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On the brink of elimination, Yankees looked to a curious source for inspiration: the 2004 Red Sox

Yankees players were in need of cheering up during their Game 3 loss to the Astros.Jamie Squire/Getty

Update, Oct. 23: Astros complete sweep of Yankees, advance to fourth World Series in six years

NEW YORK — As you may have heard, the 2004 Red Sox are the only team in baseball history to come back from a 3-0 deficit and win a best-of-seven playoff series.

Those Sox are an example that anything is possible.

So with what were undoubtedly the best of intentions, Yankees mental skills coach Chad Bohling put together a four-minute highlight clip of the ‘04 Sox and sent it to Yankees players on Sunday before Game 4 of the American League Championship Series.


It was meant to motivate the Yankees, who were thoroughly outplayed by the Astros in the first three games of the series.

Oh, would it be fun to know what Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera thought of this.

Mental skills are not my purview. But having the Yankees watch clips of their predecessors suffer through one of the all-time choke jobs doesn’t seem all that motivating.

This would be like the Red Sox showing first baseman Triston Casas a clip of Bill Buckner’s error in the 1986 World Series as a reminder to stay down on ground balls.

The Astros were looking ahead, not behind. Manager Dusty Baker is one win away from returning to the World Series and getting another chance at the championship that has eluded him for 25 years as a manager.

Baker won a pennant with the 2002 Giants then fell to the Angels in the Series. The Astros got there last season only to lose to the Braves.

This season is Houston’s sixth consecutive trip to the ALCS, the third under Baker. He was the right person for the job in 2020 after the sign-stealing scandal came to light and the organization was under fire.


“I’m hoping that my presence here has been about continuing the process and enhancing the organization,” Baker said before the start of the game was delayed by rain. “I would like to think that most places that I’ve been I left the organization in better shape than when I got there.

“So it’s a mind-set. Some of the nucleus is still here. Some of the guys have taken over a more leadership role than they had before. Most of these guys were leaders where they came from. It’s just that somebody else was leading in the process.

“So we have some great guys here. They accept the young. They teach the young. They show the young on how to play the game and how to go about your business. It’s a very exciting time for me and the organization. And also these guys have come to expect winning. Winning breeds winning.”

As the Yankees were busy marveling at the 2004 exploits of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez, the Phillies were wrapping up the National League pennant about 110 miles down Interstate 95.

That’s where Ortiz was working for Fox. But he was far from the only connection to the Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park.

Former Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski was celebrating his fourth trip to the World Series with four different teams.

Dombrowski put together the 2018 Red Sox, a steamroller of a team. That got him fired less than a year later because of philosophical differences over how the organization spent money.


Dombrowski took time away from the game for the first time, then joined the Phillies before last season. There were no philosophical differences this time. Owner John Middleton wanted a winner for his city and money was no object.

After the Red Sox showed no interest in retaining Kyle Schwarber, Dombrowski signed him for four years and $79 million. Schwarber hit 46 homers in the regular season and has three in the playoffs.

Schwarber was a difference-maker on the field and in the clubhouse for the Sox. At the time, there was not an obvious fit for him on the roster.

The Phillies used Schwarber in left field, which is now a hole for the Red Sox after Alex Verdugo was shifted to right field. The Sox also don’t have a designated hitter with J.D. Martinez going into free agency.

Dombrowski fired manager Joe Girardi after 51 games and replaced him with Rob Thomson. The Phillies took off from there. Their last championship was in 2008.

That Dombrowski returned to the World Series before the Red Sox did is something he’s surely reveling in, although he would never say it.

If the Sox owners need cheering up, the Yankees have a video they can watch.

Peter Abraham can be reached at Follow him @PeteAbe.