Red Sox's final countdown for stunning ALCS upset

Baseball

October 21, 2004|By PETER SCHMUCK

IT SEEMS like only a few days ago that I was writing off the Boston Red Sox like so many of Ben Affleck's recent movies, and now I'm sitting in front of the television like it's the moon landing all over again.

The Sox already have proven me wrong, which isn't easy to do unless you're married to me. They did what was supposed to be impossible, pushing the mighty Yankees to last night's climactic Game 7 after losing the first three games in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series. Nobody had ever come back that far in a baseball postseason series, and nobody knows more about not doing something for a long time in the postseason than the Red Sox.

If you're a typically fatalistic Red Sox fan, you came into last night wondering if it was all just a big cosmic setup. We're going to find out together in this minute-by-minute look at their attempt to complete the greatest postseason comeback in baseball history.

Call it news for the chronologically impaired:

8:10 p.m.: Cardinals outfielder Jim Edmonds launches a mammoth walkoff home run in the 12th inning to push the National League Championship Series to the limit, and I couldn't be happier. Not because of all the additional drama it added to this postseason ... I mean, who cares? ... but because the NLCS was threatening to step on the main event.

8:19: Supposed to be first pitch, but if you tuned in at that moment you saw Aaron Boone hitting the dramatic home run that vaulted the Yankees into the World Series last year. Baseball officials moved the start of Game 7 back to 8:30 because the opening act insisted on coming out for three encores.

8:25: Long commercial break to tout the new season of "The O.C." C'mon, if Orange County was really like that, I never would have moved to Baltimore. They never show the traffic or the plastic surgery bills. I'm sticking with Desperate Housewives.

8:30: Game on.

8:41: Derek Jeter fires a perfect relay to Jorge Posada to get Johnny Damon at the plate in the top of the first inning. The Yankees look hungry and I quickly empathize.

8:42: Pizza break. When I get back to the television David Ortiz is high-fiving everyone at home plate and the Red Sox are up 2-0. Did I miss something?

8:53: First Leon sighting. Clever Bud campaign proves you can sell beer without girls in bikinis, but why would you want to?

9:05: Yankees pitcher Kevin Brown is starting to look frustrated, which is a signal to the equipment guy to tape the windows and lock up anything valuable in the clubhouse. The guy has busted up more rooms than the Hell's Angels.

9:10: Brown gone in the second inning. Now, there's $15 million a year well spent.

9:13: Right-hander Javier Vazquez gives up a grand slam to Damon. Make that $25 million a year well spent.

9:14: The Bambino is spotted hitchhiking on the Massachusetts Turnpike.

9:56: Damon hits two-run homer off Vazquez. For those of us who dumped all over the Red Sox after that 19-8 embarrassment in Game 3, it's time for crow on the half shell. Ummmm. Good.

10:21: Fox play-by-play guy Joe Buck points out that Derek Lowe is battling to get through the fifth inning so that he can get the victory. Battling? He's up 8-1 and he's given up one hit. Wish I was going that bad. Lowe may have priced himself out of Baltimore with his dazzling one-hit, six-inning performance.

11:01: Red Sox manager Terry Francona, sensing that things are going too well, pulls Lowe after just 69 pitches and brings in Pedro Martinez, which re-energizes the fans and alters the chemistry of a one-sided game.

11:20: Author and ubiquitous Red Sox fan Stephen King is nowhere to be seen, but the walls in the Yankees clubhouse are starting to bleed.

11:31: In the Red Sox clubhouse, the plastic sheeting is already up and the champagne is on ice, just as it was in the eighth inning of Game 7 a year ago, but this time it's going to stay there.

12:00: Ruben Sierra grounds out to Pokey Reese at exactly midnight - when else? - and the celebration begins. The Curse has not been lifted yet - that will require a victory in the World Series - but the Red Sox get the monkey off their backs and they do it right in the heart of the Evil Empire. Start spreading the news.

Red Sox 10, Yankees 3.

We should have been there.

Contact Peter Schmuck at peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

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