The Boston Red Sox 2004 Championship Run

It’s hard to believe it’s been a full decade since the Red Sox broke the dreaded Curse of the Bambino. Maybe two more titles in the decade made it seem as time went by quicker. I’m sure if you ask any White Sox fan, they’ll tell you it’s felt like 15 years since they last won, but for them it’s been just 9 years. The Boston Red Sox have won more World Series titles than anybody else since the turn of the Millennium, but if it wasn’t for the 2004 team, they may be going on year 97 of the curse.

St. Louis Cardinals Albert Pujols (R) exits the field as the Boston Red Sox celebrate

It was October 2003, I was certain the Red Sox were heading to the World Series for the second time in my life as they had just 5 more outs to get. Then Grady Little came out of the dugout. Pedro Stayed in. Aaron Bleepin’ Boone in the 11th inning ripped every heart out of every member of Red Sox Nation. That was it. The Red Sox might never get that close again, but when spring came, hope was renewed, and the thought of “Why Not Us?” came to Red Sox nation.

The team had a new skipper in Francona, a 2nd ace to pitcher after Pedro with Curt Schilling, and a top of the line closer with Keith Foulke. They started the season hot, then fell down to earth, and played mediocre baseball for the first half the season. The Yankees were once again running away with the division, and the Red Sox would have to fight with everything they had to get the Wild Card spot. Then Theo Epstein made the most important trade in franchise history since Babe Ruth was sold to the Yankees. He shipped star Shortstop Nomar Garciaparra off for some role players. Nobody, not even Epstein himself would realize how big of a move this was until October.

The team played great baseball over the final two months, clinching the Wild Card, and even giving the Yankees a run for their money for the division. They were in the playoffs and that’s all that mattered. First came the Angels. It was an easy 3 game sweep, with David Ortiz hitting a walk off homerun to clinch the series. The only downside to the series was Schilling injuring his ankle during a game in Anaheim, but everybody figured he’d be just fine.

The Yankees were next. This was the time for the Red Sox to get revenge for what happened the year before. And as quickly as it started, it looked to be over. Schilling was hurt, and tried to pitch. He gave up what seemed to be a 1,000 runs in 2 innings of Game 1. In Game 2 Pedro only gave up 2 runs, but the offense was M.I.A. As a Yankee fan at that time, I thought “the Yankees had this series. My concern was that the next two games were at Fenway Park.” But Game 3 came, and it was the most embarrassing thing I had ever seen from a pro sports team. 19-8. At home. In the Playoffs. Then I said to myself that the Yankees are going to the World Series.

Game 4 was on a Sunday. I remember it was a typical Sunday at the Ferreira household watching soccer, and The New England Patriots won a 30-20 game over the Seattle Seahawks (or the Seabags as Anthony Florio likes to call them).

 

At home that night, I turned the game on. For some reason I had stated that I was going to watch the entire game no matter what, because it could be the clinching game for the Yankees. I wouldn’t admit it out loud, but there was a part of me that thought if the Red Sox could win this game, something magical could happen. It’s the 9th inning and Mariano Rivera is in for the Yankees with a 1 run lead. This had to be it. The Yankees were going to another World Series. The Kevin Millar showed Patience by drawing a walk, and here came Dave Roberts to run, a guy who came in the Nomar deal. Rivera kept trying to pick him off, but on his first throw Roberts went. Posada made a great throw to 2nd, but Roberts just beat the tag. I thought he was out at first.

Then Muller tied the game with a base hit, and a few innings later Big Papi came through again, and kept the Sox alive. For some reason, I had this iffy feeling on the Yankees. I thought maybe they could choke this series. The next day, same thing. Trailing late, they tie it up, and once again Big Papi came did what Big Papi’s do best. Game 6 was filled with Drama thanks to Schillings sewn ankle, A-Rod Bitch slapping the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove, and Foulke getting out of a ninth inning jam with the potential winning run on base.

Arod bitch slap

The day of Game 7, I don’t think I ate anything. I was nervous as scenes from 2003 just kept flashing in my head. Once the game started my nerves were at a all time high, thanks to Big Papi’s homerun in the 1st, then Johnny Damon’s Grand Slam the next inning. I couldn’t believe that the Yankees collapse. Before the season started we got the biggest fish in the sea in A-Rod, and all of a sudden he was the main reason why the Yankees gave up in that series. The next day, I didn’t want to attend my college classes and have Red Sox fans shoving this lost down my throat.

The World Series began in Boston, and there was little trouble for the Red Sox except in game 1, when they allowed the Cardinals to get back into a game they shouldn’t have. After taking 2 in Boston, things were looking good for the Red Sox, but still nobody could celebrate until the 4th win was sealed. The day of game 4 I was at the hospital because I suffered a bad case of pneumonia. I remember on that night watching the game from my hospital room, I had this feeling that the Red Sox were winning the World Series.

There was no question in my mind that they were taking the Trophy to Boston that night, and they didn’t disappoint, as they scoring got off to an early start with Damon’s leadoff homerun. Derek Lowe, one of the unsung heroes of 2004 pitched another brilliant game, and when Keith Foulke came into the 9th, I felt nervous. How were Red Sox supposed to feel? This feeling was new to everybody in Red Sox nation.

As Foulke fielded Edgar Renteria’s groundball cleanly, and threw to first for the final out, a wave of relief hit everyone, and joy and excitement for Red Sox Nation ensued. Watching the team celebrate on the field, the crowds outside Kenmore Square, and even members of the military serving in Afghanistan and Iraq was something special. It was a feeling you only get once.

Since 2004, we’ve had two more World Series wins. 2013 was the year that I became a Red Sox fan after the tragic events that happened at the Boston Marathon that April. Not to mention the Boston Bruins losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in 6 games of the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals. They were all special in their own way, but nothing will ever compare to the magical run of 2004. They were just a cursed team that would never win anything, but they shocked the world, and it’s a team that people will never stop talking about.

2004 banner

 

De La Rosa Becoming Solid Piece for Red Sox

The Red Sox’ unfortunate position in the standings has afforded the team to get a look at their young, homegrown players in an effort to get a read on who can help the team aim to contend in 2015. The team got another good look in their 2-0 sweep-clinching loss to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, when Rubby De La Rosa turned in one of his strongest starts of the season. While De La Rosa’s initial line (6.2 innings, 8 hits, 2 earned runs, three walks and eight strikeouts) might not be terribly inspiring, most of the damage against him was done in the first two innings. This included a bases-loaded jam that De La Rosa was able to escape without harm and settle in to stifle the Angels offense into the seventh inning. Since his promotion earlier in the season, De La Rosa has made a strong case for himself to be in the Red Sox starting rotation at the beginning of the 2015 season.

De La Rosa is finally starting to show why he was such a highly thought-of prospect in the Los Angeles Dodgers farm system. De La Rosa spent the offseason working with former Red Sox ace Pedro Martinezon his craft, and all of his hard work has paid off to this point in 2014. De La Rosa has put up 6.69 K/9, 3.35 BB/9, with a .272 average against, 79.7% strand rate, 3.69 ERA and 4.02 xFIP in 78 innings with the big club. The strikeout numbers are down slightly from his career average (career 7.41 K/9), but otherwise that is a solid line across the board, especially for a rookie starter in the American League. Those numbers are right in line with a solid number three starter on a contending rotation.

Another encouraging sign from De La Rosa’s most recent start against the Angels (which Pedro likely had a part in developing) was his ability to make adjustments throughout the start. There was a bit of a rough patch early in the game where the Angels got some good scoring chances, but De La Rosa was able to make the adjustment and settle in through the rest of his start. He made another key adjustment in the seventh, despite not finishing the inning. While dealing with another Angels scoring threat, De La Rosa was able to ramp his fastball up to 97 mph in order to get a key strikeout and limit the threat. This ability to adapt is key to developing into a solid major league starter.

The Red Sox have wisely chosen to use the remainder of the 2014 season to evaluate their roster options for 2015, when the team plans on being competitive. To this point, De La Rosa has taken advantage of the opportunity to show the team he deserves a permanent rotation spot going forward. He has shown the plus stuff, as well as the ability to adjust mid-way through a start. These are things that prove that De La Rosa possesses the ability to improve upon his current numbers, which would be a welcome addition to an unproven pitching staff. Not much is clear for the Red Sox’ 2015 season, but it is clear that Rubby De La Rosa deserves to be in the starting rotation.