Friday, October 4, 2013

Ten years ago I witnessed the most intense sports moment of my life

Monday, October 6th, 2003.  Boston vs Oakland, ALDS Game 5.

For starters you have to keep in mind that this was the pre-2004 Red Sox, going on 85 years without winning the World Series.  The A's had taken the first two games of the series at home, but Boston battled back at Fenway.  They pulled out Game 3 in 11 innings, then rallied with two runs in the bottom of the 8th to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 victory in Game 4.  Back in Oakland for the finale, the Sox staked Pedro Martinez to a 4-1 lead in the 6th inning, but heading to the bottom of the 9th it had been trimmed to just 4-3.  Scott Williamson promptly began the inning by walking the first two batter he faced.  Enter Derek Lowe.

Just two days earlier Lowe had started Game 3, and gone 7 innings without giving up an earned run.  The first batter Lowe faced bunted the runners along, leaving men on 2nd and 3rd with only one out.  A single hit would send the Red Sox home for another long, cold, winter.

I watched this 9th inning in the back of the Wharf Pub in Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard.  I couldn't sit down.  I couldn't stand still.  I put my head down on the bar in gut-wrenching agony between pitches.  In the Cowbow Up! video Lowe and Jason Varitek say he was throwing a "front door sinker, in," something he'd done a thousand times before.  But I swear to this day that Lowe invented a new pitch that night.  He struck out Adam Melhuse looking on something that seemed like it was going to hit him in the letters, but then dropped right over the middle of the plate.  Two outs.  Chris Singleton walked to load the bases, and up to the plate stepped Terrence Long.  With the count at 1-2 Lowe recreated the same magical pitch he used to get Melhuse, Long watched it fall into Varitek's glove, and the Red Sox were headed to New York to face the Yankees in the ALCS.  

I don't remember ever watching a baseball game go on for so long where each team's fate hung in the balance with every pitch.  In my lifetime I've never seen anything else in sports quite like it.

Lowe's heroics come at the 3:00 mark of this clip:

Now if that doesn't get you pumped for the Red Sox ALDS Game 1 tonight, I don't know what does.

Sidenote: I got the idea for this blog in June of 2011.  After watching series after series of nerve wracking playoff hockey, I had a feeling that Game 7 of the Bruins vs Canucks Stanley Cup Final might top my list for intense sports moments.  Coincidentally I was again at the Wharf Pub, but the B's took away all the drama by winning 4-0. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Back to homepage