MLB Regular Season Ends

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Two Years Ago Today: The Turnaround Begins

On August 16, 2004, the Red Sox were in second place in the AL East, 10 games behind the Yankees. The Red Sox had just dropped two out of three at Fenway Park to the Chicago White Sox, and three months of mediocre baseball they had been playing just seemed to be continuing.
I was in San Diego at this time, having attended the wedding of my good friends Peggy and Ken. (Happy anniversary guys!!) On this night we went to Petco Park to see the Padres play the Atlanta Braves. (Braves won 5-4 that night.) It was my last night in San Diego, as well as for my friends, as they were leaving the next morning for their honeymoon. My friends gave me the tour of the ballpark, and it is simply gorgeous. As I walked around the ballpark, I kept noticing the Red Sox-Blue Jays score on the scoreboard. I got there and the game at Fenway was in the seventh inning with the Sox leading 5-1. But then the lead started shrinking, down to 5-4, and finally it stopped. But then the Sox added three in the eighth to lock up an 8-4 win. Derek Lowe and Keith Foulke combined for the win. The game was also the night that Doug Mientkiewicz played second base, and had that minor dustup on the bases with Carlos Delgado.

I also remember that night because later in the game, I was sitting in my seat down the left field line when a guy wearing a Red Sox shirt saw me wearing my Red Sox road jersey and came up to me and we shook hands. I said to him, "Keep the faith!" He looked at me and just smiled.

So why is this game important to remember? It was the beginning of The Turnaround. Three months of stagnant baseball was finally ending. The Sox would go on to sweep Toronto, win six straight games, then lose in Toronto, and then win ten more games in a row. By September 11, they had won 22 of 25 and cut the Yankees lead to 2 1/2 games. But this was just as importantly the time they seized control of the Wild Card race. They now had a five-game lead in that race, and would never look back. And of course, we all know what happened over a month later.

(It is generally assumed that July 24th, the day the Sox beat the Yankees on Bill Mueller's ninth inning homer and Jason Varitek showed Alex Rodriguez who's boss, is the day the Sox fortunes began to improve dramatically. Actually, they continued to struggle for another three weeks, playing .500 ball until August 16. July 24th's win is more a symbolic turnabout than a factual one.)

August 16th maybe better known for being the day that both Babe Ruth and Elvis Presley died, but it will live in Red Sox history as the start of the most memorable time in Red Sox history.

It's time for the boys from Boston to get their act together and make another run to a pennant. It's still not too late, but the clock is ticking.

P.S. In a strangely ghoulish note, The Babe (1948) and Elvis (1977) died 29 years apart, and today marks 29 years since Elvis' death. Does that mean another legendary icon will die today? We'll see....

7 comments:

Michael Leggett said...

Bruno Kirby, from The Godfather II movie, died yesterday @ 57.

Michael Leggett said...

& The New "Toilet" in The Bronx, had its' Ground-Breaking Ceremony, today.

WelshSoxFan said...

should I assume you wil be in Thoms tonight to watch the turnaround take place?

The Omnipotent Q said...

You assumed correct, sir!

Julie said...

good memories from '04 :)
they never get old!
we can definately do it again. go on a winning tear. sweep the yankees. i have a really good feeling about the next few weeks.
-julie

Peter N said...

I am with Julie.....hope from the heart. Hope from the heart? That is called FAITH.

The Omnipotent Q said...

Peter and Julie, I love your optimism, and I hope you're both right...