So with it being the 10 year anniversary (10 years?! holy shit) of the ’04 Sox and with there just being a reunion of the ’04 team at Fenway, it’s had me feeling nostalgic about my favorite team of all time. So I figured I’d blog about them.
If you were to ask me what Red Sox team I had the most fun watching from the beginning of the season to the end of the season, I wouldn’t say 2004. I’d probably say 2013. The 2013 regular season was filled with memorable moments and insane comebacks and then they capped it off with an exciting playoff run and a World Series. The 2004 regular season wasn’t anything amazing. They were a really good team that won 98 games but outside of a game involving Jason Varitek telling A-Rod “We don’t throw at .240 hitters” (I know everyone involved says he didn’t actually say that but I’ve decided to believe it’s true), there wasn’t anything particularly amazing about the ’04 Sox regular season.
And it didn’t appear that there was going to be anything out of the ordinary about the ’04 playoff team either. They swept the Angels in the ALDS (ending game 3 on a Papi walk off which ended up being like the 4th biggest hit he’s have in the ’04 playoffs), went down 2-0 to the Yankees. Got their asses handed to them in humiliating fashion, losing 19-8 and being down 3-0. No baseball team had EVER came back from down 3-0 to win a series, and now not only did the Red Sox have to do it, but the team that had not won a World Series in 86 years and that was playing the team that had spent the last 86 years taking a big shit on their faces at every turn, but they had to do it with Mariano Rivera (he of the .70 career playoff ERA… .70!!!) protecting a 4-3 lead in the 9th inning in game 4.
But that’s when it went from being just another Red Sox playoff kick in the balls to the greatest sports story ever told. (Yes its the greatest sports story ever told. There was a meeting about it and everything. The meeting involved me sitting on my porch right now deciding it was).
I’m just gonna go through the key players in the greatest 8 game run in the history of pro sports and talk about why they were awesome. Sound good? Good.
The Big Papi section of this is basically just like those Chris Farley show sketches from SNL back in the day.
“Hey David, remember that time you hit the walk off home run to give the Red Sox a win in game 4?”
“And that time you hit the home run in the 8th inning of game 5 to bring the Sox within 1?”
“And that time you hit the walkoff single in the 14th to give the Sox the win in game 5?”
“And that time you hit a home run in the 1st inning of game 7 to give the Sox a 2-0 lead and erase the decision of the Sox mentally deficient 3rd base coach to moronically send Johnny Damon home when he was obviously going to be out from everybody’s mind?”
“That was awesome.”
I will never stop loving Johnny Damon for hitting that grand slam. Never ever ever ever ever. I don’t care that he signed with the Yankees later on. Do. Not. Care. I have never been and will never again be so nervous for a sporting event and for Damon to put the Sox up 6-0 in the 2nd inning and allow everyone to (somewhat) breathe was just wonderful. I mean don’t get me wrong I still felt like I was gonna vomit. I just felt LESS like I was going to vomit. Come to think of it’s amazing I didn’t end up covered in vomit at any point in these 8 games.
Then he hits a bomb in the 4th to give the Sox even more breathing room.
His 1st at bat home run in game 4 of the World Series wasn’t too shabby either.
Johnny Damon is and always will be the man. I don’t care what anyone else says.
Keith Foulke was lights the fuck out in the ALCS and even better in the World Series (I thought he should have been MVP instead of Manny but whatever).
2.2 scoreless innings in Game 4 of the ALCS, followed by 1.1 in Game 5 the next day, followed by 1 more scoreless inning in game 6 the day after.
Followed that up with 5 innings of 1 run ball in the World Series, including the final out. All told it was 14 innings of 1 run ball in the 2004 playoffs.
The one at bat that is in my head forever is the last out of Game 6 of the ALCS. He was clearly gassed having pitched 6 innings in 3 days (way more than a closer usually pitches) and let 2 guys get on base with 2 outs and a 2 run lead. Tony Fucking Clark (a former Red Sox who SUCKED when he was on the Red Sox)was up as the winning run. I can’t even tell you how sure I was that Tony Clark was going to hit a 3 run walk off HR to the short porch in Yankee Stadium. It would be the most Red Sox thing ever. Down 3-0 in the series to the Yankees, win 2 in a row in dramatic fashion, get a lead in game 6 in Yankee Stadium and a scrub who used to play for the Sox hits a game winning 3 run HR off the Sox lights out closer. I was POSITIVE this was going to happen.
Instead Foulke struck the motherfucker out and we were on to game 7. That, in all honestly may have been the happiest moment of my life to that point. Hell, it still might be.
Curt Schilling pitched 7 innings of 1 run ball in the highest pressure situation you could possible imagine. He said before the series that he couldn’t imagine a better feeling then making 55,000 people from New York shut up and then followed that up by getting knocked around in game 1. He was brought to Boston for the sole purpose of winning a World Series, ran his mouth, got rocked in game 1 and now had a chance to make up for it back in Yankee Stadium and he fucking did it.
Oh and by the way, he did it with ligaments in his ankle sutured together and looking like this:
Followed that up with 6 innings of 1 run ball in game 2 of the World Series.
Get well soon, Curt.
Marvelous Mark Bellhorn
Fun fact about me. If there is a baseball player who strikes out a ton and has a low batting average but also draw walks, hits with some pop and has a high OBP, I’m going to like him more than 99% of people will. People loved shitting on Mark Bellhorn because he looked like a he just woke up from being passed out from a 2 week bender before every game and struck out a lot. I liked Mark Bellhorn because he looked like a he just woke up from being passed out from a 2 week bender before every game and drew a won of walks.
Pop quiz: Who had the highest OBP amongst AL 2bs in 2004? Marvelous Mark Bellhorn
He struggled mightily in the playoffs, leading fans to want him replaced with Pokey Reese.
Then he hit the deciding HR in the Schilling Bloody Sock Game.
Then he hit the deciding HR in Game 1 of the World Series.
Long live Marvelous Mark Bellhorn.
Wakefield was supposed to start Game 4, but famously went to Francona during the GAme 3 massacre and said he’d pitch out of the pen that game instead to save him from having to waste the relievers in a blowout. He got his ass kicked, but it didn’t matter. It was a game they were gonna lose and he ate up 3.1 innings (which turned out to be HUGE given how much the pen would be relied on in games 4 and 5).
He also pitched 3 of the most horrifying innings I have ever watched in Game 5. Not because he was bad, because he was brilliant (he shut the Yankees out in the 12th, 13th and 14th innings) but because Jason Varitek CAN’T CATCH KNUCKLEBALLS. The box score says Tek had 3 passed balls, but it felt like 30. As if we needed that added stress.
“Hey guys in case you already aren’t sitting in a pile of your own filth watching your team that hasn’t won a World Series in 86 years attempt to win Game 5 when down 3-1 against their most hated opponent in extra innings…HERE IS A CATCHER THAT CANNOT CATCH THE ONLY PITCH YOUR PITCHER THROWS.”
Speaking of Tek, in Game 5 with the Sox down 4-3 in the bottom of the 8th, he hit a game tying sac-fly off of Mariano Rivera. A sac fly isn’t exactly the most exciting thing in the history of the world, but it’s still tying the game off of the greatest closer of all time with 5 outs left until you’re eliminated.
Are words really needed for Dave Roberts?
That was SO fucking close you guys. I thought he was out at the time. I still think they might switch it up and call him out when I watch replays of it to this day. An inch away from the whole comeback not happening.
Drew the walk in the bottom of the 9th in game 4 and was pinch ran for by Roberts to set the stage for the steal above. Like Tek’s sac fly, a walk isn’t the most riveting thing in the world, but you get on base against Mo any way you can (especially to lead off an inning when you have 3 outs left in your season if you don’t score).
We covered the guy who drew the walk to get the base runner in the 9th in game 4, and the guy who stole the base, now here is the guy who knocked in the run. Kind of a big deal.
Bill Mueller was so fucking solid. Loved that dude. .303/.378/.474 in his 3 years with the Sox.
Also remember the regular season game I mentioned above where Tek and A-Rod brawled? You remember how that one ended?
I still remember dancing around my living room like an idiot after he did that.
Billy Mueller: Yankee Kueller.
2004 was definitely at the tail end of Pedro’s career and he was far from the dominant pitcher he was. He pitched Game 5 of the ALCS, but didn’t do very well and was fantastic (7 shutout innings) in game 3 of the World Series (his last ever game as a Red Sox). I’m mainly just happy Pedro was still here when they won it all in 04. Pedro in his prime is the greatest pitcher I have ever seen and it sucked that a lot of it was for not very good Red Sox teams. He and Nomar were the only real bright spots of the team for years. It sucke that Nomar couldn’t be here when the Sox won, so I’m thrilled that Pedro was.
It’s kinda funny, Manny was the World Series MVP in 2004, but I really can’t remember one memorable moment he had throughout the comeback vs the Yankees or the sweep in the World Series. He certainly wasn’t bad in the World Series (7/17 with a HR), I just can’t remember a specific moment. Anyway, I felt like I kinda had to give him a mention since he won MVP (even if I thought it should’ve been Foulke).
You’re damn right Curtis Leskanic gets a mention! You know why? You know how I said Tim Wakefield’s 3 innings were just 3 OF the most horrifying innings I have ever watched? Because the MOST horrifying innings I have ever watched were Leskanic pitching in extra innings of a time game in Game 4. He had gotten rocked the day before, wasn’t all that good at that point in his career and was at the very, very, VERY end of his career (LITERALLY the end…his 1.1 innings in game 4 were the last innings he’d EVER pitch). Yet here he was in a tie game.
I can’t find video of it online, but during the ring ceremony on opening day the next year, Johnny Pesky was greeting all of the players one by one. When he got to Leskanic, he stopped and yelled “Leskanic, you son of a bitch!” and they both laughed. I have no idea why he did that but it may have been my favorite part of the ceremony.
Hard to find a guy with a more up and down Sox career than Derek Lowe. He bounced from All-Star starter to terrible starter and from All-Star closer to terrible closer. He was bad in the regular season (5.42 ERA) and got bounced from the post season rotation….
…and then managed to win all 3 deciding games of the 2004 playoffs. Won vs Anaheim out of the bullpen, beat the Yankees in Game 7 (6 innings of 1 run ball on 2 days rest) and then shut the Cards out for 7 innings to win the World Series.
Alan Embree/Mike Timlin
These dudes pitched like EVERY game of the comeback and World Series.
ALCS: Timlin and Embree in Game 4, Timlin and Embree in Game 5, Timlin and Embree in Game 7.
World Series: Timlin and Embree in Game 1, Timlin and Embree in Game 2, Timlin in Game 3, Embree in Game 4.
So much Timlin. So much Embree.
Orlando Cabrera/Doug Mientkiewicz
I’ll never forget hearing that Nomar got traded, hearing it was for Cabrera and Mientkiewicz and then just being like “ok, cool what else did they get?”
“No seriously, what else did they get?”
Turned out they didn’t get ANYTHING else and that turned out to be just fine. Cabrera hit .294/.320/.465 for the Sox with fantastic D at short, while Man-Cave-Itch made for a phenomenal late inning defensive replacement at short for Millar. It still bums me out that Nomar wasn’t on the team when they finally won, but the trade was for the best.
That about sums up the main players. Also, the wonderful Trot Nixon was playing right. The wonderful looking Gabe Kapler (wait what?) was there to fill in in the outfield. The wonderful fielding Pokey Reese was around to fill in for Mark Bellhorn on D. The wonderful Kevin Youkilis was on the bench and did not play an inning. The wonderful Mike Myers was in the pen to get a lefty out and immediately leave the game before facing a righty. The wonderful Bronson Arroyo was there to be a white dude with cornrows, get the ball slapped out of his hand by A-Rod to give everyone ANOTHER reason to hate A-Rod and melt hearts with his acoustic guitar. Everyone was wonderful.
My favorite team of all time. 2013 may have been better from start to finish, but the finish of 2004 makes them impossible to top. Never again would we have to hear another 1918 reference. Never again would we have to hear another Curse of the Bambino reference. And if we did it just didn’t matter anymore. I’ve never been more depressed about the result of a game than I was when Aaron Boone beat the Sox in ’03. I was upset for weeks. If it’s possible for something to physically crush your soul, that crushed mine. Then a year later it gets erased to the point where I can watch the Boone HR without wanted to immediately jump off the nearest ledge because I know what came next year. The Sox not only won a World Series, not only beat the Yankees to do it, but they pulled off the greatest comeback in the history of baseball to do it. They are the Bret Hart of Boston sports teams. The best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be.