Saturday, October 18, 2008

Do you believe?

I have to admit, I reached a point where I thought this team would come up short.

There have been several things this season that I missed.

I thought the Rays would eventually spit the bit. There's nothing wrong with it - it's not unusual for a young team to crack in August or September as the pressures of being in a pennant race for the first time get the better of players that have never been there. It happens.

I wasn't the only one who thought the Rays would wilt in the heat of the race.

To Joe Maddon's credit, every time the team began to show cracks, he said or did the right thing to keep them on track. Every time he settled them down, every time he kept them winning.

This post-season we reached the point where I was positive that the Red Sox were going to be bounced. They weren't hitting - well, not timely hitting. The pitching just wasn't there. Four three and two-thirds of a game they either couldn't hold a lead, or couldn't score a run when they needed to.

The Rays - well they just seemed to be the unstoppable machine.

Suddenly, the moment seems to be getting too big for the young team. They're standing on the precipice of history, and their defense and vaunted bullpen have begun to crumble under the extreme pressure. Errant throws, their relievers fooling no one. It all added up.

The Sox got what they needed out of Beckett. James Shields turned in a solid effort, but it just wasn't quite enough. The Sox got what they needed out of David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, and Jason Varitek, all of whom accounted for the team's RBI's.

It all added up.

It added up to an evened up series with a winner-take-all game to be played on Sunday night after the Sox were seven outs away from elimination, down seven runs, down three games to one. Sunday they march into the Trop evened up at three after the second biggest post-season comeback in baseball history, and then after taking it to the Rays in their dome - after taking it to the team with the best home record in baseball this year - well, just what might they be thinking in the Tampa locker room?

The champagne was chilled and ready to be popped at the end of game five.

Now the Rays have a front row seat to what the Yankees did in 2004 and the Indians in 2007.

Do you believe?

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