Tuesday, September 20, 2011

2004 ALCS: Destiny Realized

How They Got Here
So much has been written about the 2004 ALCS that there isn't much point to add to the narrative. The history of the series started, of course, in 1919, when the Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. Since that time, the Red Sox had been suffering from the curse of the Bambino, which would rear its head at the most inopportune time. The previous year was one of the worst, as Aaron Boone's 11th inning home run beat the Red Sox in Game 7 of the ALCS.

While 2004 was a new year, it looked like the same old story, as the Yankees won the first three games of the ALCS and had the lead entering the ninth inning of Game 4. But then Dave Roberts stole second and David Ortiz homered. Ortiz hit the walkoff single the next night. Curt Schilling won in Game 6. The Red Sox had inexplicably, unbelievably tied the series, becoming the first baseball team to force a Game 7 after being down 3-0.

The Game
After a heart pounding comeback, a lot of people might have expected another Game 7 classic, one that rivaled the previous year's game. What they got was a bloodbath. David Ortiz hit a two-run home run in the first, Johnny Damon hit a grand slam in the second, and the Red Sox knocked overmatched starter Kevin Brown out of the box after just an inning and a third. It was over quickly, but really, it was over long before that. In fact, it just might be that the 2004 ALCS was over in Game 4, when Dave Roberts stole second base, or in Game 5, when David Ortiz got a walk-off hit for the second straight game. Whatever. Game 7 was pure anticlimax, one that was not befitting the quality of the series. This rivalry deserved so much more.

After eliminating the Yankees, the Red Sox were faced with story after story about the possibility of ending the streak. The stories were so overwhelming that most people seemed to ignore that the Cardinals, Boston's opponent in that World Series, was actually a very good team. But it didn't matter. Boston ignored talk of the streak and largely ignored the Cardinals, sweeping the National League champions in four to win their first title since 1918.

The Rundown
What I'm doing.

The list so far:
22. 2004 ALCS: Boston 10, New York 3
23. 1986 ALCS: Boston 8, California 1
24: 1996 NLCS: Atlanta 15, St. Louis 0

Still to come:
1972 NLCS: Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh
1972 ALCS: Detroit vs. Oakland
1973 NLCS: Cincinnati vs. New York
1973 ALCS: Baltimore vs. Oakland
1976 ALCS: Kansas City vs. New York
1977 ALCS: Kansas City vs. New York
1980 NLCS: Houston vs. Philadelphia
1981 NCLS: Los Angeles vs. Montreal
1982 ALCS: California vs. Milwaukee
1984 NLCS: Chicago vs. San Diego
1985 ALCS: Kansas City vs. Toronto
1987 NLCS: St. Louis vs. San Francisco
1988 NLCS: Los Angeles vs. New York
1991 NLCS: Atlanta vs. Pittsburgh
1992 NLCS: Atlanta vs. Pittsburgh
2003 NLCS: Chicago vs. Florida
2003 ALCS: Boston vs. New York
2004 NLCS: Houston vs. St. Louis
2006 NLCS: New York vs. St. Louis
2007 ALCS: Boston vs. Cleveland
2008 ALCS: Boston vs. Tampa Bay

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