October 22, 2004

A Classic Series Awaits

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At approximately 12:05 yesterday morning, history was made in perhaps the most remarkable way imaginable. Amid the shouts of euphoria from transplanted Bostonians in rainy Collegetown, one singular theme could be felt — maybe, just maybe, that curse is standing on its last legs.

Avoiding superlatives in a situation such as this is difficult, but what happened in Game 7 at Yankee Stadium Wednesday night will surely take its place among the annals of the greatest moments in American sports history.

The Boston Red Sox — perhaps the most star-crossed of any professional franchise — lost the first three games of the American League Championship Series to their hated rival, the New York Yankees. They were left for dead; destined to fall short of baseball’s promised land once again. But after that embarrassing 19-8 Game 3 loss, something awoke in Red Sox Nation.

And it kept growing and growing.

On Sunday night, down to their final three outs and facing the most dominant closer in the history of postseason baseball in Mariano Rivera, the Sox fought back. David Ortiz’s 12th-inning homer allowed Boston to live for another day.

Monday, playing Game 5 on what should have been an off-day, it was another extra-inning game, and it was more heroics from Ortiz. His 14th-inning RBI single gave the Red Sox a 5-4 win, and a ticket back to New York for Game 6.

It tied the best any team had ever done after being down 3-0 in a seven-game series.

Tuesday night in the Bronx, the Red Sox were again desperate. Curt Schilling, after sustaining a horrible ankle injury earlier in the playoffs, Schilling gutted out seven strong innings to lead his Sox to a 4-2 win.

Wednesday seemed inevitable. After the Yankees took on their first deer-in-the-headlights look in nearly a decade, the Red Sox pounced in Game 7. The rest is history.

Red Sox 10, Yankees 3.

And tomorrow, Boston will host its first World Series game in 18 years. Regardless of the outcome of last night’s National League Championship Series game 7, this postseason has already been magical, and the World Series will simply be icing on the cake. However, all the pressure will be on the Red Sox. As much fun as the ALCS was to watch, the World Series can be that much more fun. Or it could be a massive letdown.

In order for the Red Sox to truly prove that the Curse has been broken, they need to complete their task and win a championship for the first time since 1918. This will undoubtedly be a highly difficult task.

Given that Boston enters the Series with a spent bullpen, a hobbled ace in Schilling, and have probably just about used up their allotment of miracles, it could take a lot.

Especially considering their opponent. Both the Houston Astros and St. Louis Cardinals have had remarkable seasons. The Cardinals, baseball’s winningest team during the regular season, have the deepest and most dangerous lineup in the league. Houston, which won the National League wild card with 92 wins, is peaking at exactly the right time. The Astros struggled through much of the regular season, but turned it on in September. Behind their deep pitching staff and clutch hitting, they coasted through the Atlanta Braves in the Division Series and have now taken the mighty Cardinals to the brink of elimination.

Either way, the National League champion will have an easier road. Because all expectations are on the Red Sox, all the Astros or Cardinals will have to do is play their game — which is something both have proved more than capable of doing at a very high level.

This is not to say that the winner of last night’s game will hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy within the next 10 days, because if there’s one thing we’ve learned this postseason, it’s that there is no such thing as a sure thing.

Boston has already made history, it has already exorcised many of the demons that it has been haunted by for so much of the last 86 years. It can now take that next step, and make an historic season a legendary one.

Owen Bochner is the Sun Sports Editor. He can be contacted at [email protected]. In The O-Zone will appear every other Friday this semester.

Archived article by Owen Bochner