It’s going to take a lot to beat the 1991 World Series.
But this Red Sox-Tigers American League Championship Series is the best thing since.
Oh, ye who grew up in the steroid era, THIS is what baseball is about. Timely hitting. Clutch pitching. A bullpen that makes your heart leap into your throat at times.
It’s awesome, isn’t it?
The Red Sox are up 2-1 in the ALCS thanks to of all people, John Lackey, that chicken-eating, beer-swilling totem pole we had grown to loathe. That guy beat Justin Verlander in Game 3.
I mean … I don’t really know where to go with this.
In the wake of the Disney World-like nature that was Sunday evening (watch this as if you needed a reminder), it was somewhat easy, if not juvenile, to assume that Lackey would toss a game for the ages, even against the most feared postseason pitcher left in the business. When unexpected glory befalls you, it tends to stick around in a delirious fashion.
Then. It happens.
David Ortiz’s grand slam in Game 2 didn’t just win the game on Sunday night; it changed the entire perception of this series, and it has the Tigers swirling in their own heads.
Ah, maybe that’s too easy and taking too much away from the job turned in by Lackey, Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow, and … yeah, that closer guy, in a thoroughly entertaining Game 3, but the Tigers are your 2011 Vancouver Canucks right now. Lost and no way out.
The Red Sox have the same eyes the Bruins did.
Maybe it’s not exactly “kill and destroy,” but there’s a confidence level there we haven’t seen since 2004 in baseball.
Maybe not even then.
Nine years ago, it was about, “If you don’t believe in us …” and more that drove the team that broke the drought. This year? It’s more about chemistry, teamwork, and hardship, the trio of traits that many a sabermetric will insist doesn’t exist. Tell me this, if chemistry doesn’t exist, do you have a date tonight?
Ben Cherington has assembled the most-likable, dynamic Red Sox team since Kevin Millar booted Japan for the Back Bay. For all that Theo Epstein gave the Red Sox in his tenure here, let’s face it, he never, ever had the scouting eyes that his successor clearly has. Cherington was always the Watson in the front office, consistently with all the clues as Epstein’s Sherlock Holmes took the credit.
And that comes from a Theo apologist.
These games remind us why we love baseball. It’s not about “digging the long ball” but dodging it altogether. It’s about double plays in the eighth. It’s about players getting benched in Game 2 hitting the game-winning home run. It’s about your third choice for a closer nailing down the win as he had done all season.
Baseball, as if you needed to know, is awesome.
But nights like Tuesday … well, they only slam you in the head with that message don’t they?
Cherish this. It is the best ALCS you might ever see.
After all, it only happens every 22 years. Or so.