Goodbye, Coco. It's been good having you--I mean that. You've been a cheerful presence and a defensive beast in center field. But you have to know as well as the rest of us that your time here has passed.
Tonight Jacoby Ellsbury became the stuff of instant legend. 4 for 5 and 2 RBI and solid defense as a rookie in a World Series game, and as Kristen put it, "free tacos to boot."
My father, who was instantly smitten with Ellsbury as of his September callup, has the fever bad. He was deeply hurt, for example, when I called him in the sixth inning, and it was Daisuke's two-RBI single I mentioned first rather than Jacoby's followup double. I don't think I've ever seen my dad so totally taken with a player, and so soon.
For Boston, it's been love at first sight with the kid. With all the kids, really. I still can't help but marvel at how rich we are with young, homegrown talent that plays so fearlessly. Tonight on the young legs of rookies, the Red Sox were an agile defensive team, and ran the bases like bats out of hell.
And Daisuke! The hit! I still remember the days of Papi roaring with laughter as Pedro daintily grounded out to second; I'm used to pitchers hitting meaning automatic hilarity, not RBI. But that was a good hit off anybody's bat, let alone the rookie starting pitcher.
When Francona pulled him, I was immediately smelling the first faint strains of Tito flambe being cooked up in Boston's newsrooms. Daisuke had plenty of pitches weighing on him, but he had looked solid throughout his start, and I thought he was squeezed on several calls as he walked two to begin the sixth. Fox, in its infinite wisdom, did not show Daisuke's immediate reaction to being pulled, but Joe Buck described him as clearly upset, stalking off with his back turned behind the mound as Francona approached. Javier Lopez brought the hounds closer to the door by letting up a single to Brad Hawpe, of all people.
It was said Jonathan Papelbon did not react to the altitude well, and it appeared Okajima was similarly affected, giving up a gut-tightening three-run homer to Matt Holliday, who crushed a flat offering from Oki to straightaway center to jolt another towel-waving ballpark alive.
But then it was time for Ellsbury and Pedroia to announce that their era has officially begun in Boston, pounding home four more runs in the next inning to bring frowns back to the faces out in Denver.
After the game, a sideline reporter informed Dustin Pedroia that no rookies had ever performed in a World Series before the way he and Ellsbury did tonight--7 for 10 with 3 runs scored. For a few seconds, Pedroia didn't say a word. He just beamed.
Kevin Youkilis looked like he was suited up to appear on The Deadliest Catch while in the dugout, wearing some kind of oven-mitt / elbow-length-mitten ensemble and a quilted Sox parka, but he showed no signs of the cold when he was activated, pouring sweat as usual. At one point he was shown in the dugout with steam rising from his dome. I just flat-out love this team.
And now, in an ending you couldn't sell as fiction, Jon Lester comes back from cancer to stand on the mound with the chance to win the World Series tomorrow night.
What a game. What a team. What a year.
P.S. This is not a hockey blog. My mother has already declared that she will not tolerate another sports obsession in the family, and so while the Celtics' acquisition of Kevin Garnett has piqued my interest somewhat, and I am dimly aware the Bruins have been doing well so far, I'm not going to start trying to follow all four franchises.
That said, more than any other Bruins player, Patrice Bergeron has made me much, much more curious about hockey. If I can even claim to have a hockey boyfriend, it's him. And so a shadow fell over my Sox euphoria when I saw the replay on SportsDesk of the vicious hit he took from the Philadelphia Flyers' Randy Jones. It was even more horrifying to hear that Bergeron was unconscious and unresponsive on the ice, and had to be taken off on a stretcher. Since then it has been reported that he has come around and is stabilized with "only" a broken nose and a mild concussion. I may not become a full-fledged hockey fan, but never have I felt such relief over a broken nose.