October 21, 2004

Red Sox Nation

Posted by shonk at 01:31 AM in Sports | TrackBack

Wow. Incredible ALCS. Simply amazing. I’m not even really a Red Sox fan, but, during the last four days, I’ve found myself obsessed with this series, even to the point of acting out those little superstitions that sports fans inevitably obsess about when a team they care about is involved in an elimination game. The way they came back from being down 0-3 is, to me, simply mind-boggling, since their saving grace in the series was their bullpen which, not to put too fine a point on it, is pretty shaky except for Foulke (who absolutely played his heart out in this series; I’m still slightly amazed his arm didn’t just fall off on Tuesday night).

Francona is far from the sharpest manager in the game, but he did what he needed to in the last four games of the series, never looking ahead and preferring to overwork his best arms rather than saving them for a tomorrow that might never have come. Obviously, only time will tell if this strategy will ultimately cost them the World Series, but I have to believe that had he, for example, not inserted Foulke in the seventh inning of game 4, the World Series would have been a moot point. There are situations when being over-aggressive is the only way to win, and when you’re down 0-3 to the Yankees, that’s one of those situations. And Francona, dumb as he may be, recognized that fact (that having been said, I’m still a bit confused about his decision to use Pedro in the seventh inning tonight [though, admittedly, not Tim McCarver-level confused]).

Of course, it helped that the team he’s managing has absolutely the perfect personality for carrying off such an improbable comeback (which is, incidentally, why this year’s Sox are such an easy team to identify with). And the best exemplars of that personality might be Ortiz and Schilling, one of which came through again and again in the clutch while never seeming to take himself too seriously and the other of which pitched a gem in game 6 on sheer force of will. Bill Simmons compared Schilling’s game 6 to the Willis Reed game and the MJ flu game which might sound like hyperbole but makes sense given the juxtaposition between his performance and the recurring images of his bleeding ankle that Fox kept showing.

Okay, enough sports clichés and replay-announcer gushing. Back to your regularly scheduled programming.


Please make this the last time you ever identify emotionally with Red Sox fans.

Posted by: Curt at October 22, 2004 06:55 AM