As the Astros lost their 3rd straight ALCS game to the Tampa Bay Rays last night, I sat back and watched every ounce of light flicker out from the eyes of all our hopeful fans. Strangely enough, I didn’t share their despair, despite being the nihilistic realist that I am. I, instead, began reminiscing a story, and I’d like to share that tale with y’all. This’s not a recap of the first game which could’ve been won with one swing of the bat, nor is it a distortion of our second outing that was riddled with stupid mistakes. We won’t even relive game 3, a matchup where Dusty Baker triggered every Houston sports fan’s PTSD by pulling a starter (who was fucking dealing) waaaay too early. No, this is a story about the 2004 Boston Red Sox.
On October 17th, 2004, the Boston Red Sox found themselves in a hole that no team in American sports history had ever dug their way out of (except in Hockey, but tbh I’m not gonna accept Hockey as one of the major sports until Houston gets a NHL franchise, till then it’s just short-field ice soccer). Boston hadn’t won a title since World War 1 & here they were down 3-0 to the New York Bombers in a playoff series. You can blame Red Sox fans all you want for famously being the most racist pieces of shit in the league, but you can’t blame em’ for drowning themselves in Sam Adams when the baseball gods had been against them every season for 8 ½ decades… Game 4, Down 1 run in the bottom of the 9th, Dave Roberts (yeah, that Dave Roberts) steals 2nd base, then gets knocked in by a Bill Mueller single off the best closer of all time to tie it up. 2 extra innings later, David Ortiz hits a walk-off dinger. Game 5 was just as tight, if not tighter, but the man, the myth, the legend Big Papi did it again in extras, slapping a walk-off single in the 14th. Game 6 was a weird one; Curt Schilling came out the gates bleeding through his sock (battling an ankle injury at the time) and his 7IP/1R performance was about as good as he is shitty of a human being. Nevertheless, Bronson Arroyo gives up an additional run in the 8th, and with Jeter on 3rd & AROD up to the plate, the fate of the series relied on that dinosaur Joe West’s ruling of the AROD slap play (one of maybe six calls that guy’s gotten right in his entire career). The Red Sox go on to win game six 4-2, then hang double digits on the Yanks in game 7 to secure the greatest comeback that I’ve ever seen. Boston carried that momentum into the World Series and went on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals to win their first championship in 86 years.
If you’ve watched any of this year’s ALCS so far, you’re probably reading this & shaking your head, saying: “No fucking way.” – “If Altuve could just throw the ball we woulda been fine, but now we’re screwed..” – “We’ve done EVERYTHING right at the plate & nothing’s falling, so it’s pointless…” – “The baseball Gods just don’t want us to win”. To all of you, I politely say, shut the fuck up. Fuck your mind making sense of the situation, fuck your heart trying to shield you from that all-too-familiar Houston heartbreak, fuck the twitter trolls talking shit in your mentions, fuck all the statistics that are pointing the other way. Forget all that, all I want you to remember is games four through seven of the 2004 ALCS, ya know why? We got about 5 Big Papi-ish hitters, this Astros team is better suited for the situation than that Sox team was, and these Rays have nowhere near the talent that the 04’ Yankees club had.
This ain’t a divisional round 5-game series, if it was, they’d already be popping champagne, but I don’t see no bubbles yet; I know Tampa doesn’t really know how these work so lemme explain, in the big boy championship series’, we play 7. That situation in 04’, as well as the one we find ourselves in now, are the moments that truly bring out the beauty of this sport; there’s no clock, no shot leader, just opportunities until the very end. So, if we find our boys down in the bottom of the 9th tonight, you already know to start channeling that 2004 energy (throw on Napoleon Dynamite, jam some Brittney Spears, whatever you gotta do). We take it one game, one inning, one at-bat & one pitch at a time because everyone knows if we can weasel our way to a game 7, ANYTHING can happen. It ain’t over till it’s fucking over, God I love baseball.
-Taylor A. Jackson (@lilbrotaylor)