He kept buttin’ that dam

Boston Globe photo by Barry Chin and used without permission

Boston Globe photo by Barry Chin and used without permission

Ugly night in Boston sports all around.  I don’t even want to think about it.  The rain is coming down now washing away the disappointment of Friday night, ready to serve us up a brand new day.

Without wondering what the hell is going on with Beckett (I just can’t wrap my mind around it right now), I looked up some numbers.

This morning, the Yankees are in second place in the division, 1.5 games out of first place behind Tampa Bay with a record of 20-8.  The Red Sox are in second to last place in the division, 7.5 games out of first just ahead of Baltimore with a 15-15 record.  The Sox and Yanks have met 4 times and the Sox only won one of those games.

On May 8, 2009, the Red Sox were in first place in the division with a record of 19-11.  The Yankees were in third place in the division, 4.5 games out of first with a 14-15 record.  The Sox and Yanks had met 5 times and the Sox won all five games.

I am in no way comparing the individuals on each of these teams.  My point is this:  A record of 15-15  doesn’t indicate that the Red Sox won’t be successful this year.  Anything can and does happen in baseball and as agonizingly painful as it was to watch Beckett meltdown last night and as awful as it was to have the Sox lose so badly after coming off a four game sweep, it isn’t the end of the world, people.  If this team has done anything this year they’ve been consistently inconsistent.  We’re going to have to deal with it.

Since I’d rather remember the past this morning, I was thinking about a rainy Saturday back on July 24, 2004.  Going into the game on Friday the 23rd, the Sox were 8.5 games out of first place behind the Yankees.  That Friday night game was going to be a classic until Curt Schilling had his own meltdown and gave up seven earned runs in just over 5 innings.  The Sox came back to tie the game, only to lose it in the ninth when Keith Foulke gave up a single to Alex Rodriguez that scored Gary Sheffield.  Many Yankees fans refer to this game as the game where Curt Schilling cried – He didn’t.  He buried his face in a towel out of frustration but in 2004 we let the Yankees fans grasp on to whatever they can.  The two pitchers we picked up in the off-season to add the extra oomph the team needed to get past the Yankees had both imploded against them.  The Sox went into Saturday, July 24, 2004, 9.5 games behind the Yankees.

Given that 2004 was before the Red Sox had their fancy new drainage system installed, with all the rain happening Saturday morning, even though it wasn’t expected to rain during the game, no one thought there would be a game that day.  Quite disappointing for many reasons but mostly because 1) it was going to be on Fox and more people would be able to see it and 2) who wants to sit around and NOT have a game after such a soul-crushing loss?  The story we heard later that afternoon was that the game was being called and when they found out about it, the Sox, lead by Jason Varitek, mounted a protest and told everyone who would listen that there WOULD be a game that day.  Curt Schilling told it to Alex Speier this way:

We wanted to play, the front office did not. They were very concerned about the ‘gate’ and we were dead set on playing. I remember a “[Expletive] that, we want to play” response when they came and told us they wanted to bang the game.

The game did not get ‘banged’. (I also remember a story about the Yankees already being on the team bus in their civies when they got the call to get their butts back to the clubhouse. I still don’t know if it’s true, but I like it so I repeat it often.)  Bronson Arroyo makes the history-altering move of hitting ARod (keep in mind, this is before he became “Slappy”)  and all hell breaks lose.  For my birthday in 2004 (which is in December) my sister gave me what I call the “smoosh” photo – Tek asking ARod how his glove smells – and it is, to this day, one of my most prized possessions.  Long story short, the Sox give the Yankees their own soul-crushing loss when they go into the bottom of the 9th with the Yanks up 10-8 and end up losing with Mariano Rivera on the mound.  A double to begin the inning is followed by a fly ball, a single (which scored a run) and then the historic Bill Mueller two-run homer to end the game.

After that game, we thought the Sox were indestructible.  They came back to win the game on Sunday as well and the Sox owned the Yankees for the weekend.  More good things were to come (although it took some time for the Sox to really bounce back) and October 27th made all of the pain of that Friday night game (and the games prior to that which put the Sox in the 8.5 games behind hole they were in) totally worth it.

My point is, people, who knows what this year’s team is capable of?  I’m not ready to give into the idea that the Sox won’t be sniffing the post-season this year just because of a disappointingly slow start (and a frustrating inability for them to string together many wins – see, I do get how lousy this all has been – I’m just not giving up on this team).  Again, sure it sucks.  But I’m willing to accept the suck given the possibility of how great it could eventually be.

Great could begin today.  Of course the guys have to fight their way through CC Sabathia but with Clay Buchholz on the mound I dig our chances.  Adding to my “this feels like July 2004” mojo?  The game today is on Fox.  How sweet would it be for McCarver and Buck to have to eat all their negative words (and you KNOW there will be negative words) when the Sox embarrass the Yankees?

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