The Sweetest Thing

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“All empires fall sooner of later.” – Larry Lucchino.

Beth and the fellows at Surviving Grady have done this to a much better extent but, frankly, when it comes to the Red Sox finally vanquishing the Yankees, there can never be enough rehashing as far as I’m concerned. And so I sat, beer in one hand, remote in the other, and watched NESN’s rebroadcast of the 2004 ALCS Game 7. Red Sox/Yankees. Athens/Sparta. Good/Evil. Presenting, one woman’s descent into madness.

Now, keep in mind that this is all written upon the re-broadcast. I know how this game turns out. And yet still? Insanity. The first time around, I was packed into a bar in JP, tapping my leg furiously and dry heaving, unable to choke down the Oktoberfest that Mike kept thoughtfully providing, but glad it was there, lest self-medication become necessary. It was not to be. I also hadn’t seen any of these postgame interviews before as immediately after the Pokester tossed to Minky for the final out, I exploded off the barstool and out into the street where I spent the next hour or so dancing with the Dominican population of JP, hugging strangers and watching the voicemail total on my phone rise exponentially. It was perhaps the most joyous I’ve ever been. Who wouldn’t want to live that again? And so, the diary.

Top of the1st:

I sincerely hope that Mark Bellhorn demanded an apology from Tim McCarver after all the smack McCarver was talking about Bellhorn being a “highly unusual” number two hitter because he strikes out so much. Of course, Bellhorn being Bellhorn, he may not even be aware the game is being broadcast on television. God do I miss that expressionless and infuriating little monkey!

Immediately after Johnny Damon is thrown out at home plate – which I had mentally blocked out, by the way – Oritz hits a monster two-run homer. And by “immediately,” I mean “the next pitch.” What does McCarver want to talk about? Damon and how he should have stopped at third. Thanks, Tim, don’t pay any attention to the fact that the Sox are up by two now or that Brown is clearly struggling. Let’s talk about what you perceive is the Red Sox’ stupidity. Please, let’s.

Bottom of the 1st:

Shut up, Gary Sheffield, shut up and die. I hate you and your perpetual motion, metronome bat moving thing. And your sad excuse for a mustache. And your pants and the way they inexplicably remind me of Scrooge McDuck and his spats. I don’t know why it makes me think that but it does. And like Scrooge McDuck, Sheffield is not a nice man who can swim in giant vaults of his money. And so? Hatred.

Top of the 2nd:

I do believe Kevin Brown’s neck is as big as his head. Frightening, truly frightening.

I love how Joe Buck continually reminds Al Leiter of the time his Marlins blew a series lead in 1997. Yes, that will make the guy like you, remind him of his failures. Honestly, I keep forgetting that Leiter is even there thanks to McCarver’s ceaseless babbling. My father, no surprise, has been ahead of the McCarver hating curve. It’s trendy to hate him now but, as my dad says, “I’ve hated him for fifteen years.” To that end: http://www.shutuptimmccarver.com/.

According to Fox’s completely useless man in the stands commentator, some of the Red Sox players watched “Miracle” before the game. The Yankees had Bucky Dent throw out the first pitch. In case, you know, you weren’t aware of it, the Red Sox are the Sunshine Huggy Bunch and the Yankees are fucking evil. Keep in mind that I heard none of this commentary the first time around. Behold the wonder of McCarver/Buck.

Millar singles up the middle. I’m getting bounce up and down giddy just thinking of what happens shortly. Really, like, pee my pants excited.

Oh, so you mean that the team that wins this game has to go home? Thanks for clearing that up, Tim.

According to Buck, the Yankees have “Loaiza, Vasquez, Mussina and everyone else available in their bullpen.” Put in Vasquez. I beg of you. *Kristen giggles maniacally.*

Brown is on fumes. Punch a wall! Punch a wall!

Hee, “intestinal parasite.” The litany of “Brown being a flippin’ idiot” continues.

God I’m going to miss Cabrera, or, per Kerri, Chicken Man.

“The Yankees have had a lot of success with Cabrera…when they’ve gotten him out.” Ladies and gentleman, the genius of Tim McCarver.

Buck keeps reminding us that Al Leiter is there with these very obvious, “Al, tell us about this pitch selection,” questions. It’s like he’s purposely trying to make Leiter feel included. Interesting since Leiter is the only one of the trio with anything even remotely insightful to say.

Varitek looks like a warrior sitting on the bench in this red shin guards and chest protector. Like he’s ready to grab a sword, take to the field and just start decapitating anyone in pinstripes. In. Ten. Si. Ty. I’m just saying. Had this turned into an actual battle that warranted riot police like Game 6, Varitek is the guy I’d want leading the charge. Just thought I’d mention that.

Ooo! Ooo! This is the good part when Damon welcomes Vasquez to the game with a grand slam off his first pitch, right? Right? You know, this is sort of fun in retrospect. The Sox were laying the smack down and taking no prisoners. Heather, for one, is very glad that Vasquez is no longer a Yankee. She can now commence drooling over him. Seems wrong when he’s the enemy. See also: Kristen and Andy Pettitte.

Welcome to the game, Javy. If you’ll just follow Damon’s grand slam as it exits the park.

Hey, it’s Giambi on the bench. Hey, buddy, where ya been? Ladies and gentleman, the $82 million paperweight.

I almost feel sorry for Brian Cashman. Almost.

They’re still there, Manny. But thanks for checking.

Fox gives us highlights of Papi’s utter dominance. I sincerely hope the Yankees and their fans wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat screaming, “Ahhhh! Ortiiiiiiz!”

Bottom of the 2nd:

Objectively, or, as objectively as possible, I can officially say that Hideki Matsui is one ugly-ass bastard.

Buck is already trying to jinx the Sox. “The Yankees are the best come from behind team in baseball.” Good to know, Joe. “There’s not one fan of the Red Sox comfortable with a 6-0 lead in the second inning of Game 7 in New York against the Yankees.” Shut up, shut up and die, Joe.

Honestly, how does Jorge Posada put on pillowcases? The man has no chin. None whatsoever.

Top of the 3rd:

I love you, Jason Varitek! I love you to teeny, little squishy bits of awesomeness.

“Blown out of the tank?” What does that even mean? Tim’s been hanging out with John Madden again, hasn’t he? “And watch what he does with this bunt attempt here. I’m gonna show you. I want you to watch something. Boom!” God help us all.

Oh, hey, Al Leiter, forgot you were there.

Obviously, Joe, you are new here if you think Sox fans the world over are calling people to ask “Can you believe this?” It’s the third flippin’ inning. Kindly shut it.

Oh my god, my heart just filled with love for the Pokester! I hope he enjoys Seattle. I for one, will miss him dearly.

All the girls love the Bill Mueller. I am starting to see it. I love his swing. It’s one of the sweetest swings I remember. He does that follow-through where he pushes the bat with the palm of his top hand. It’s just a beautiful swing. Didn’t work there, but still.

Evidently, Derek Jeter gets his own promo and song. ‘Cause Fox is totally impartial. Bastards.

Bottom of the 3rd:

I completely forgot how fucking masterful Derek Lowe was in this game. I might actually, *gulp* miss the guy. Did I just say that?

Awww, Jeter’s all dirty. I am honestly surprised the Yankee front office Gestapo doesn’t make the players change uniforms between innings if they get dirt on them. *cue A-Rod furiously rubbing dirt on his uniform so he looks like he’s been busy too*

Tim, willing the ball to be fair does not make it so. Unless you’re Carlton Fisk. And you, sir, are no Carlton Fisk.

When Varitek throws to second to try to get a runner and his mask slides off the side of his face? I, um, at a loss for words.

I hate Jeter and his hits and his stupid Muppet face and his RBIs and his, well, his everything, frankly. *talks to self* Calm down, Kristen. It doesn’t matter. Right, okay, I’m fine.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that expression on Derek Jeter’s face.” I don’t even know what to say to that, Tim. There’s a really off-color joke in here but I’ll just leave it alone…for now.

Top of the 4th:

“Yeah, we spotted you one run but if you don’t mind, we’d like it back. Plus one” At least, that’s what I imagine Johnny Damon is saying as he follows the flight of his 2 run homer into the upper deck. 8-1 Sox.

After the Bellhorn walk, is this when we knew that the Sox were going to win? I mean, we didn’t know ‘cause they’re the Red Sox and all, but still, that was a good sign, yes?

McCarver is making fun of the hugging, specifically David Ortiz. I will now make it my personal mission in life to find that man and destroy him.

The Yankees have had $25 million in pitchers on the mound tonight. They’ve given up 8 runs. Hee. *cue happy chair dance*

An unbelievable tangent about peanuts. Hey, Al Leiter, enjoy the bathrooms?

McCarver is talking about hurricanes and riptides as relates to walks in a baseball game. Yeah, I don’t know either. Sometimes I honestly wonder if the man is completely coherent. Like, if you rapped on the side of his head, would he notice?

I’ve said it before but it warrants mentioning again; I love Jason Varitek. Not only does he get a base hit but he quite possibly injures a Yankee infielder in the process. Except now it’s not a base hit. Now it’s an error on Cairo. McCarver is displeased. “Anyone who scores that an error has never tried to field one of those. Put them out there and see how they like it.” I would pay one million dollars to watch McCarver – current McCarver, not playing days McCarver – attempt to field a scorching one-hopper. Can we do this? I’m not kidding, I will call my bank right now.

Evidently, the Sox have committed only one error in the ALCS. Marked contrast to what will eventually happen in the World Series when they turn into the flippin’ Marx Brothers out there.

Jim Leyritz is in the stands. He looks an awful like Joe Pantoliano from the Sopranos. And he wants the Yankees to win so I sincerely hope he meets a similar fate.

Top of the 7th:

NESN just skipped three innings. Pedro is warming in the bullpen. I’m so confused, it’s like time just sped up and I didn’t get to go along with it. Again, I repeat, Pedro is warming in the bullpen. This would be when my heart palpitations started. Who would have thought the sight of Pedro warming up would make me nervous? This is still the same man who came out of the bullpen in 1999 and made the Indians his bitch. What the hell is going on here?

I will say it again, more Al Leiter. Less McCarver and Buck. I believe I’ve made my point.

Felix Heredia? Yes, good choice. No, really, I mean it. Go with that. Double play, out of the inning. Fine then, be that way.

Bottom of the 7th:

Pedro is in the game. Sweet Jesus why couldn’t we have skipped this inning? I didn’t really need to relive the “Who’s Your Daddy?” business again. Okay, McCarver is questioning this move. Mc-fucking-Carver. That is not good news, Terry. And, naturally, Matsui rockets one to deep right. Naturally. Fucking Tito.

Bernie Williams hits one off the wall in center. I hate you, Yankees fans, I hate you something awful. Way to plug Yankee Stadium back in, Tito. *mumbles cursing under breath* 8-2 Sox.

8-3 Sox. Seriously? I am hyperventilating. And I know how this ends.

Hey, Captain Batting helmet, how you been? Anyone remember the Yankees bitching about Olerud’s bruised instep? Yeah, like the team that boasts a Franken-pitcher who had his flippin’ foot sewn back on is going to feel any sympathy for you.

Sometimes I wish there was a “re-insertion” rule in the majors like there is in Little League. Can Lowe go back in? Did I really just say that? Seriously, did the earth just tilt on its axis or something? I am banishing Pedro and pining for D-Lowe? Can that be right?

First of all, how fucking stupid are Yankees fans? The most insulting cheer they have all year they had to be GIVEN by Pedro? They couldn’t come up with that themselves? And their atrocious spelling on their hand-lettered signs breaks my little editor’s heart. I suppose that’s to be expected. I mean, they’re Yankees fans.

Pedro has had E. Nough. 95mph to blow away Olerud. Then he bears down and makes Cairo his bitch. Which is nice. Now can we stop these shenanigans?

Top of the 8th:

Flash Gordon is pitching with Captain Batting Helmet playing first. Bellhorn clangs the foul pole in what is frighteningly reminiscent of Todd Walker’s homer in last year’s ALCS. Fox brings out the “clang” noises again. Thanks, Fox and your crack team of sound technicians. Buck and McCarver are enamored with that sound. Enamored. They cannot stop talking about it. Evidently they are unaware that it is the 8th inning of a pivotal game. Al Leiter has fallen asleep again.

AHHHHH! Oh, sorry, Stephen King in the stands. That man is more terrifying than any of his imagined beasties.

Just ‘cause Jeter takes balls away from his center fielder does not make it a “great play.” He’s not Willie Fucking Mays out there so shut it.

Dear Jason Varitek: Name your price. Love, Kristen.

I just realized that I’m pretty sure that Jeter and A-Rod have some bizarre Morse code going on between them with their gum chewing patterns. I can’t tell you how I know this. I just have a feeling. I wonder what it means when A-rod chomps down really hard? Right, backing away from that one.

Bottom of the 8th:

Awwww, Pokey! I can’t wait for him to launch himself bodily onto the pigpile. Wait, getting ahead of myself.

Hee. Buck just said, “colossal collapse.” Which? Yeah, awesome. Say it again, Joe. I believe this is the only time I’ve actually implored the man to speak.

Brian Cashman seriously needs oxygen.

Al Leiter: “Could this be the worse loss in the Yankees history?” Why yes, yes it could, Al. Thanks for asking.

McCarver just called Minky “the human vacuum cleaner,” which, I’ll admit, made me giggle. Not so much because McCarver is clever but because, hee, Minky. Hee “vacuum cleaner.” Hee. I’m nine.

You know, for Lowe being so bitter about being in the bullpen to start this series, he sure left Boston on a high note. I appreciate that. It’s nice when that happens *cough* Pedro *cough*

Top of the 9th:

Flash is still in. Fox is breaking out the “Major Upsets” graphic. They’re still trying to jinx us. And to that I say, “Neener, neener, neener!”

Cabby gets Trot home on a sac fly. Yankees fans are strangely quiet. As they should be. Forever and ever. To prove my point, a Yankees fan almost nailed Johnny Damon by throwing a foul ball back on the field. Monsters. All of them, fucking infants.

Bottom of the 9th:

Big Timlin starts off. Base hit by Ugly Godzilla. Last gasps here, people, last gasps. The fans know it too. They’re just waiting now. Hey, that’s our look.

Hi Giambi, you crazy, unblinking, steroid riddled bastard.

McCarver is breaking out “tenacity” and “exhausting.” It’s nice that someone finally gave him a thesaurus.

Rat Boy pops up. The Sox are one out away as Manny helpfully reminds us. I heart Manny.

A-Rod is pouting on the bench. Pouting, I tell you. It’s awesome. I would pay good money to see that every day. What can I say? That man’s misery amuses me.

Lofton walks. *gasp, gasp, gasp*

Embree replaces Timlin. I can only imagine the 76-year-old Ruben Sierra is thinking, “Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck.” As well he should be.

“Ground ball to second. Reese. The Boston Red Sox have won the pennant!”

And then? Pandemonium. It was beautiful.

The thing about Game 7 is that the Yankees were running scared. The Red Sox weren’t just blowing smoke when they said that the pressure was all on the Yankees. It was. Things never should have gotten to that point.

But the fact that they did and the fact that the Sox did what they did – never stopped having fun and played some kick ass baseball – is a testament to many things. Chief among them, giving up or laying off is for losers. And there are no losers in Red Sox Nation. Sleep well, members of the Nation. The World Series starts next week. Sweet dreams.

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