Thursday, October 21, 2004


Now, I’m not a Red Sox fan….and definitely not a Yankee fan.

But that was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen.

In the three major non-NFL leagues [MLB, NHL, NBA] the team that has won the first 3 games of a best-of-seven series has won 231 of 233 series. The two times that the team down 0-3 and won were in the NHL… in the Stanley Cup Finals. No NBA team. No MLB team. In MLB history, all 25 times a team was up 3-0, they won the series. In fact, 20 of the 25 teams up 3-0 went on to the sweep. And the mother of all stats….no MLB team down 0-3 has even FORCED a Game 7. The Sox did that with their win Tuesday night. So, the probability says that it is pretty much impossibly to come back to win a playoff series down 0-3.

Until tonight.

The Boston Red Sox, defying all odds, came back from down 3-games-to-0 to beat the hated New York Yankees….in Yankee Stadium….to take the American League pennant. Wow.

That fact alone is breathtaking. But, add to that the fact that the Sox were ONE INNING AWAY from being swept. In Game 4, Boston was down in the bottom of the ninth. Mariano Rivera, Mr. Automatic, was on the hill for New York.

Another astonishing thing is the way the series went. The Boston Red Sox are the sports example of “choke” [my feeling for the Sacto Kings aside]. Bill Buckner choked away a 1986 World Series. Bucky Dent [who threw the first pitch] and Aaron Boone both came from nowhere to break the Red Sox hearts. I don’t believe in any curse, but Boston does have a sore history with their baseball team. Yet, it was this team that did the thing that only those two NHL teams did….win a series after being down 0-3. Heck, up to this point, the biggest baseball comeback may have been the 1986 Red Sox [and remember the series after that] when the Angels had Boston on the ropes. Still. Of all the franchises….it was the Red Sox.

Derek Lowe pitched in Game 4...then came back on two days rest to throw a one-hitter in 6 innings against the Yanks in Game 7. Curt Schilling pitched Game 6 after pitching horribly in Game 1 with a torn tendon in his ankle…and was reported to be out for the remainder of the series. He pitched with sutures that held his ankle together….and bled thru his socks making him a true “red sock”….and pitched beautifully. One of the gutsiest performances of all time.

Then the Yankees. The most successful pro sports franchise in the American League….MLB….and America. The team that has won 4 of the last 8 World Series…and 6 of the last 8 American League pennants. This team has all the experience in the world. The team with guys with extreme poise. Yet, it was the New York Yankees that couldn’t finish a series after winning the first 3 games. Yes, the Yankees choked.

If everyone in the United States [all 290 million of us] gave $0.70 to the Yankees….it would pay their 2004 salary. It was the Yankees that traded for “baseball’s best player”, Alex Rodriguez, and his $25M per year contract. A-Rod went hitless in Game 7 [he never got the ball out of the infield] and made the “chop” in Game 6 that everyone has bashed him for. They blew saves in Games 4 and 5. The Yankees scored 19 runs in Game 3...but only 13 runs in the 3 games since then. That led to the second season in a row that the Yankees were eliminated in their own Stadium.

We know the Yankees and their 4 titles since 1996. And their 6 pennants since 1996. And they won the last 7 AL East titles….and Boston finished second every one of those years. But, remember this. The Red Sox won the series. And they should have won the last series….if Grady Little could have stood up to Pedro.

So, on to the World Series where Boston could face the Astros or Cardinals…who have their own Game 7 fiesta on Thursday. Since the Sox won their last title in 1918...they’ve been to 4 World Series, losing all 5 of course. Two of them….to the St. Louis Cardinals.

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