I’m an unabashed Boston Red Sox fan. And no, I didn’t just recently come to rooting for them, I’m not one of those. I’ve been watching and enjoying their successes (and lamenting their downfalls) since about 1975. When I was growing up, my parents were avid New York Yankee fans. To me, rooting for the Yankees was easy, since, during most of the 20th century, they managed to have incredibly good fortune getting to the post-season, amassing 20 World Series titles by the 1970’s. By contrast, the Red Sox were mired in a slump dating back to 1918. So, not quite the ‘loveable losers’ like the Chicago Cubs (who hadn’t won a World Series since 1908) but they were most definitely the underdogs, and who doesn’t want to root for an underdog? Of course, considering my parents were rooting for one team, I felt I needed to give some love elsewhere. And it created a rivalry of our own. The other team I rooted for was the New York Mets and even managed to get to Shea Stadium a few times before it was demolished.
Over the years, the Sox have gotten to the World Series, only to be denied again and again. Even in 1986, when the Mets & Sox were in the Fall Classic, I was a bit torn, wanting both teams to win. I even managed to score tickets to see a couple of the Series games in Queens, I was in college and one of my housemates’ father was on the umpiring crew. So we took the train from Poughkeepsie to Grand Central in NY, hopped on the subway and headed out to Shea. That was amazing. I’ve never been to a World Series since, and probably never will. But at least I have that memory in my quiver.
Getting back to the topic here, last night the Red Sox were playing the LA Dodgers in Game 3. The Sox were up two games to none, having won both games that were played at Fenway Park in Boston. I’m absolutely certain that no one was expecting what happened last night, certainly not me. I was fully expecting to get to bed after the game (I did) and get a good night’s sleep before picking up where I left off in the cleaning process for my mother’s visit come Monday. Only, that’s not what happened. The game was a seesaw battle from the beginning. The Dodger pitchers had been hammered pretty hard in Games 1 & 2, and they put a 24 yr old kid on the mound to start Game 3. As it turns out, it was a great move by Dodger manager Dave Roberts. The kid was stellar. Completely unfazed by the array of hitters that came up in the Boston lineup, and he sent them down either by strikeouts or by getting them to pop up or ground out (mostly pop-ups). Los Angeles (LA) managed to draw blood first this game, connecting for a solo home run off the Boston starter, Rick Porcello. After that, it became a bit of a boring game, the innings started to blend together, at least until Boston managed to tie the game in the 8th on a home run.
Once the game went into extra innings, it definitely took on a life of its own. And got weird. Boston went ahead in the 13th, on a crazy play, and then the Dodgers tied it again in their half of the inning. The two teams were going through pitchers at a terrible pace, and one of the announcers even mentioned at one point that the game had used 23 dozen baseballs by the 15th inning. Considering in the early part of the 20th century, both ball teams would only use ONE ball in a game, that was a mind-boggling statistic. Just a little historic nibble for you, that changed after a player was killed by a pitched ball. After a rule change, as soon as a ball got even a little dirty, it was replaced by a clean one. Which is why nowadays the major (and minor) leagues go through so many baseballs.
The game had started at 8 pm Eastern time. By 3 am, it was still going. I made a pact with myself that at 3:30, win or lose, I was going to head to bed. I had things to do here today, and couldn’t be sleeping until noon because they were still playing baseball at 6 am. Of course, once I had shut off the game, it ended. Certainly, that was to be expected, since, after about the 15th inning, both teams were just trying to hit the ball as hard as they could, to attempt to get a home run. So, there were a lot of strikeouts, a lot of line drives and very little strategy on the parts of either manager. Boston had managed to go to the pitcher that was supposed to start Game 4. He managed to throw nearly 100 pitches in relief, clearly 40+ more than the guy that started the game did! It was little wonder he gave up the game-winning home run. I expect in a way it was almost a relief. That game definitely needed to be over.
While I’m sorry that the Red Sox lost the game, it’s not the end of the world. They’re still ahead 2 games to 1, and with two more wins, will have clinched the World Series. I remain optimistic!