Ten years ago today the Boston Red Sox did the unthinkable when they completed the greatest playoff comeback in baseball history.
You may recall the details (and you’ll likely see lots of articles, Facebooks posts and Tweets about it today): The Yankees dominated the Red Sox in the first three games of the 2004 ALCS, all hope was lost once again for Boston fans, and then the Sox flipped the script and won four straight.
Ten years ago today the Red Sox won that stress-free game 7 at Yankee Stadium. The final score was 10-3, but it wasn’t even that close. (Did Terry Francona really insert Pedro Martinez into the game in the 7th inning or did I dream that?)
Ten years is a significant amount of time in any person’s life, but I’d argue the 10 years between being a 21-year-old and a 31-year-old probably involves more maturing than most 10-year chunks.
With that in mind, here are eight memories from that historic day of October 20th, 2004, and how the current 31-year-old me would react to those memories now.
- THEN: When the Red Sox dropped the first three games of the 2004 ALCS, I remember thinking, “Hey, at least I won’t have to go through the darkest of depressions like I did in 2003 when they lost in dramatic fashion in game 7 at Yankee Stadium. At least this year will be like ripping a band-aid off.” NOW: Of course I have the perspective of having witnessed that ’04 team’s comeback, but I’ve also seen the 2009-10 Boston Bruins and 2013-14 San Jose Sharks choke away 3-0 playoff series leads. I’ve also seen the Red Sox comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the 2007 ALCS. At this point I’m pretty well-conditioned to never write off a team’s chances before a series is actually over.
- THEN: After the comeback was complete, I did what any boozed-up college kid would do: I marched down to Kenmore Square and began celebrating/rioting with all the other morons. In fact, I was one of a few dozen people who climbed on top of a city bus that was parked near Fenway and started screaming, cheering and stomping my feet. When the Police arrived, I was the third-to-last person to jump off the bus. The last guy that jumped off? The cops grabbed him, shoved him into the bus and started hitting him. I assume that was to teach the rest of us a lesson. NOW: I would either go to the closest bar with a couple friends and take a few celebratory shots, or I’d stay home and pop a bottle of champagne and watch on TV & Twitter for all the idiots rioting and setting things on fire.
- THEN: Even though the Red Sox were renowned for blowing it in the playoffs and crushing their fans, there was never any sense on this night that we were celebrating too soon. Sure, the Cardinals still stood in the way of the first World Series in 86 years, but this was a done deal. There was no way they were getting that close to history, in such a once-in-a-lifetime way and not completing the task. NOW: I’ve lived through 18-1. The Patriots’ fourth Super Bowl—Tom Brady’s fourth Super Bowl—would have been historic, and it was going to happen in a once-in-a-lifetime way. But we all know how that worked out so I would never consider anything in sports a done deal ever again.
- THEN: The 2004 ALCS served a secondary purpose for me. There was a girl who I was trying to date back then (technically I was trying to steal her from her boyfriend at the time). She happened to be at my apartment during game 4 of the ALCS. From that point on, I convinced her she had to watch the rest of the playoffs at my apartment for good luck. NOW: HA! I apologize to my fiancee if this sounds bad (by the way, she is not the girl from the 2004 ALCS). I would much rather watch an historic Boston sports moment with only my male Boston friends. I find that most of the women who are regulars in my life do not care one bit about sports. If a few of them were present during a big game, they would likely be chatting about weddings, babies and how Charlie Hunnam should have played the main guy in the 50 Shades of Grey movie instead of the actor who actually got the part.
- THEN: The Red Sox getting to the World Series meant my brothers would be joining me in Boston for a few days to take in all the action. One was coming from New Hampshire and the other from San Francisco. It was very important to me back then to witness this history with my two best friends and favorite sports-watching partners. NOW: Sure, the feelings may still be the same (this is part of the reason I book a ticket to San Francisco each year for the Super Bowl…hoping, waiting for the three of us to finally celebrate a Patriots Title together), but I would never admit to them that the quality time is important to me. If anything, we’re at a stage where we try to make the others feel like they’re not important to us. I told you the 31-year-old version of me was more mature.
- THEN: The 2004 ALCS was when I first started thinking about someday writing a book to commemorate Boston sports during my four years of college. After all, I was there for three Patriots Super Bowls, one Red Sox World Series and three Boston University Beanpot Championships (if you’re into that sort of thing). NOW: I can barely be bothered to write one meaningful blog post per week, let alone a full book. Also, Boston teams just refuse to stop winning Championships so I might be dead by the time there’s enough of a break in the action to actually write the book.
- THEN: Two days after the game 7 win in Yankee Stadium, I saw Dave Roberts at a bar in Boston. I noted what kind of beer he was drinking. Then I went to the bar and ordered that same drink. I stared at him until I saw him take the last sip of that Amstel Light, and then I sprinted over and handed him the fresh one and said, “Thanks for the steal.” NOW: Yep. Still pretty obsessed with any celebrity related to sports. Down here in LA, my fiancee will often try to get me to follow around celebrities when we see them in public. I usually decline because they’re meaningless people like Gwyneth Paltrow or Steve Carrell. But I have been known to stare at Bill Simmons for three straight hours when I see him at a Kings game. Not much has changed in this regard.
- THEN: For a 21-year-old who didn’t have a lot of responsibility at the time, this Red Sox Championship was the most important thing that had ever happened to me. NOW: Well…once again, not much has changed.