Die-hard Boston Red Sox fans are always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Okay the Boston Red Sox have won two in a row from Tampa Bay. Sure they are in the ALDS and that’s great, but all Red Sox fans know, this could change at any time. It’s happened before and it can happen again.
Now I don’t want to be a naysayer, but I was alive in 1967, 1975 and 1986. I remember the epic fails, seasons when they were leading the division all season only to tank it in the end. I remember the bad calls, the strange bounces and caroms, Bill Buckner and Bucky Dent’s home run. how our hopes were raised only to be dashed against the Green Monster. They even came pretty close in ’03, but alas it didn’t happen.
Okay, things did change in 2004, you could feel it in the air, really all season, but especially right after the All-Star break when we all figured it was time for the dive. But it never happened. One reason was for the first time since inter-league play began they had a winning record against the National League. Before this they would go on a losing streak against teams like the Braves and Phillies and never pull out of it. That didn’t happen in ’04 or since. The shoe never dropped.
There was a certain vibe in the air in 2004, a confidence which was carried throughout the season. Remember all the comeback wins? There were many years when Boston Red Sox fans would turn off the TV, the radio or leave Fenway Park in the fifth inning because they knew what would happen. The Sox would implode. They didn’t do that in ’04, in fact since that year there have been few games where they were truly out of it. But ’04 was magical, they always fought back, Ortiz would hit that homer, Papelbon would strike out the side, fried chicken wasn’t allowed in the clubhouse during the games (okay I don’t know if that’s true but I had to throw it in there), each game was truly never over until it was over.
And the playoffs will never be matched. First they came back from two games down to Oakland to take the next three games and win the series. Not to throw a monkey wrench into the works here but isn’t Tampa Bay in the same situation this year?
Then there was the division championship series. Down 3 – 0 they came back to beat their arch-enemies, the New York Yankees. Who would have believed it? Sure there were some late hours spent watching the TV, work was missed, kids stayed home from school, but how could you turn away; you could feel something in the air. Then in game six something unprecedented in Red Sox history happened, The Red Sox benefited from a controversial call. Alex Rodriguez was running to first and he swatted at pitcher Bronson Arroyo’s hand knocking the ball out scoring Derek Jeter. We knew it was over. Remember ’75 and the interference call? But wait, after being called safe the umpires convened and overturned the call saying it was interference, Jeter was sent back to third. No true Red Sox fan could believe they did it but it but that was the turning point and the rest is history.
And yes there was another ho hum World Championship in 2007 but since then, more heartache, more disappointment and shattered hopes.
Could this year be different? Are there traces of the ghosts of that ’04 team in the clubhouse? I can see the fire, the never say die attitude, the “We are never out of the game” approach. Like the ’04 team there is that camaraderie on the bench, the field and the clubhouse. We aren’t hearing grumblings about contracts, rumors of guys complaining about other players or fried chicken and beer in the clubhouse.
Yes, this year could be the year of the next Boston Red Sox World Championship, but then there is always the shadow of a dropping shoe.
Commentary by Paul Roy