With regard to the ongoing saga of the Boston Red Sox and their futile pursuit of one lousy little World Series triumph, I have always been of the opinion that it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
This time, I’m not so sure.
Who among us needed this?
I speak not as an embittered scribe who boldly predicted the Red Sox over the Yankees in five (while hinting that a sweep would not be inconceivable), but as a baseball-loving citizen of Greater Boston who is tired of the nonsense. If it’s not 1918, it’s the Yankees. If it’s not Denny Galehouse, it’s Bill Buckner. If it’s not Bucky Dent, it’s Aaron Boone. And then there is always the C-word. I’m tired of it all, and I had convinced myself - yes, I’ll say it - that this really was The Year.
Well, in case you haven’t noticed, it’s not. The Red Sox have laid a brontosaurus egg in the American League Championship Series. They are down, 3-0, after last night’s 19-8 rout, and, in this sport, that is an official death sentence. Soon it will be over, and we will spend another dreary winter lamenting this and lamenting that. Sure, you can root for the National League team to defeat the Yankees, but just exactly how satisfying is that going to be?
When Red Sox seasons end, people normally focus on the tragic endings, the great what-ifs? Not this time. The Yankees took immediate control of this series in the first inning of the first game last Tuesday. The Red Sox went down 1-2-3 (Johnny Damon’s strikeout an ominous beginning), and the Yankees nailed Curt Schilling for two runs when they came to bat. Included in their attack were doubles by Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui, the first two of 19 extra-base hits they have smashed hither and yon, down foul lines, off walls, over walls, and, in the case of Alex Rodriguez’s home run off Bronson Arroyo last night, into the territory of a friendly northern neighbor.
This time there will be no sad tales. Bucky and Aaron are safe. No one will be horning in on their hero’s status in this rivalry. There was no need for anyone to hit a clutch late-inning home run. You don’t need a clutch late-inning home run when you’ve already scored 11 runs by the fourth inning and 17 by the seventh.
And we thought the Red Sox had the superior pitching?
Well, yeah, we did. Of course, we had no idea what was really going on with Curt Schilling’s ankle. “I’m not planning on it being an issue,” he told us Monday. It turned out to be a monumental issue. He had no chance against anyone, let alone a team as awesomely potent as the 2004 New York Yankees, who have a punishing batting order that is better than at any point in the season now that Matsui seems incapable of making an out.
Game 2 was no horror show. Pedro Martinez pitched well enough to win a lot of games, but Jon Lieber was substantially better. But please don’t overdue the Pedro thing. He needed 113 pitches to get through his six innings. Three runs in six innings may be a so-called Quality Start, but it’s nothing spectacular. The Red Sox needed more.
That brings us to last night. This was the biggest test of Arroyo’s career, and he flunked. He was pounded. There is nothing more to say.
But there was still a game when he left. So we had to watch Ramiro Mendoza balk home a run. We had to watch Curtis Leskanic pitch a little evening BP. And then we had to watch Tim Wakefield, the man who was supposed to start tonight’s game, get whacked around.
The Red Sox went from leading, 4-3, to being tied at 6-6 to being down, 17-6. Delightful.
You can say that it’s always worse to lose in some spectacularly theatrical way, but there is nothing particularly uplifting about being humiliated, and in your own ballpark.
“Nothing good has come from this. Nothing.”Bob Ryan
After every Yankee hit, the PA voice in the press box would inform all the scribes that Bernie Williams had just set one postseason record and tied another, or that Alex Rodriguez had just established a new postseason record by scoring five runs, or that the Yankees have just tied a postseason record by knocking out eight doubles, tying a mark set by the 1906 White Sox.
What that voice did not tell you was that back in ‘06, the fans were allowed on the outfield grass and that some of those extra-base hits were ground-rule doubles and even rule ground-rule triples. So the actual truth is that the Yankees had blasted the Red Sox worse than anyone has blasted anyone in more than 100 years of postseason baseball.
August seems a long time ago. The Anaheim series seems a long time ago. The idea that the Red Sox accomplished anything good at all this season seems inconceivable. The only thing that resonates now is the idea that, once again, the Red Sox have been beaten by the Yankees, this time in an incredibly undignifed manner.
Nothing good has come from this. Nothing. We all wanted the Yankees. What, dare I say it, idiots we all were.