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Monday, February 27, 2012

Looking Back at 2004 Magical Run

Its been over 7 years since that magical postseason of 2004. The 2004 Postseason set off a craze in Red Sox Nation. And rightly so considering the 86 years since the last Red Sox Championship. Lets mesmerize for a minute, all the while hoping that 2012 can bring the magic back to Red Sox Nation.

The Red Sox went into the 2004 Postseason as the AL Wild Card team, the 4th Seed in the American League. It didnt stop them from endearing to fans immediately with a sweep of the Angels in the Division Series. The Angels looked sadly overmatched while being outscored 25-12. The Sox scored 8 runs twice and 9 once. Two overwhelming performances from Curt Schilling and Pedro Martinez sealed the Angels fate. This was just the beginning of a magical run that would captivate fans from all over the country. Lets take a look at the ALCS, where the magic really happened.

After the 2003 ALCS loss in Game 7 for The Red Sox ( Yes the Boone homer), The country and especiall the Red Sox wanted a rematch. They had a point to prove. In the end they proved it.

After the first three games, the Red Sox looked to be down and out. They looked down and out, physically and emotionally. A rout in game 3 had writers throughout the game writing the Red Sox off. Coming back from a 3-0 deficit had never been accomplished in baseball. It was a seemingly impossible task. Most fans including myself were already looking to "next year". None of us envisioning what would come next.

Game 4 seemed like the nail inthe coffin. All the way until the ninth inning, when the Yankees led 4-3 with Mariano Rivera coming on for a second inning to try to put the game away and put the Red Sox away. Then came the single from Kevin Millar, whom Dave Roberts pinch ran for. Roberts stole second on the first pitch after three throws over to first by Rivera. This was the shift in momentum that the Sox needed. Bill Mueller singled, scoring Roberts and tying the game. The game ended with a David Ortiz walk off 2 Run Homer in the 11th. This game would be the start of something special.

Game 5 was decided by David Ortiz as well. Again in extra innings. This time it was the bottom of the fourteenth. Ortiz came up with Manny Ramirez on first and Johnny Damon on second. Ortiz singled into center, scoring Damon and completing another extra inning win. The series was now 3-2 and the momentum had completely shifted at this point.

Game 6 was the famous "bloody sock" game. Curt Schilling was pitching with sutures in his ankle from a procedure he had done that would allow him to pitch. By the end of the game, Schillings sock was soaked in blood, prompting people to call it the "bloody sock" game. Even with the injury, Schilling was impressive. Pitching seven solid innings before giving the ball to Bronson Arroyo. At that point the Red Sox led the game 4-1. Arroyo allowed a run to make it 4-2. There was the contorversial slap of the glove by Alex Rodriguez that caused a run to be overturned and riot police to be on the field, but ultimately it stayed 4-2 allowing Keith Foulke to come on for the save in the Ninth. Foulke got into some trouble before striking out Tony Clark to end the game. Series now tied at three games a piece. Another Game 7. It couldnt get any better, the memory of 2003 was still fresh, but it only served as a motivator for revenge. The chance to erase 86 years of heartbreak. Could the Red Sox embrace it and use it to their advsntage?

In Game 7 the Red Sox scored early and often. Ortiz hit a 2 run HR in the first inning, Johnny Damon hit a Grand Slam in the second. The Red Sox looked poised for a trip to the World Series, riding the momentum of an amazing comeback. Derek Lowe pitched 6 innings only allowing a run, followed by Pedro who allowed two, but the score was still 10-3 and Pedro recovered and got out of trouble. The game was closed out by Alan Embree and Mike Timlin. The Red Sox had completed the comeback of the century. They would head to the World Series riding on the back of their sweet defeat of the rival Yankees.

The Red Sox would play the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2004 World Series. The Cardinals had the best record in the National League in 2004, making winning a tough feat for the Red Sox. Once again they embraced being the underdog.

The World Series in 2004 was highlighted by Big Papis four RBI in the first game, Curt Schillings Six inning performance in Game 2 even with his ankle still stitched. He wasnt even sure on the morning of Game 2 if he would be able to pitch. Game 3 featured a dominant pitching performance by Pedro Martinez, a spectacular catch and assist from Manny Ramirez in Left Field, as well as a Home Run. Game 4, the final game of the World Series was the Red Sox the whole way. Derek Lowe started and didnt allow a run. Johnny Damon homered in the first at bat of the game, providing the winning run. The Sox scored 3 in all but only needed one, as the Cardinals never put up a run in the game. The Red Sox had finally won the World Series.

2004 replaced all of the heartbreak that Red Sox fans had endured over the previous 86 years. The Curse was finally forgotten, and we could finally bask in the glory that comes with a World Series win. It was a great time to be a Red Sox fan. Never have I experienced such a lift from a sports team, before or since the 2004 Season.

The point of this post is to reflect on the fact that being underdogs isnt always bad. Being the underdogs in 2012 could turn out to be a great motivation for a team that has the talent, just needs motivation. Lets hope 2012 brings the magic back to Boston.

"Back to Foulke, Red Sox fans have longed to hear it: The Boston Red Sox are World Champions!" This quote by Joe Buck still gives me goosebumps when i hear it.

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