together) at a mutual friend’s house, I finally went home and watched NESN Sports Desk or whatever it was called in those days repeatedly until about 4:15 finally conking out.  A few days later a friend and I went to the parade we’d waited our whole lives for.  There have been three since but make no mistake, this was the best.

World Series Game Five - 2018 - Sox 5 at Dodgers 1 - A weekend that seemed like it would never end finally reached its hallowed conclusion with the Sox wrapping up World Series title number four of the 21st century.  Sitting on my porch with my cigar and rum I watched as David Price spun a masterpiece.  Meanwhile Steve Pearce put the capper on an MVP series with two dingers including a first inning shot that echoed Damon’s 14 years earlier.  Price made it stand up with only David Freese (who has more than a bit of World Series pedigree of his own) denting him.  JD Martinez and Mookie Betts provided some insurance as the game ticked away (my sixth inning shaving trip did Mookie some good) and we counted down the outs.  As the 8th inning started I did some mental math “hey, one base runner would make that POS Machado the final out” and when the Dodgers managed the single base runner Joe Kelly and then Chris Sale got us to the cusp.  Machado got in a 1-2 hole then took that swing that had him falling down and started the party for Sox fans everywhere.  I lit a victory cigar and went to my parents to celebrate yet another World Series victory.  Four in fifteen years? Are you kidding me?  Or perhaps I go to Joe Castiglione…CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?

World Series Game Six - 2013 - Cardinals 1 at Sox 6 - This is it.  This is why I paid thousands of dollars for season tickets.  I was there.  I got the privilege of being in Fenway Park at Koji Uehara struck out Matt Carpenter to close down the World Series title.  The game itself was generally uneventful as these things go.  Shane Victorino did his post-season bases loaded thing rattling a three run double off the wall.  I was momentarily confused when the home plate umpire pointed to the plate before calling Jonny Gomes safe, I thought he’d been called out when the ump pointed.  When I realized he was safe, oh was that heavenly.  Then Stephen Drew joined brother JD with a memorable post-season homer and the Sox built the lead.  In the 7th the Cardinals rallied and John Farrell came to get John Lackey but left him in for one more batter.  I couldn’t believe it and literally screamed “NO GRADY!” but after a walk Junichi Tazawa capped a dominant post-season of his own by inducing a grounder to the right side.  When Brandon Workman worked a 1-2-3 8th the noise level grew further and we roared.  The Sox batted in the bottom of the 8th but none of us gave a damn.  My father and I stood and cheered as Koji entered and then we waited.  No one sat, fly ball to left, one out, I marked it dutifully in my scorebook….fly ball to left, two outs…come on, come on, foul ball, another foul ball..SWING AND A MISS!!!  We stayed probably an hour after the game.  I remember the Cardinal family section in the roof boxes (or whatever they’re called now) down the left field line emptying out immediately but every other seat was occupied.  The fireworks caused the smoke to roll in over the ball park which after the events of the previous April was a bit unsettling but in the end, what a wonderful and magical day.

Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: October 19, 2020 at 06:23 PM | 5 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. karlmagnus Posted: October 20, 2020 at 11:59 AM (#5984042)
I just checked. The only time the Sox won Game 7 of a World Series was 1903 -- before even my time!

Thank you for a wonderful almost-perfect season! Very enjoyable!
   2. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: October 20, 2020 at 01:28 PM (#5984056)
Technically they won it in 1912 (I think you were 2 years old right?) but that was actually game 8 because of the tie.

Glad you enjoyed it.
   3. villageidiom Posted: October 22, 2020 at 11:49 AM (#5984557)
I remember the Cardinal family section in the roof boxes (or whatever they’re called now) down the left field line emptying out immediately but every other seat was occupied.
Shown here, as viewed from my seat.
   4. SoSH U at work Posted: October 22, 2020 at 11:56 AM (#5984561)
As much as I envy your fortune in being there, and understand why it would elevate the contest in your eyes, I don't think that's the Game 6 I would have chosen.

Edit: I just noticed the editor's note above.

I only saw part of Game 6 in 1975. I was eight. My parents sent me to bed after the seventh or so, very dejected.

The next day, I woke up to see a handwritten sign from my dad on my bedroom wall. "Carbo homer in the 8th ties it. Fisk wins it in the 12th. Game 7 tonight." I shrieked and jumped out of bed to hear the details.

   5. Jose Is An Absurd Balladeer Posted: October 22, 2020 at 01:14 PM (#5984576)
That's awesome SoSH. Very cool.

Yeah, when I started doing this my goal was to put in as many personal memories as I could. Seeing the Sox win a World Series in person, I meant that's it as a baseball fan isn't it? The only thing that could have been better was if it was a game 7.

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