We’ve been here before…do or die for the Red Sox tonight…
The Red Sox season and playoff hopes are on the line tonight. After a very dramatic week, it all comes down to tonight’s American League Wild Card game between your Boston Red Sox and the dreaded New York Yankees.
We have been in the scenario before. Not in a Wild Card matchup but in other elimination games where the winner of the game moved on the losers went home. In 1978 the Sox and Yanks ended the season with identical 99-63 records. An extra game was added to the schedule to see what team would move on into the American League Championship Series. The Red Sox won a coin flip to host the game at Fenway. Older Sox fans will remember a cheap fly ball to left field by Bucky “Fu**ing” Dent off Mike Torrez that landed in the net above the Green Monster in the 7th inning. It was a 3-run jack that was enough after holding back a Sox rally in the 8th for a 5 to 4 win for the pin-stripers. The Yankees went on to win the World Series that year beating the Dodgers in 6 games.
In 2003 it happened again. The Red Sox and Yankees faced off in the American League Championship Series. The series went to a 7th and deciding game. This time the game was played in the old Yankee Stadium, and I was there. Sitting in the Right Field grandstand hoping to watch 60,000 Yankee fans cry in their beers after a Red Sox win. It was a nail-biter all the way. Pedro was on the mound for the Sox against former Sox ace Roger Clemens. It looked great for the Sox up by 3 runs in the 8th inning. I was on cloud nine. That’s when things imploded for the Sox. Pedro was spent by the 8th inning but after a run Manager Grady Little made the biggest mistake of his managerial career…he left Pedro in. The Yankees rallied for two more runs to tie the score at 5-5. The game went into extra innings. By the 12th inning, I had that feeling in the pit of my stomach that this would not end well. My stomach was right. In the 11th Aaron Boone, the current Manager of the Yankees, lead off the inning and took the first pitch from knuckle-baller Tim Wakefield deep over the wall and into the left-field crowd to beat the Sox and move on and represent the American League in the World Series. I was crushed. It was a long drive back to Western Mass. However, it was satisfying, in the end, to watch the Yankees lose the World Series that year to the Marlins. Josh Beckett, who later went on to pitch for the Sox, got the win in game 6 shutting out the Yanks 2 to 0.
In 2004 the Red Sox got payback. The Yankees lead the Sox 3 games to 0 and the hope of the Red Sox finally being able to move on and possibly win their first World Series since 1918 was all but shattered. But you’ve got to win 4 and the cocky Yankees thought they had it in the bag. Surprise…they didn’t. To the amazement of the sports world, the Sox came back and won the next 4-games putting a knife in the back of the Yankees and moving on to the World Series. Thank God this game 7 was a blowout with the Sox winning 10 to 3 at Yankee Stadium thanks in large part to a couple of Johnny Damon home runs. The Red Sox met up with the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series and swept the team with the best record in baseball that year 4 games to 0 to win their first World Series in 86 years in front of their fans at Fenway Park. It was historic.
Tonight’s game can be heard in the Berkshires beginning with the pre-game show at 7:08 on New Country 94.7 WNAW in North Adams…AM 1420 WBEC in Pittsfield and on 94.1 WSBS in Great Barrington. The first pitch tonight is at 8:07.