Friday, October 17, 2008

Faith Rewarded. Again.

Game Five of the 2008 American League Championship Series. With the Red Sox having lost 3 in a row and trailing 3 games to 1 to a white-hot Rays team, there could be no margin for error.

I watched the first inning at my 2nd job; the game hardly started the way I figured with Dice-K giving up a 2-run HR before an out had even been recorded. On the way home I put on WTIC out of Connecticut, opting to listen to the game through the static with the regular Red Sox announcing crew of Joe Castiglione and Dale Arnold instead of putting up with the painful experience of listening to the ESPN radio feed with Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. More TB home runs; more Red Sox runners left on base. F-bombs were flying through the car at lightning speed.

As I pulled into my neighborhood at 9:30 PM, my oldest daughter called me from her college dorm on my cell phone. "Dad, this is disgusting. What's happening here?" We talked of the fun we'd had on a couple of Fenway road trips we'd taken from NJ this year, lamented some key injuries to important players, and just figured we'd start counting the days until pitchers and catchers. When I walked in the door, my wife had turned the game off in the living room. The look of disgust on her face echoed my own sentiments. Our 7-year old son came downstairs when he heard me come in and asked me what the score was. "Well, maybe we'll get them in the next game," he offered, until I reminded him that this would likely be Tampa Bay's 4th win. I sent him back off to bed with a Manny-like "there's always next year" and headed down to the family room to check in on the game thread on the SoSH website and see what had developed. That was right about the time that Red Sox relief pitcher Manny Delcarmen left and closer Jonathan Papelbon came in. Like some others, I turned the game off when it got to 7-0. I figured that I wake up for job #1 at 4 AM; it's probably best to not torture myself any longer, so I went upstairs, kissed my wife goodnight, and headed to bed.

"Jim...I don't want to wake you...but I don't think you should miss this."

My wife was gently shaking my shoulder and had this edge of excitement to her voice. Big Papi had already hit his 3-run shot and Papelbon had shut the door in the 8th. J.D. Drew was up. I struggled to focus on the TV in the bedroom just as Drew's shot left his bat. I bolted upright and threw my arms in the air. Somehow I managed to blurt out, "DON'T LET US WIN ONE!" - echoes of Kevin Millar from the 2004 ALCS. Our 9-year old daughter heard the commotion and poked her head out her door. "Get in here!" I exclaimed. My wife mentioned something about it being late and a school night and I just gave her that look that said, "You're kidding, right?"

When Mark Kotsay doubled off the glove of Tampa center fielder B.J. Upton with two out in the bottom of the 8th inning, the phone rang. It was our oldest daughter calling from school. She and her roommate were making so much noise as Fenway was becoming unglued (to steal a phrase from Francona) that one of her dorm RA's came in to see what the problem was. That RA and another ended up watching the game with the two of them. So with my 9-year old talking on the phone with her big sister while wrapped in my arms in bed, and my wife clutching my shoulder, the four of us hung on for dear life during Coco's AB.

By the time the game ended with J.D.'s line drive, we were all screaming - my daughter in her dorm and the three of us in my bedroom...while our 7-year old somehow slept through the entire thing.

We flipped back and forth between ESPN and the TBS postgame show, not entirely believing what we had seen. I'm still not entirely sure that what I saw really happened.

Faith Rewarded.



Anonymous said...

Glad you were able to enjoy the game on Friday but back to reality now - on the day the better team won. Will be interesting to see what the Sox look like next year. Do they go young or stick with the veterans ?

Jim Monaghan said...

Actually, the team is already pretty young. Ellsbury, Lowrie, and Masterson were all rookies this season. Pedroia just finished his 2nd season. Youk, Crisp, Papelbon, Delcarmen, Lester, and Beckett are all under 30; Jason Bay just turned 30.

There's also Clay Buchholz and Michael Bowden, who are two very young pitchers waiting in the wings, so the future is pretty secure.

The biggest question mark (I think) in the off season is what to do with Jason Varitek who was completely useless with a bat in his hands from the left side for virtually the entire season.