... in the fourth inning of Game Three, my faith was miraculously restored. A 10 to 0 lead will do that; it has divine spiritual powers.
Listen, my children, I'll tell you the reason
The Red Sox won all those ballgames this season.
They fulfilled our dreams, they answered our prayers
Because they have got some pretty good players.
They've got J.D. Martinez, plus Mookie Betts,
Bogaerts and Benny, as good as it gets.
Chris Sale is pitching every fifth night.
Porcello is mellow, Eovaldi's all right.
Jackie will catch everything hit his way,
The bullpen will save the game and the day.
Brock Holt's the best substitute in the land.
Our own Alex Cora is leading the band.
If they continue to prove they're the best,
The playoffs could be an Octoberfest.
And when that World Series flag is unfurled,
It will say, "Boston Red Sox, the Champs of the World!"
I plead guilty.
I did it, I take full responsibility for my actions, and I'm sorry. Really sorry.
My sin is that I temporarily lost my faith in the 2018 Boston Red Sox. After the first two games of the ALDS series against the New York Yankees the two teams were even at one win apiece, but to me it felt like the Sox were down two games to none. After getting off to a hot start in the first game they barely hung on to win against their hard-charging nemeses. We all held our breaths as the bullpen staggered through the final innings. It didn't feel at all like a victory. Not even a little bit. In the second game the Yankees quickly disposed of David Price, our $217 million man, and won in a walk. We were headed to New York all tied up, but I was in the depths of despair. We were going into the belly of the beast, Yankee Stadium.
Everyone has his or her faith shaken at times, but to deny that faith is another matter. That, I'm afraid, is what I did. In my heart of hearts I conceded the series. I had lost all hope.
Confession is cleansing for the soul, and mine needs a good old-fashioned scrubbing.
I confess that I prepared a column on what I fully expected to be an ignominious defeat at the hands of the Evil Empire. I looked up Bart Giamatti's famous quote -- you know, the one about baseball breaking our hearts? That one -- and I wrote the essentials of a majestically funereal piece on the end of the Red Sox season. The only thing it lacked was the rueful details of the final loss, which I would fill in as they unfolded.
Then, in the fourth inning of Game Three, my faith was miraculously restored. A 10 to 0 lead will do that; it has divine spiritual powers. I was back in my pew (or was it my couch?) in the Church of the Holy Pastime. I said a prayer of thanksgiving to St. Abner Doubleday, the patron saint of all things baseball. I continued praying as the born-again Red Sox increased their lead to 16 to one and as the immortal Nate Eovaldi and the much maligned bullpen dispatched the mighty Yankees with the authority of a firing squad.
I continued my prayerful posture as Game Four unfolded and the Sox jumped into an early lead. Rick Porcello was every bit the sharpshooter that Eovaldi had been. I increased the fervency of my prayers to St. Abner when the bullpen took over for the final four innings with the good guys ahead, four to one. I even promised the good saint that I would never think another negative thought about the Red Sox for as long as I lived if only he would only guide us through the next few innings. Matt Barnes threw a perfect sixth inning, and Ryan Brasier did the same in the seventh. Then Chris Sale, known to the faithful as Christopher the Great, came on in the eighth and mowed them down in order.
We came down to the last of the ninth. The closer, Craig Kimbrel, was warmed up in the bullpen. We had a four to one lead. What could possibly go wrong?
I decided to wriggle out of my vow never to think another negative thought about the Red Sox. You never know when one might come in handy; you know what I'm saying? I sent a message to St. Abner, "Take the rest of the night off. I'll take over from here."
Kimbrel came into the game, yanking many of his pitches to the left. He promptly walked Aaron Judge, and Didi Gregorius hit a sharp single to right. Then Giancarlo Stanton, he with the contract even heftier than that of David Price, struck out and looked awful doing so. One down. But Kimbrel was quickly back on his game; he walked Luke Voit on four pitches, loading the bases. I looked around desperately for help, but St. Abner, like Elvis, had left the building. Then Kimbrel yanked another one, hitting Neil Walker on the foot and forcing in a run. Red Sox -- four, Yankees -- two, bases still loaded. I began gasping for breath. Then Sanchez hit a long fly to left which was caught by Benintendi, but Gregorius scored easily from third. Two away, but it was now four to three. Only my laundryman knew how nervous I was. Torres then topped a soft grounder to the left of the mound, Eduardo Nunez raced in from third, scooped it up and threw off balance to first, wide of the bag. But Steve Pearce somehow kept his foot in contact and grabbed it a millisecond before Torres' foot reached the base.
It was over! We'd done it! Had 'em all the way! Bedlam in the Church of the Holy Pastime! We live to fight another day! And I have no intention of keeping my promise to St. Abner.
See you in church.
Dick Flavin is a New York Times bestselling author; the Boston Red Sox “Poet Laureate” and The Pilot’s recently minted Sports’ columnist.
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