Friday, October 17, 2008


Game 5 - ALCS

Red Sox 8, Rays 7

Red Sox trail 3-2

Four years from yesterday, to the day, the Sox got mauled by the Yankees to go down 3-0 in the ALCS. Five years from J.D. Drew's game-ending single, to the minute, Aaron Boone homered off Tim Wakefield and left me with the most sickening feeling I've ever experienced as a sports fan. After yesterday, it's fair to say that the Sox have rehabilitated October 16.

As SOSHer thrawnqq noted with some degree of awe in the game thread from last night's absurd ALCS Game 5, "...with what we have seen, it is hard to believe that we can still be amazed." And even so, I'm filled once again with a giddy absurdist glee, a most unexpected and intense joy.

Which, to be completely honest, is accompanied by a measure of chagrin. I admit that I stopped believing. The Sox were down 7-0 when I told my wife I was going to stay up to see the end of the season. Just like in 2004, I'd begun composing the season's eulogy in my head. The Sox were not just losing; they were getting embarrassed on their way to losing three straight at home to a team that was clearly better.

The Sox were dead. Dead. The crowd was leaving, the bench appeared to be lifeless. Thousands of people, including my neighbor, went to bed knowing the season was over. Teejay was gleefully texting me.

And then, like Kurt Russell's Wyatt Earp walking across a river in a hail of gunfire, defiantly screaming "NO!", the Sox just refused to die. In the bottom of the 7th, Coco Crisp singled to put runners on first and third with two outs. Alive. Dustin Pedroia faced a 2-strike count before blooping a ball to right to deny the shutout. Alive. David Ortiz summoned his postseason aura one more time, blasting a no-doubt thunderbolt into deep right. Alive. Jonathan Papelbon blew the Rays away in the top of the 8th. Alive. Jason Bay walked to start the bottom of the 8th, and then J.D. Drew put one of the purest swings you'll ever see on a Dan Wheeler offering. 7-6, Rays. Alive. Mark Kotsay doubled with two outs, finally getting a ball past B.J. Upton. Alive. Crisp fought off pitch after pitch and ripped Wheeler's 10th offering to right to plate Kotsay. ALIVE!

Justin Masterson shook off a pair of baserunners in the top of the 9th. Alive. Kevin Youkilis chopped a ball to third with two outs in the bottom of the 9th, and Evan Longoria threw it away after making a splendid play with his glove. Alive, and Fenway buzzed with a low hum of contagious postseason expectation. And then, after Tampa walked Bay intentionally, Drew crushed a J.P. Howell changeup over rightfielder Gabe Gross' head to score Youkilis with the most improbable game-winner. ALIVE!!!

The second-greatest comeback in postseason history now ranks as the third-greatest playoff game in my memory - and only because the stakes are thismuch lower after two championships in four seasons. Tampa's still the odds-on favorite to go through to the World Series, but the Sox are alive. And I've once again learned that this era's Sox don't go gently into that good night.

Man, baseball is a great game.


Nick said...

F-cking Dracula is what they are.

rob said...

that made me laugh. and i can see where non-sox fans are coming from. these magnificent bastards are hard to kill.

TJ said...

F them.

rob said...

teejay's ongoing struggle with this postseason is one of my favorite things.

TJ said...

Yes, it's even more frustrating than your ongoing struggle to reach the cookie jar on the kitchen counter.

Whitney said...

The SportGuy offered this today: "See, I know Dan Wheeler. He spent much of the 2008 season on my AL fantasy team..."

What???? Look, dude, you don't know from Dan Wheeler. If all you know of Danny Wheeler is how his 2008 WHIP sunk you, you do not know the tale. The ups, the downs, the way way downs. Do a search on "wheeler" in the box at top left of this blog and you'll see how Mets fans know Dan Wheeler. And why last night ran precisely according to script.


rob said...

it's even worse than that - 2008 dan wheeler was pretty darn good. 3.12 era, sub 1.00 whip, 140 era+. he definitely does not know from the dan wheeler mets township knows.

Whitney said...

That moron. I went back to see if the years had clouded my memories of Dan Wheeler. Here's what I uncovered from 2004:

"[Zambrano] did leave the game, however, with a 2-0 lead, albeit with a couple of runners aboard. Enter Dan Wheeler. I repeat: Enter Dan Wheeler. While we're wasting time overanalyzing phrasing and diagramming sentences, I'll just say this: "Enter Dan Wheeler" is one I never enjoy reading, unless through some strange set of circumstances I happen to catch sight of a Brooklyn proctologist's to-do list.

So Wheeler comes into a small jam in the second, up by two with two outs and two on. Jason Jennings at the plate. That'd be Jason Jennings the Rockies pitcher. Yes, Jennings is a decent-hitting pitcher, and yes, it's Coors Field, but if Dan Wheeler is ever going to be a not-abominable pitcher, these are the outs he must record. Needless to say, he didn't; Jennings singled in one run on the first pitch, the next batter singled as well, and the lead had evaporated into the very thin air. After Richard Hidalgo doubled in a run in the third to reclaim that lead, it took Wheeler a mere three pitches to hand it right back. Efficient, if god-awful.

He did settle down for a few innings after that, much like the Mets' bats did. I figure they were tired of battling the Human Lead Eraser. The 3-3 tie went into the sixth when Matt "Every Day's a" Holliday "When You're Facing Danny Wheeler" parked one with the bases empty. By the time Pedro Feliciano "relieved" (if you will) Wheeler in the seventh, Wheeler's line didn't look so awful (2 runs over 4 1/3), but it's a misleading line. Fortunately for you, I dig a little deeper and tell the real story.

What Dan Wheeler's Line Doesn't Say (Explicitly or at All)
1. Two inherited runners, two inherited runners scored.
2. While his ERA was a reasonable 4.15, his WHIP was a lofty 1.84.
3. The Rockies hit .381 against him during those 4 1/3 innings.
4. Their freakin' pitcher was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
5. He sucked. Didn't he suck, Jack? He sucked.

I have arguably given poor Mr. Wheeler more than his fair share of abuse at times. At least he didn't walk anybody . . . but who's taking pitches when you're hitting .381 against him?"

I was bitter, but he was indeed that bad. Screw SportGuy, he knows nothing.

Mike said...

Most entertaining tid bit I got was from Mike Hearle, "Was at game with MW last night. Left in the 7th, 7-0 to pay babysitter. My timing is stil exquisite."