Friday, September 17, 2004: I’ve been giddy and worthless all day. Hearing that there might be a rainout in Yankee Stadium has me both disconsolate and apoplectic. There is no way this game can be postponed, canceled, or otherwise delayed, lest my head explode. This series is enormous, with huge implications for the Sox.

Last night things went on as I had hoped they would. The Red Sox pounded the Rays from the outset, Schilling rolled for 7 2/3 mostly unscathed, and they won in a laugher, 11-4. It was the ideal sort of game – we won the series, we saved the arms in the bullpen, the bats are swinging well, and they even gained half a game on the Yanks, who did not play last night.
Normally I reserve my Red Sox writing for this diary, but on my weblog on History News Network ( I decided to write about the upcoming series, and while some of this will be old at for followers of this diary, I figured I’d save a bit of labor and reprint it here:

Friday, September 17, 2004


This weekend the Red Sox are at what threatens to be a rainy Yankee Stadium (aka “The Toilet Bowl in the Bronx”) for a three-game series that will help settle the American League East race. But it means so, so much more than that.

Currently the Yankees have a 3.5 game cushion and the Sox are comfortably ahead in the Wild Card race, so whatever happens, both of these teams should easily make the playoffs. Nonetheless, I have been giddy all day, nay, all week, about these three games (all of which will be on national television, which is manna from heaven for this texas cowpoke).

On August 15th, the Yankees held a 10.5 game lead on the Sox. Now they can feel our breath on their necks as we close in on them. The logical parallel is with 1978, the year the Sox collapsed (though the apex of their 1978 lead came in July) and the Yanks came back. In the last week of that season the Yankees opened up a lead from which the Sox recovered to force a tie (People always forget that part) and a one-game playoff, the results of which have been lost to history, never to be recovered.

Suddenly the glove may be on the other hand. The Red Sox have been playing first-rate baseball. The Yankees have shown that their aging dynasty is more age, less dynasty. They are ever dangerous, of course, and no one in Red Sox Nation takes them lightly, but they are vulnerable.

In September of that fateful summer of 1978 the Yankees played a four-game series in Fenway in which the pinstripers pounded the Sox by an aggregate score of 42-9. It has forever been known as the “Boston Massacre,” and even as a professional historian, whenever I hear that name, I do not think of the event that helped to precipitate the Revolution by showing the lengths to which the ruthless Redcoats would go to suppress colonial intransigence, but rather it conjures up events that cause night sweats in any respectable Boston fan.

So this weekend (and next weekend, when the two teams will meet in Fenway, aka “God’s Favorite Place”) is huge. The AL East is at stake, home field in the American League playoffs is at stake, but beyond that, intrinsically, the games themselves each simply mean something, everything. My apologies to fans in other sports or of other great and storied rivalries, but this is the best, most heated, most intense rivalry in sports. It is Athens v. Sparta, USA v. USSR, Rocky v. Appollo, all rolled into one. It is the only event that matters on the calendar this weekend. It is what September baseball is all about — rivalry and joy and tension and release and glory and imagination and hope. Always hope.

Go Sox!!!!!

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