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Home » Essential Empy & HistoryOctober 2005 » Red-Letter Day

Red-Letter Day

Happy world championship anniversary, fellow fans. Just a year ago today, everything changed. The sun shone brighter, the air seemed fresher. Things fell into sharp focus, touched with a clarity never before seen, not even on the most expensive high definition television available. My life did not change, but I learned that the gulf between what you are told is impossible and what is actually achievable is only as small or large as you make it.

Of the Red Sox, Darin Erstad said, “These boys are winning the World Series, by the way.” His team had been swept by the Red Sox in three games, including an extra innings affair that sustained the lore of David Ortiz. The last game of the ALDS had Ortiz wrenching victory from the clutches of defeat yet again with his 2-run homer in the 10th. Despite their rousing divisional series performance, however, the Red Sox returned to Fenway Park down 0-2 in the ALCS.

On the same evening as Game 3 my friends got married. For the first time I attended a Jewish wedding ceremony, an event that I played a small role in by holding the chuppa and assisting with the layout of the ketubbah. My friends, although they had scheduled the wedding in the midst of baseball’s postseason, knew well enough that there was a pivotal game that night and that I wouldn’t miss it. They understood when I bade them well somewhat early and rushed home from their reception so I could watch the opening ceremonies for the first home game of the series. Had I known the Cowsills would be part of the game’s festivities and the results of that game, I probably would have willingly chosen to participate in all manner of embarrassing dances and behaviors concomitant with receptions.

There was a haiku thread on the Royal Rooters message board initiated by Johnny of Love of Sox that chronicled the 2004 season in concentrated bursts of words. With my team down 0-3, 17 syllables of thought was the outside limit of what I could muster.

For a team that has some faith-
Word has no meaning.
October 17, 2004 at 10:14 AM

I sounded confident in that verse. I wasn’t. At that point, I was hoping the Red Sox weren’t going to get swept, plain and simple. I woke up early that Sunday morning and slouched dumbfounded in front of my computer for a long while, waiting for a coherent thought to coalesce. Those three lines were the result.

Sunday, October 17th was a nervous day. Somehow I had made it to game time almost emotionally intact. It’s difficult to write about the waves of anguish and jubilance of the next games. It seemed certain that Boston would lose in Games 4 and 5, a set of games that were a recursion of the postseason run itself. Just as three outs make an inning and 9 innings comprise a game, or how the regular season is divided into thirds and the post season into three series; the repeating of patterns seen at every stratum.

Special hightop cleat
Is the method to avert
“Walking disaster”
October 19, 2004 at 9:16 AM

By the coming of Game 6 I was giddy. My co-workers, all casual fans but enthusiastic, looked to me for some sort of guidance. I thought I should maintain some level of decorum, unlike Gary Sheffield, who conveniently provided bulletin board material with his rantings. So, to them, I obscured my delerium with platitudes: “They have to take it one game at a time.” “Schilling’s not in too much pain, so it’s possible for him to get in some innings.” “They’ll have to turn it over to Arroyo if Curt can’t continue.” “Foulke’s not your typical closer, so he can go longer than others.” But inside me roiled a maelstrom of emotions, most of which were pushing me perilously close to the land of the faithful. It’s not a place I visit often, unlike Schilling, who is one of the evangelical Chritians of that team.

A special shoe was constructed by Reebok for Schilling, customized to hold his capricious tendon in place. Schilling didn’t have enough range of movement in that hightop, however, so he submitted himself to a novel tendon-stapling surgery. Team physician Joe Morgan practiced on a cadaver before attempting the same operation on the starting right-handed pitcher. Seeing Curt Schilling on the mound with his slapdash ankle fix convinced me that there would be no way that his team would disappoint.

On October 27, 2004, my every baseball wish was fulfilled in a manner most improbable. The game that had mellowed my summers since I moved here in 1997 had finally gifted me with everything I could request. And yet, baseball was still over and I would miss it. I was struck by a pang of loss despite the title. I feared that the little details that made up the totality of the season would dissipate with time. So, this is why I chronicled the past season here.

Happy anniversary, and may there be many more memories for us all to share.

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