Don't Let Us Win Tonight
Those were the scores of the first three games of the 2004 American League Championship Series between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. As baseball fans know, Boston won four straight games to win the pennant, accomplishing a feat never before seen in Major League Baseball. The Red Sox went on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals winning their first World Series in 86 years, and breaking the infamous Curse of the Bambino.
Baseball history was written during those miraculous few weeks in late October 2004, however, too often lost in the raucous celebrations and ticker tape parades that followed is the adversity endured within the Red Sox clubhouse along their journey to the top of the baseball world.
“Pack of Frauds”
On the morning of October 17th, the Red Sox were set to host the Yankees at Fenway Park in Game 4 of the ALCS. Down 3 games to 0, the hometown paper had all but given up on their beloved Sox. In an article written by Boston Globe reporter Dan Shaughnessy, the Red Sox were referred to as a “pack of frauds who failed to show up to the biggest series of their lives.”
The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is often considered to be the most bitter rivalry in all of sports. This rivalry seemingly reached its hatred filled peak in 2003-2004 during which two of the most famous benches clearing brawls occurred. Pedro Martinez throwing a 72 year old Don Zimmer to the ground in one, and Alex Rodriguez and Jason Varitek squaring off at home plate in the other. Combine this with the fact that New York had knocked out Boston in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS and you have established the foundation for an emotionally charged series.
The Red Sox had to come from behind in the late innings to tie the game against Mariano Rivera in both Game 4 and Game 5, going on to win in extras in both games. Scratching out a run in the 9th against the best closer in baseball history twice while facing elimination is no easy feat.
The Bloody Sock
Game 6 is famous for the gem pitched by a 38 year old Curt Schilling, playing on an injured ankle in which blood was visibly soaking through his sock throughout the course of the game. Prior to Game 6, Schilling, who was diagnosed with a torn tendon sheath in his right ankle, underwent an impromptu operation performed by team doctor Bill Morgan. The operation which was described as barbaric, involved stitching Schilling’s loose ankle tendon back into his skin which, of course, was the source of the blood staining Schilling’s sock during the game. It later became known that Dr. Morgan performed the operation only once before, on a cadaver. Schilling threw 7 innings giving up only one run on four hits to put his team in a position to win in a hostile environment at Yankee Stadium. The bloody sock was later sold for $92,613 at an auction in 2013.
NYPD In Riot Gear
In Game 6, a discussion between the umpires determined that Alex Rodriguez be called out (originally called safe) for intentionally slapping the ball out of Red Sox pitcher Bronson Arroyo’s glove while trying to tag him out on a slow chopper hit up the first base line. The ball skirted down the right field line allowing Derek Jeter to score and pushing A-Rod to second base. The call was overturned, Rodriguez was called out and the run was taken off the board. Beer cans and empty bottles began raining down onto the field from the unhappy New York crowd. After a lengthy delay the game was continued with the NYPD on the field, fully outfitted in riot gear.
The Curse of the Bambino
If all of the prior adversity wasn’t enough, let’s not forget about the supernatural forces that were in play. The Red Sox had not won a World Series since 1918, an 86 year drought referred to as the Curse of the Bambino. In baseball superstition is everything, and in this case it had starved the faithful Red Sox fans, most of which had not seen a World Series Championship in their lifetimes and wanted one badly.
The 2004 Red Sox overcame about as much adversity as a single team can overcome in a 7 game series to write their names into baseball history.
Too often, players will let simple obstacles distract them from accomplishing their goals. Games are lost by dwelling on small failures such as starting off 0 for 2 or making an error in the field. Baseball is a game of failure, and it is how you deal with adversity that determines success.
Feeling sore before the game? Your team needs you, go put on for them and be willing to play through a little pain. Give up a few runs in the first inning against a rival in a hostile environment? You’ve still got plenty of bullets in your arm, go compete and give your team a chance to win. Down a couple runs in the late innings of an elimination game? Scratch and claw your way back into it.
Adversity only makes victory sweeter. Embrace the challenges and you might end up writing your name into baseball history.
Get After It,
The Bayou Band Team