Monday is Opening Day 2006, a high holy day among Red Sox faithful. The fields are green, the teams all even, and no Sox fan is ready to jump off the Tobin Bridge . . . yet.
Still, diehards know the upcoming 162-game ride will have its predictable ups and downs. Blown saves and nagging injuries will compete with the walk-off homers and comeback wins. Trades? Tirades? Escapades? Count on them, too. To smooth the ride, clip and save this 2006 Red Sox Deja Vu All Over Again Calendar.
4/5 Texas wins the rubber game of the season-opening series on back-to-back homers off closer Keith Foulke, triggering an avalanche of anti-Foulke e-mails that crashes the server on sonsofsamhorn.com.
4/11 At the home opener, Sox CEO Larry Lucchino throws out the first lottery ticket. David Ortiz homers twice in a 9-7 win while Foulke earns his third straight save, a standing O, and a two-year contract extension from GM Theo Epstein.
5/1 With Manny Ramirez taking a potty break inside the Green Monster, Johnny Damon (below) hits a bases-loaded pop fly to left field, driving in three runs that lift the Yankees into first place. Six callers to the WEEI ''Whiner Line" are treated for post-traumatic stress disorder after a 911 dispatcher intercepts their cellphone signals. Ramirez requests a trade to the Padres.
5/25 A frustrated David Wells (1-3) flies to Havana and defects to the Cuban national team. Upon failing a mandatory body-fat test, Wells returns to Boston and pitches seven shutout innings to beat the Devil Rays.
6/5 Trot Nixon (above) lands on the 60-day disabled list with back spasms. His outfield replacement inks a deal (with coauthor Stephen King) to write an autobiography titled ''Whiff! The Wily Mo Pena Story."
6/17 Braves shortstop Edgar Renteria goes 5-for-8 with 6 RBI and turns two key double plays as Atlanta edges Boston in 15 innings. ESPN analyst Peter Gammons blames the off-season trade of Renteria on some Sox official nobody's heard of.
6/28 At Fenway, Mets hurler Pedro Martinez loses a no-hitter -- and the game -- on a walk-off, two-run homer by Mike Lowell, his first of the season. Curt Schilling signs a NESN deal to star in a ''Curt in the Car" reality show.
7/11 With Boston in third place at midseason, Tim Wakefield (11-1, 2.55 ERA) starts for the American League All-Stars but loses MVP honors to teammate Ramirez (2-for-3, 2 HR). After the game, Manny seeks asylum in the National League dugout but is physically blocked by baseball commissioner Bud Selig.
7/31 At the trading deadline, Boston acquires Roger Clemens from the Texas Rangers for Jonathan Papelbon and Manny's unsold condo at the Ritz-Carlton. The Sox go on an eight-game winning streak to creep within two games of AL East co-leaders New York and Toronto.
8/13 Nixon returns and goes 4-for-5 to lead the Sox over the Orioles. The game is marred by an ugly brawl sparked by reliever Julian Tavares punching out Miguel Tejada at home plate. Facing his third suspension of '06, Tavares is released and quickly signs with the Yankees.
9/1 Josh Beckett (below) pitches a one-hitter against Toronto, after which gubernatorial candidate Tom Reilly taps Beckett as his running mate. Beckett demurs, pointing out he's not a Massachusetts resident. The Sox move into a second-place tie with the Blue Jays.
9/17 At Yankee Stadium, Clemens wins 1-0 when Tavares gives up a homer to Lowell (his second of the season) in late-inning relief. The Sox take a one-game lead over New York. Later, George Steinbrenner punches out Tavares in the Yankee dugout.
10/1 The Sox lose to Baltimore when Ramirez, after hitting a pair of titanic home runs, fails to run out a pop fly that falls safely with the tying and winning runs aboard. Toronto beats New York, creating a three-way tie in the AL East. Playoff ''scratch" tickets go on sale through the Mass. State Lottery as Sox Nation girds itself for another postseason ride.
JOSEPH P. KAHN
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