Is this really happening? Can it be true? Are the Red Sox really poised to win the World Series? Can they get much closer than this… well, yes, they have, but that’s a different story. In fact, they were one pitch away six different times in Game 6 of the 1986 series and we all know what happened there. Still, there are a lot of people who never thought they would be alive to see the Red Sox finally win the World Series. Is this a sign of the Apocalypse? Is this how the end of the world looks? Geez, it feels really weird. I thought I was going to see it once before and was robbed, it almost feels anti-climatic.
Either way, the planets are aligned… literally. There is a full lunar eclipse tonight, which has never occurred during a World Series game. Oh yes, there are more signs than can be seen in the stars and the moon. How about a leadoff home run by Johnny Damon? Does that work for you?
Maybe it’s true what Dan Shaughnessy said on Comcast SportsNet
today: “The Red Sox as we know them no longer exist.”Top of 1
Damon, as mentioned above, laced the fourth pitch of the game from Jason Marquis into the bullpen in right field. As Damon circles the bases, the Sox poured out of the dugout. It looks like they can taste it. After Manny Ramirez walks and most of Marquis’ pitches miss the strike zone badly, Tony La Russa calls down to the bullpen to tell Dan Haren to be ready.
Damon’s homer is the only run, but it was a big one. The dye has been cast. Statues of Terry Francona and Curt Schilling are in the works. Nineteen-eighteen is starting to become just another number.
The Sox are 27 outs away.Bottom of 1
Tony Womack lines Derek Lowe’s third offering into left-center for a single. He moves up on a sacrifice bunt by Larry Walker that probably wasn’t meant to be a sacrifice. So desperate are the Cardinals to conjure any semblance of a rally that their most productive offensive threat in the playoffs attempts to get it started by laying down a bunt.
Who would have guessed that the offense would have been reduced to this?
Womack goes to third on a groundout by Albert Pujols and the inning ends on a swinging bunt by Scott Rolen in which the big third baseman attempted a sprawling dive to avoid Lowe’s tag at first.
The Sox are 24 outs away.Top of 2Trying to find significant moments in history that occurred in St. Louis
leaves one grappling for answers. Of course, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark started their great expedition from St. Louis. After that it was pretty quiet, especially during the Civil War when St. Louis and its home state claimed they were part of the Union but more or less straddled the fence. It kind of sounds like St. Louis and the Midwest of today – milquetoast, non-offensive, polite… you know, boring.
Anyway, the Dred Scott trials happened in St. Louis, and so did the 1904 Olympics, which coincided with the World’s Fair. Scott Joplin came from St. Louis and the ice cream cone and iced tea were introduced at the fair of 1904. Chuck Berry and Yogi Berra come from St. Louis as well.
In 1967, the Gateway Arch was opened, and besides having good Italian restaurants, riverboat gambling, a Super Bowl champion and some pretty good baseball teams, not much has really happened in St. Louis. Excluding Chicago, St. Louis is the hub of “flyover America.” I can’t count the times I had layover at Lambert Airfield.
Anyway, the Sox put two on with one out in the frame, but Marquis wiggled out of it.Bottom of 2
Lowe retired the side in order on just 10 pitches. None of the balls hit into play by Jim Edmonds (1-for-12 in the series), Edgar Renteria and John Mabry were hit especially hard.
The Sox are 21 outs away.Top of 3
Marquis gets himself into trouble again. Ramirez singled to push his post-season hitting streak to 17 games, but was thrown out trying to score on a grounder to first. It seemed as if Marquis was about to dance away from another jam when he walked Bill Mueller to load the bases before Trot Nixon pounded one that came a few feet away from a grand slam.
The two runs made it 3-0.
Due to bat second in the bottom half of the inning, it seemed as if La Russa was trying to get through the inning without wasting an arm in his bullpen. Still, he is going to have to mix-and-match with his pitching the rest of the way regardless. It’s all hands on deck for the Cards.Bottom of 3
Oddly, Marquis stays in the game to hit. Not unusual, he grounded out. Lowe retired the side in order again, this time on just nine pitches.
The Cardinals look whipped. The fans at Busch Stadium look as if they are at a funeral. In some sense, I guess they are.
The Sox are 18 outs away.Top of 4
Maybe Marquis has finally settled down. He sat down the Sox in order on 15 pitches, but it wasn’t without incident. Mental midget Manny Ramirez – and we don’t mean to offend dumb people by comparing them to Ramirez – seemed to get into a verbal joust with catcher Yadier Molina. Apparently, Ramirez didn’t like how tight Marquis was pitching him. Molina must have told him to stop being a girl.Bottom of 4
Between innings, La Russa went out to tell home-plate umpire Chuck Meriwether that he was doing a shitty job. According to the broadcasters, La Russa looked at video of the pitches Lowe was throwing for strikes and pitches Marquis was throwing for strikes and determined that his guy was getting pinched.
Either way, La Russa’s hitters are doing a good job of making Lowe look like Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez. Walker flied out to right, Pujols whiffed on a chintzy curve, and Rolen popped out weakly on a first-pitch.
Very, very poor.
Lowe retired 12 in a row.
The Sox are 15 outs away.Top of 5
Marquis walked Ortiz to start the inning, but rallies to retire the side in order after that. Still, La Russa finally got Haren up.Bottom of 5
After retiring his 13th hitter in a row, Edgar Renteria lines a double to left-center. He advanced on a wild pitch, but was left stranded when John Mabry whiffed on what he thought was a foul tip. An argument ensued, but it got nowhere with Meriwether. I seem to recall players’ saying they thought Meriwether was one of the worst umpires in the big leagues in a Sports Illustrated
Anyway, Lowe continues to deal. Through five innings, he’s thrown just 54 pitches.
The Sox are 12 outs away.Top of 6
Johnny Damon picks up a two-out triple, but the Sox appear to have put it in cruise control. Like us, they are just counting outs now.
Marquis, likely, has pitched his final inning. He rebounded nicely, but the rough start appears have done him in. Baring something dramatic, the Cardinals are going to lose.Bottom of 6
Quickly, just as he’s done all night, Lowe got ahead of every hitter and retired the first two he faced. However, Walker drew a walk to bring up the mighty Pujols. But Pujols appears to have caught the anemia that has plagued the Cards’ bats. After working an 0-2 count to 3-2, Pujols popped weakly to second base.
The Red Sox are nine outs away.Top of 7
Haren finally gets in the game after Marquis threw 121 pitches – 58 for strikes – and blows away Ramirez to start the inning. He continues the solid pitching by getting a ground out and fly out to retire the side in order.
Hey, where was he earlier in the game? Then again, where have the Cards’ bats been?Bottom of 7
It seems like this could be the last chance for the Cardinals. With the way Lowe and the Sox bullpen has been pitching, it doesn’t seem as if the heart of the biggest run-producing lineup in baseball will get a chance to hit again.
So it looks like Rolen will go hitless in the series after popping out to center. Edmonds will go 1-for-14 after doing the same thing. Though Renteria lined another hit to right, Mabry ended the inning by striking out again. This time there was no claim that he tipped the ball.
Lowe is dealing. A writer in Boston wrote that he had earned $8 million by beating the Yankees in Game 7 of the ALCS. My guess is that he got an extra $2 million for beating the Cardinals tonight.
The Red Sox are six outs away. The clouds are moving in… the night is eerily quiet.
Is this the end?Top of 8
Haren stays in and gives up a single to Mueller to start the frame. Fox has started comparing life in America in 1918 compared to now. They have also started to show all the near misses by the Red Sox through the years.
But after Nixon laces his third double of the game to make it second and third with nobody out, it appears as if the party has begun in New England. La Russa calls on Jason Isringhausen to relieve Haren in a double switch which brings Reggie Sanders and his 0-for-9 hitting display into the game.
Interestingly, Isringhausen, the closer, gets into the series for the first time. He marks his debut by issuing a walk to Mark Bellhorn. But with the bases loaded, Isringhausen bounces back to blow away Kevin Millar. With Damon up, Isringhausen gets a grounder that Pujols fields going to his right, which causes him to make an off-balance throw to the plate to get the force.
After a nine-pitch battle with Orlando Cabrera, Isringhausen strikes out the shortstop with a high fastball.
Wow. The Cards made a stand and got out of a major jam.
Can it carry over to the offense?Bottom of 8
Francona goes with Arroyo to pitch after a great job by Lowe. If the Sox hold on to win, Lowe will have pitched in all three of the team’s clinching victories as well as have earned himself some dough on the free-agent market.
Arroyo gets the first hitter out, but walks Sanders before Francona brings in the left-hander Alan Embree to face lefties Womack and Walker. However, despite some serious post-season experience, La Russa uses Hector Luna to hit for Womack.
Luna whiffs and Walker pops up to end the inning.
Just like that and the Sox are three outs away. Boston is now on alert.Top of 9
Pretty easy for Isringhausen in his second inning of work. Wonder if he could have started for the Cardinals?
With two outs, Fox showed the Buckner play. I don’t think people in Boston care about that any more. It’s just a happy footnote now. Nothing more than part of the lore.
Here it comes…Bottom of 9
Keith Foulke enters. Flashbulbs pop and I have pulled my six-month old son out of bed to watch the last three outs.
Amazingly, he opens his eyes from deep sleep and watches Pujols single. For a moment it appears as if the Cardinals have a little life in them. But Rolen flied to right and Edmonds whiffed before Renteria slapped one back at Foulke. As he calmly gloved it and trotted toward Doug Mientkiewicz at first, I felt chills go down my spine. The hair on my arms felt prickly and my heart skipped two beats.
Wow. So this is what it looks like to live in a world where the Red Sox are the champions.
As soon as Mientkiewicz squeezed it and the pile up started on the green infield grass, my thoughts raced a mile a minute. I felt as if I should cry or something like that as I thought about my grandfather and all the time we spent together watching games and hanging out at the track or his restaurants or at sportswriters banquets with who I thought were my heroes. Who would have guessed that the man I was with was really my hero instead of those ballplayers?
I thought about my old pal Johnny Pesky and all the years he spent wearing that uniform, never wanting to do anything else but contribute to his team and make the Red Sox world champs. I thought about how nice he was to me when I was a boy and how his patience with me and his devotion to the game made me love it as much as I could. I thought about how his devotion to the game made me want to do the same thing. How could I have a life that didn’t include baseball? Seriously, I would have to be crazy to want to have a job that didn’t include the game.
I thought about Bob Costas standing in the tiny visitor's clubhouse at Shea Stadium with two outs in the 10th inning of Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. Bob was getting ready to hand the World Series trophy over to club owner Jean Yawkey and the MVP trophy to Bruce Hurst. Soon after the big scoreboard in center field flashed the "Congratulations Red Sox... 1986 World Champs" message, all hell broke lose and Costas had to shuffle Yawkey out of the clubhouse and have the podium torn down and the World Champs t-shirt hidden before the shell-shocked Red Sox made it back from watching the ball squirt through Bill Buckner's legs and into right field.
I wonder how often Costas thinks about that, because the whole image of it freaks me out. Someday I hope to ask him.
I also thought about myself as a little boy and other little kids who are now the way I was and how they will never know a world like the one I lived in. The 1986 World Series will mean nothing to them. It will just be another footnote in Red Sox and baseball history. Another bump in the insignificance of people playing games and making too much of a big deal about them.
I thought about Terry Francona and walking into his office for the first time during the summer of 2000. Even though everyone was taking shots at him and questioning his ability while writing him off as a loser, he never sold out his players nor stopped being a gentleman. It’s funny to see what happened when old Tito was given a good team to manage. Throughout the whole thing, he never let his players feel the heat. He took all of the arrows and never stopped treating people with dignity.
I thought about Bill Buckner and the hell he went through because he made a mistake in front of so many people. I thought about how his life must be different now. Perhaps he will be remembered as the guy who nearly collected 3,000 hits and won a few batting titles. Maybe people will remember that he was once recognized as one of the most feared hitters in the National League. Maybe they’ll find out that he was one of the game’s greatest competitors and not the guy who made a famous error.
And while were at it, who cares about Bucky Dent anymore either.
What about Nomar Garciaparra? I guess it looks like the Red Sox had to get rid of him if they wanted to win the World Series. Maybe his moodiness and arrogance just didn’t fit in with a team hell-bent to win a championship.
Then I thought about Johnny Pesky’s friend Ted Williams and how he never saw the Red Sox win a World Series. Then again, all of those great Red Sox players never saw their team win it. The list of names is endless.
And that racist Sox owner and the whiny, woe-is-us fans… what must they be thinking? What do they all do now?
Most of all, I thought about my boy, who was sitting on my lap watching it all unfold. He’ll never remember what he saw or that I got him up so that he can watch along with his dad something that had not occurred in neither his grandmother nor great-grandmother’s life. At one point he looked up at me with those beautiful blue eyes as if to say, “I know why you’re doing this dad, and no, you’re not crazy. One day when I’m older I’ll brag that my dad sat me on his lap when I was six months old to watch the Red Sox do something that was a big deal at the time. Thanks dad.”
I hope that there will be many more times that my son and I get to sit together and watch a game. That part feels better than any championship.WP:
The Boston Red Sox have won the World Series.
We were all here to see it.