I could get used to this. But I shouldn't. The first thing I need to acknowledge, the first thing I need to remember, is that this is a first in Red Sox history. No other Red Sox team has ever made the postseason three times in a row. That's an accomplishment right there. I've been trying to put it into full perspective, trying to look back over the landscape of Sox history the better to realize just how big a moment this is, but I really can't. The idea of caring how it was accomplished is almost obscene.
However. It should be noted that the Yankees and Red Sox have an exactly identical record at the current moment. The only reason the Red Sox are not the Division Winners is because the Yankees won the season series, 10 games to 9. Which game are most Sox fans picking as the difference-maker? Why, none other than the 1-0 victory by the Yankees over the Sox on Sept. 11, of course. I will refer you to Steve Brady's post on the subject, since he is far more fired up and therefore articulate about it than me.
Let me tell you how much I love Curt Schilling. I love Curt Schilling so much that every time his face appeared on my TV screen today, I kissed it where his cheek was. I love him so much I'm not ashamed to admit that.
Curt Schilling has had a hell of a year--and not necessarily in the good sense. He's just been pushing and grinding through so much, and all because of what he gave us last year. NESN has been speculating about whether or not what he did last year was a Faustian bargain--whether or not he can do it again in this year's postseason.
All the same, I loved watching him walk off the field today, the fans behind the dugout screaming for him, whipping off his hat and chucking it into the stands.
Between the City of Champions DVD before the game to NESN's openers, today was the day of montages. And as we all know, I am a sucker for montages. Music with video clips? I don't care if it's chess set to System of a Down (a band I hate), I'd probably get a little weepy at it. Carmina Burana with footage of Pedro's greatest victories? Jesus Christ. And then NESN rocking its own version of "100 Years" over Sox footage? I could not have had a better Sunday today.
Today, I found this site, and this funny quote:
But it’s impossible to overstate the importance of this series, with the AL East title, the wild-card, the MVP and the self-esteem of millions of people with funny accents.
How fantastic was Manny's 17th outfield assist today, right at the top of the first inning? At first, I was having flashbacks to Jeter's leadoff hit the day before to begin the whipping of Wakefield (followed by another base hit for A-Rod), especially as he began to stretch it to a double.
I love it when Manny comes up with those unexpected flashes of brilliance. It's like a UFO that suddenly appears in sporadic instances. You never know when or where--but then suddenly, there it is, making itself known from another world.
And I'd love to think of it as symbolic: not so fast, ambitious Yankees.
We saw Mark Bellhorn and Alan Embree in grey uniforms today. I know, nature of the business, comes with the territory, but...shudder.
Jerry Remy's line of the day was the one in which he compared Jarrett Wright, who has been struck this year by two line drives and a broken bat, to a dartboard.
I was disturbed by the "Thank You, Fans" commercial at first. While it was adorable and lovely to see the players discuss us, as it always is, I almost felt like they were saying goodbye for good...just in case. I didn't like that. They also said something about us "supporting them all year." Guess that made me feel sad and kind of guilty, because not all of us have supported them, and none of us have supported them fully all year.
I'm probably reading way too much into it.
Toward the end of the game, they started showing all of what I like to call the Red Sox Babies, the new freshman class composed largely of pitchers (God bless you and happy Rosh Hashanah, Theo Epstein), goofing in the dugout. How blessed we are in the young guns making their first venture into the postseason--in what for many is their first major league season, period.
On the opposite end of the spectrum was David Wells. Not the kind of guy you'd predict would be sedate in any opportunity to slosh liquor onto himself and others, but he was, saying he was hanging back and letting the young guys have their fun. Part of me rolled my eyes at this, but another part of me is glad we seem to have a great balance of young intensity and veteran discipline.
About the Yankees, I want to say this: If they were really going to fire Joe Torre if he hadn't made the postseason this year, shame on them. Fucking shame on them. The man is clearly the Bill Belichik of baseball, and no one's invincible.
This may be just my eternal pessimism talking, but I highly doubt the American League MVP will go to Papi, given A-Rod's higher batting average, home run numbers, fielding, and the fact that the Yankees won the division. I'm not saying I like it; I'm just saying what I think will happen. Meanwhile, though, you'll recall that just as the last three World Series have been won by the Wild Card entries, last year the AL MVP belonged to a team knocked out in the first round. So that award doesn't mean much as far as the outcome of a season for the team--and that's what I think any true MVP really values.
But speaking of Ortiz, it seems like he has become more of a go-to guy not only for his manager but for the press as far as interviews. He's become something of a chieftain, a co-captain to Varitek, a man to ask for his opinion on things. He's been underestimated for so long that this makes me happy.
Still...who knows what's ever really going on, but of late he's seemed more serious than ever before. The big smile and the happy-go-lucky personality seem to have given way to a new gravitas not entirely unpleasant, but a bit unsettling from a man you've grown used to being relentlessly cheerful.
Also per Steve Brady: For the second year in a row, Manny has now hit 40+ home runs and 130+ RBI.
For the second year in a row, Papi has now hit 40+ home runs and 130+ RBI.
1927, 1930, 1931
Those are the three years Ruth and Gehrig did it, the only other duo to do so in the AL.
Manny is also the only player other than Yaz to hit 40 in three Red Sox seasons.
My fiancee's unmitigated delight at Manny's pimp strolls off the plate after jacking one out (as occurred today) is one of the greatest pleasures in my life.
I miss Keith Foulke. Not the underperforming Keith Foulke. The Keith Foulke of last year. The Keith Foulke we could lean on. I wonder if he watched, and what he felt.
The Curt Schilling / Manny Ramirez interaction showcased in the NESN broadcast today was absolutely precious to me. After hitting his home run, Manny came strolling through the dugout and sat next to Curt briefly. The two exchanged words--impossible to tell what was said. But Manny got up and opened the cooler to get a drink and then walked off shortly afterward, while Curt sat, furrowing his brow in consternation, shaking his head, seeming to go over it again in his mind, and then shaking his head again.
I don't care what the conversation was about. I loved every nanosecond of that exchange. It was like two different species sniffing each other. Two different species, both of whom are monsters for our team. If anything, you can't really expect a dominant pitcher and a dominant hitter to really get along, can you?
What a great moment it was when the man in the scoreboard took the "9" out. As Sam pointed out, "Many ballparks wouldn't even be aware of that."
Remember when we won the Wild Card in 2003 and it was like we'd won the World Series? Just getting over that postseason hump was such a tremendous relief and electric jolt of excitement all at once. Remember Kevin Millar rocking the mic, saying "Boston! We love you!" Remember the players squirting champagne at the fans?
Now we win it, for the third year in a row, have an identical record to the Yankees--not something we've had either of our two times in the postseason before, and far from where I'd have thought we'd be if you'd explained to me on Opening Day that Curt Schilling would be out most of the year and shaky when he was in, and that Keith Foulke would be virtually a non-factor all year--and are in the postseason after a tough, tough year, and it's all, "muhhhhh...meehhhh...bleehhh..." Myself included, not trying to shit on anyone else, here.
Consider also what it must be like to be a Cleveland Indians fan tonight.
Hanley Ramirez had his first Fenway at-bat today. That was lovely to see. I can't wait till that kid comes up...I just worry about what will happen with Edgar, etc. Little early for that speculation, though.
Notes from the postgame celebration:
- I know a lot of people compare Papelbon to the young Clemens. I saw some footage today of the young Clemens on my City of Champions DVD...and while pitching-wise they may be similar, no way is Jonathan Papelbon in the same remote sphere of hotness as the young Roger. That's just a fact. However, the twang does get me. And also, I noticed in the postgame celebrations that he has a tattoo on his left tricep that says "PAPPY." I'm not kidding.
- Manny was wearing a shirt that said "GUERRERRO" on it.
- Papi's jersey was sleeveless. It looked fantastic.
- Mike Timlin has pitched in 81 games this year--half the season. He was on the mound today when we clinched, which was righteous indeed. He was also running around the clubhouse during the celebration in sleeveless camo, which...whoof.
- A fantastic moment: Bill Mueller in the dugout in the moments after the "9" was removed and before the celebrations could begin in earnest. He looked directly into the camera, and first a smirk, and then that lopsided half-smile took over his face. He waggled his eyebrows. I about died.
- No matter how many times I see it, watching the Red Sox pour champagne on each other in the clubhouse will never, ever get old. Not when there are moments like Curt Schilling pouring it slowly, lovingly, even, over Gabe Kapler's head, Gabe on crutches, smiling and gracious. It made me feel approximately 14 different emotions at once. That Gabe is back with the team is of inestimable importance. Like Ellis Burks last year, his role as the clubhouse shrink is crucial.
- How fantastic was it that they changed the standings on the scoreboard to show "NEW YORK" second and "BOSTON" first in the tie?
- During his postgame interview, Curt walked by, sprayed Tito with champagne, and Tito just grabbed him and hugged him, kind of stuck his face in his shoulder like a little kid. ADORABLE.
- I may never see anything funnier than Youkilis with his cap tilted, spraying Graffanino with beer and yelling "w00t!" What a whiteboy.
- This has got to be weird and a half for Edgar, eh?
- Graffanino has been in the postseason before, but he's this year's Orlando Cabrera: "I used to play for the Royals! I USED TO PLAY FOR THE FUCKING ROYALS!"
- What was better? The terrified look on Matt Clement's face in his post-clinch interview? Or the completely incongruous R & B blasting behind him? Quoth Bouge: "I don't know about you, but nothing says full-out, straight-up R&B like pasty white, goateed baseball pitcher. Matty, make sure you drink your Ovaltine."
Kristen asked, "Does anyone else feel like this was the fastest regular season in the history of baseball? I seriously feel like we won the WS three weeks ago."
I have to say I feel the exact opposite. This season has felt about two years long already. Like Annette said yesterday, "We've been waiting all season. It's been a season of waiting."
Waiting for Curt to get better, waiting for Foulke to get better, waiting for Timlin to get adjusted as a closer, waiting to see whether any trades would be made, waiting for the big win streak that never came, waiting to see how the Yankees did, waiting for this weekend to see how the AL East would turn out...to me, this season has felt LONG.
I don't know what to expect. I don't know what to want, even--I guess what I want is to stay with these guys as long as possible. I want to see them celebrate again. Even if it's just one more time.
I thought I'd be coming up with a wallbanger of a "Patsfan/Soxfan dialogues" in this space, but to be honest, when I checked in with those two today, Patsfan was sobbing quietly in a corner and Soxfan was passed out next to a half-empty bottle of Chivas Regal. So if you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch my Faith Rewarded DVD. Yes, again.