October 15, 2013
A Golden Day In Local Sports History
BY: Bob George/BosSports.net
Tom Brady. David Ortiz. Two of the biggest icons in area sports history. Clearly the franchise figureheads of the Patriots and Red Sox.
When one has it going on, it's special. But when both have it going on?
You have days like Sunday.
Two titanic games, two titanic wins, two titanic finishes. One game seemed like a Super Bowl, the other game saved a season. Both games featured garrison finishes and scintillating comebacks. Both games featured Brady being Brady and Papi being Papi. One game left you thinking that it was Super Bowl XXXVI or XXXVIII, the other game felt like Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.
Neither game had as much riding on them like those aforementioned games. But it sure felt that way.
Brady hit Kenbrell Thompkins with a 17-yard touchdown pass with five seconds left to give the Patriots a 30-27 win over the New Orleans Saints, a possible Super Bowl opponent. Brady was given three chances at a walkoff win by the Saints defense, and on his third attempt, waved his magic wand and gave his team the win after half the stadium headed for the exits a few minutes earlier.
Then several hours later, the Red Sox were being no-hit after five innings for the second straight night, and in danger of going down 2-0 to the Detroit Tigers. It was 5-0 Tigers in the bottom of the sixth when the Sox finally got a hit off Max Scherzer, then their first run of the series. Trailing 5-1 in the bottom of the eighth, Papi came up with the bases loaded and two out. With Detroit's closer, Joaquin Benoit in the game, Ortiz swung at the first pitch and lined it into the Sox bullpen to tie the game. If you're old enough to remember Bernie Carbo, you had to be reminded of 38 years ago.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove in the game winning run in the bottom of the ninth. The last Boston catcher to get a walkoff hit in a postseason game at Fenway? Oh, yeah, someone named Pudge.
So there you have it. Connections to Carbo and Carlton Fisk. Thus the comparison to Game 6.
Add to the fact that both these games happened on the same day, and you have a golden day.
This sort of thing is hard to replicate. Name another such day where two great moments like these happened on the same day.
The closest thing, and this pales in comparison, is back in 2007 when on the same day, the Red Sox acquired Eric Gagne and the Celtics acquired Kevin Garnett. Both the Red Sox and Celtics would win championships the next time around, but Gagne had next to nothing to do with the last Red Sox World Series win. The opposite was true for KG.
There was that crazy week earlier this year where, in the span of seven days, the Bruins lost the Stanley Cup Finals, the Celtics lost Doc Rivers, and Aaron Hernandez was busted for murder. But that was over a week, not in one day. And all these events were adverse, not positive.
In 2011, the Bruins won their last Stanley Cup. Few fans remember that, also that night, Josh Beckett came within a second-inning single of pitching the first perfect game for the Red Sox since Cy Young last did it in 1904. He settled for a one-hitter and a win over Tampa Bay while Zdeno Chara was skating the Stanley Cup around the Rogers Centre in Vancouver.
New England has transformed into a football area in the last decade or so. That is remarkable considering that the Red Sox are 60 years older than the Patriots. But the Patriots dominated news coverage during the month of September despite the Sox being in a pennant race. The Red Sox wound up winning the division, getting the best record in the AL, yet all you hear about is the Rob Gronkowski soap opera and Brady snapping on his new receivers down in Foxborough.
What Ortiz has done is put the Red Sox back on the marquee. Given the still lingering stench from last season's stinker under Bobby Valentine, and the season before where a large division lead in late August went down the tubes amidst a hail of fried chicken, beer and Kevin Fowler, seeing the Red Sox now three wins away from the World Series is nothing short of stupefying. Given also how poorly the Sox started in this ALCS, nearly getting no-hit in both games, getting only one ninth-inning single in Game 1 and getting their first hit in the sixth inning of Game 2, seeing the Red Sox rally in the way they did is both uplifting and endearing. It made this game an instant classic, and this game now ranks among the finest of all postseason games in Fenway history.
Coupled with the Patriots win, both games form arguably the best tandem of sports games on the same day in area history. For a double dose of hysteria, insanity and just plain incredibility, these games had it all. The top two teams in the area pull off impossible wins, led by their iconic leaders in each case. There may have never been another day like Sunday.
The euphoria garnered from this double feature may be short lived, as the Red Sox resume their series on Tuesday night at Comerica Park in Detroit facing Justin Verlander, the best righthander in the American League and who blistered the Oakland A's in the Divisional round. John Lackey will go for the Sox, who pitches better at Fenway but will benefit by the deep outfield at Comerica Park in case he gives up a ton of fly balls. The Patriots head for the Meadowlands for another grudge match with the Jets, and it would be a hideous upset if the Jets were to knock off the Patriots.
But the memories of both games will last more than a little while. If the Red Sox do make it to the World Series, the memory of Game 2 will last even longer. The Sox pulled off a great rally at Fenway in Game 5 of the 2008 ALCS against Tampa Bay, but that game is largely forgotten because the Sox lost that series in seven games.
Still, Sunday night will be hard to top. Brady. Papi. Super win. Another super win.
The good times keep rolling in Boston and New England. The golden era continues.
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