I watched the Yankees’ 19-8 trouncing of the Red Sox on Saturday, all 96 hours of it. Well, I guess that game only seemed 96 hours long. Officially it was only four hours and 20 minutes.
A brave sportscaster interviewed Stephen King during the game. King insisted the Red Sox could come back. David Ortiz would win it with a homer if he was writing it, he said.
It didn’t happen. They were down 3 games to 0 and coming off a game where the Yankees broke almost every conceivable postseason record, and the only bright spot was they were headed back to Boston, so at least they could face insurmountable odds at home.What followed was an epic 12-inning game, pitched effectively by a very bitter Derek Lowe,
followed by an epic 14-inning game. Boston wasn’t dead. David Ortiz won both of those games. But Boston’s pitching staff was depleted. Tim Wakefield, the knuckleballer who was supposed to be Boston’s #4 starter, had to be used in relief again and again.
Game six. Do or die. Tim Wakefield was supposed to pitch. But he had to pitch the night before. As much as Boston fans boast of Wakefield’s ability to pitch on no rest, it’s really not a good idea for him to do it. Not at age 38. Since Boston left first baseman/pitcher (and former Kansas City Royal, I must add) Dave McCarty off its postseason roster, their two options were third baseman Bill Mueller (yeah, right) or Curt Schilling.
Fortunately, Boston’s medical staff had anticipated needing Curt Schilling again and had been experimenting, trying to find ways to patch the torn tendon in his right ankle together enough that he could pitch after being blown out by the Yankees in Game 1.
So they literally sewed the torn tendon to the skin to hold it together, and Schilling managed to hold them to one run in seven innings without his best stuff.
Schilling said in a postgame interview that he became a Christian seven years ago and that was him relying on God out there in that game. I don’t know how much God cares about baseball, but I can’t come up with a better explanation.
Boston deviated from the script a little on this game. David Ortiz didn’t deliver the game-winning hit. They also managed to keep the game under four hours.
The Yankees and their fans also showed their true colors. On a close play at first, with Derek Jeter on base, Alex “$252 million” Rodriguez did his best Ed Armbrister impersonation and smacked the ball out of pitcher Bronson Arroyo’s hand.
Jeter started mouthing off in the dugout. The Red Sox protested the call. The umpires huddled. The rest of the umps, who would have been able to see the cheap shot pretty clearly, reversed the call. They put Jeter back on first where he belonged and sent Rodriguez to the dugout where he belonged.
A-Rod’s reaction? “I should have run [Arroyo] over.”
I think A-Rod earned himself a new nickname. Hint: it rhymes with “stick.” The fielder’s job is to tag you out, whether you’re paying to play like I do, or you’re being paid more than a quarter of a billion dollars to play a kid’s game.
And I thought Julian Tavarez’s temper tantrum in the Houston/St. Louis series was out of line.
Yankees fans reacted with similar class and maturity. They started chanting four letter words and throwing everything they could find onto the field. Officials had to dispatch riot police. Really.
Note to self: Don’t worry about who to root against when the Yankees play the Mets anymore. For six days out of the year now, the Davester is the world’s biggest Mets fan.
Game 7. Do or die. The Red Sox called on Derek Lowe again. On short rest. But he was the best-rested pitcher on the Bosox staff. Still, Boston had plenty of reason to be nervous. Lowe’s inability to put crucial games away earned him a one-way ticket to long relief, which was why he was bitter. Only Curt Schilling’s injury followed by Tim Wakefield’s heroic sacrificial lamb performance in Game 3 got him out.
(Count Terry Francona brilliant for using Wakefield instead of Lowe in Game 3.)
Lowe pitched brilliantly. Kevin Brown suffered a meltdown, and subsequent Yankee pitchers weren’t much better, serving up fat pitch after fat pitch and letting Boston’s left-handed hitters take advantage of the short porch in right field. Although, in all honesty, all but Johnny Damon’s initial homer probably would have gone out of every park, not just the House that was Built for Ruth.
Derek Jeter drove in a run in the third. But we saw something no human being has ever before seen on Derek Jeter’s face: desperation.
The Sox answered every run the Yankees scored and maintained a six-run lead, but I still remembered Game 3. I never got comfortable and I doubt many other people did either. But as the Yankees failed to make play after play that they’ve been making in the postseason for the past eight years, it became evident which team showed up to play Game 7 and which one didn’t.
Frankly, I expected exactly the opposite of what happened.
So now Boston’s headed to the World Series for the first time since 1986.
One of the sportscasters said Boston always wants to clinch things at home, but clinching in New York is the second-best thing.
Wrong. This depleted team pieced together four wins out of scraps after being down 3-0, something that’s never, ever been done in baseball or, for that matter, any professional sport other than hockey. There is no better way to win it than to win it on their archrivals’ home turf.
Next year, Steinbrenner will offer the A-Rod money to Scott Boras for Carlos Beltran’s services, and Scott Boras will take it. I’m sure he’ll also add whatever starting pitchers he can find on the market, next year’s payroll might jump to a quarter billion, and the Yankees might manage to buy themselves another championship, assuming the new, expensive players don’t melt in New York.
No matter. This year belongs to Boston.