10 Years Ago Today: The 2004 Red Sox Comeback Through More Mature Eyes

 

boston globe 2004

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

 

The Boston Comeback That Made Almost All Of Us Look Like Fools (With a Big Assist From Twitter)

I’m sure guest-blogging extraordinaire Nkilla will be along later today with his Round 2 preview of the NHL playoffs, but it would be irresponsible of me not to post some disjointed, incoherent thoughts about what went down in Boston last night.

-I don’t care how spoiled Boston fans have been since the Patriots’ 2001 run. We were all thinking the exact same thing as last night’s 3rd period creeped closer and closer to the 10-minute mark: “Son of a bitch, we’ve been tricked again. This team is no different than last year’s gigantic disappointment. Only 115 days til football starts, thank the Lord.”

-God damn Twitter and Facebook. In the old days, I would have just told the person I was watching the game with that the Bruins were frauds, had no heart, should fire their coach before the final whistle…and then I could have denied it all after the comeback. Now my naysaying is all over the friggen web for eternity.

-Just imagine if Twitter was around during the 2004 ALCS. I can’t even fathom the type of hate I would have been spewing at the Red Sox after that 19-8 game 3 debacle against the Yankees in Fenway.

-Or even worse, imagine if they had liquor as tasty as Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey back in 2004. Dangerous.

-Here’s a sampling of some of my Tweets and Facebook posts that historians 100 years from now will be laughing at as they put together a complete history of my life:

  • “1 of 2 things happens in this game: Bruins lead by multiple goals the whole way, or I chug Jack Daniel’s Honey for the next 3 hrs” (No exaggeration whatsoever. I severely underestimated how much I’d need so during the first intermission I sprinted to the store to re-load on the Honey. Best move I made all night.)
  • “I would tell Lucic to take the sweater off and exit the building right now if I were Julien. Awful, Nice season B’s” (In my defense, this was written the moment after Toronto scored their third goal, a goal that only happened because Lucic, having beaten Phil Kessel to the puck in the corner of the Bruins defensive zone, decided he wanted to make contact with Kessel more than grabbing the puck and clearing it out. It was an inexcusable play in my mind. As for the “Nice season B’s” comment, remember that they were now down two goals with 18 minutes to go and had scored all of three goals in the previous 162 minutes dating back to the start of game 5. I don’t think it was so wrong to write them off here.)
  • “Choking away a 3-1 series lead when 2 of final 3 games were at home is greater than or equal to a baseball team losing 9.5 game lead in Sept” (Fine, this one was a major exaggeration. Of course losing a lead like that in baseball when all you have to do is win 8 out of your final 27 games is worse than losing three straight hockey games.)
  • “I’d bet on Titus Young Sr getting signed by Patriots over Bruins coming back in this game” (And I’d still make that bet if the situation came up again. Remember, three total goals in 162 minutes and they needed three in less than 15 minutes!)
  • “I refuse to stop tweeting about the Bruins demise…It might just be the thing keeping them alive” (Rule #1 of debilitating superstitions: If good things start to happen while you’re behaving a certain way, don’t you dare change that behavior. My negativity just might be the thing that saved Boston’s season. I accept thank you’s in the form of paid writing jobs or straight up donations to the “Keep Ross Unemployed Fund.”)
  • “The Bruins treat playoff series like I treated college papers” (Pretty self-explanatory. Slack off until it’s so close to the deadline that you have a stress-related ulcer and then do just enough to not get kicked out of school/the playoffs.)
  • “So, New York, we meet again” (I don’t know this Rangers team, but I don’t care. They’re from New York. That’s all that matters.)

-I want to talk to someone who left the Garden when the Bruins were down 4-1 or 4-2. Not to make fun of them (Lord knows I was thisclose to changing the channel to watch the other game 7 going on at the same time), but to hear them express their feelings as they were driving out of Boston and realizing what was happening. Must have felt like a kick squarely to the testicles.

-Logic says the Bruins don’t get out of the 2nd round. Not only did they get outplayed in 4.5 of 7 games against the Maple Leafs, but they continued to lose key guys throughout the process…Andrew Ference, Wade Redden, Dennis Seidenberg. Good thing they have a guy who annually ranks as the best defensive-minded forward in Patrice Bergeron because they might just have to ask him to line up on the blue line if things keep going this way.

-You can never feel confident when two of your defensemen are a 19-year-old rookie (Dougie Hamilton) and a guy with nine total games of NHL experience (Matt Bartkowski).

-But there’s apparently no place for logic when it comes to the Boston Bruins and playoff hockey in general (as evidenced by the fact that the number 2, 3 and 4 seeds in the West bowed out in Round 1, along with the number 2 and 3 seeds in the East).

-As far as I’m concerned, Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien should grab a couple scrubs from Providence and sub them in for Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin for the rest of this playoff run. They are invisible. Marchand has all of three total points (all assists), ranking him 99th out of all players in the playoffs. But hey, he looks like Gretzky compared to Seguin….one point, an assist. There’s literally no one Julien can put in for them that will hurt the team more than they’re already hurting it.

-Bruins went 1-2 against the Rangers this year, but the two losses were as close as can be…one in OT and the other in a shootout. So there’s hope, I guess.

-Not that I would ever root for a triple-heart attack game again, but this just might have been the thing that gets my girlfriend legitimately interested in the NHL Playoffs for the rest of her life. I’ve been trying to tell her for the past week how amazing game 7’s can be, mostly because I wanted her to be OK with me hogging the TV for every possible hockey game, but now she’s going to think every game 7 is as crazy as last night’s. If that’s what it took, then I guess I’m glad it happened (Maybe her interest will stay with only the Bruins…she didn’t seem too thrilled this morning when I told her round 2 starts up immediately with two games tonight).

-I haven’t heard every sound byte from last night yet, but the leader in the clubhouse is Tuukka Rask saying “You’re either a hero or an asshole.” The Bruins seem to have a handful of both.

-Going forward I’ll make a deal with the Bruins. You play 60 minutes a game as if you actually care about winning in the playoffs, and I’ll stay away from prematurely writing your obituary on Twitter.