Game 162: October 2, 2005
Yankees (95-67), 1
Red Sox (95-67), 10
L: Jaret Wright (5-5)
W: Curt Schilling (8-8)
Tied for the lead in the division
Clinched the wild card
1 game winning streak
Congratulations to the AL East co-champion Boston Red Sox. A wild card berth might seem like a consolation prize after having led the division for so long, but it is a chance to defend the title nonetheless. Our boys relish the wild card spot and adore being cast as the underdogs.
As Boston entered the playoffs for the third time in three years I was in a plane returning from Pittsburgh to Boston. While in flight I surreptitiously checked my text messages for the automated updates I enacted just before checking out of my hotel. I heard the murmur of a new text message arrive and I see these blessed words flash on the screen: “Manny Ramirez home run. Johnny Damon scores. David Ortiz scores. Red Sox, 6-0.” Such messages came rapidly as the Red Sox closed out the season with a convincing win.
I had a superb view from my seat on the Embraer ERJ 145 jet. I was in row 3, seat A. As the plane made its approach to Logan Airport I thought there might be a chance I would be able to see Fenway Park for at least a few seconds. The familiar Boston skyline eased into my view and I picked out familiar landmarks: Zakim Bridge. Longfellow Bridge. Citgo sign. Then, finally, Fenway. The lights were still on in the park. I stared, transfixed at the vivid lights blazing through the night. Another season had passed and I felt a pang of longing as necessity dictated that I could not be in Boston for the final game.
And yet I felt as close as ever to this team. For every game this season, win or lose, healthy or sick, I wrote a post. Sometimes it was easy, clever words dancing like a Wakefield knuckleball. Other times it was as agonizing as a digging out a desultory ball out of the garage door operning in left field. This act of commemorating the season was so vital to me. After 2004 ended, I felt I had wandered into a dream. I had memories, to be sure, but I felt I had lost the minute details of how the team got there through the course of a long, toiling regular season. I decided to remedy this in 2005, and I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I did writing these past few months.
Now the real season begins, where eight teams’ mettle will be tested. The Red Sox will face the White Sox in the ALDS beginning tomorrow. This is the team that, although it faltered in September, was able to sweep its final series, something that the Red Sox were unable to do. The season series went in favor of the Red Sox, 4-3. Of course, the AL Chicago team’s World Series drought of 88 years does not get the press of their glamorous North Side neighbors. The Cubs are the Red Sox without the near misses; they seduce Chicago fans with their 97-year long wait, quaint park, and storied curse. The White Sox are the ugly stepchild of losing teams, beaten and holed away because of a long-past scandal. Is the child now grown and seeking revenge?