by Mark Lawrence, International Editor
Sydney, Australia. Right now, every citizen of Red Sox Nation must be wondering the same thing: Can we pull it out one more time? Can the Red Sox conceivably win the last three games of this so far bloody awful ALDS? Can we make history once again? And where’s Kevin Millar when we need him?
Frankly, if the team’s performance doesn’t improve - but fast - the answer has to be No. And after the first two ALDS games, it’s confirmed: the law of averages has finally caught up with the Red Sox – that eleven game winning streak had to give out sometime - and the timing was just lousy. As we know, The Streak gave way to a Bronx Sweep and a lousy one-outta-three with the Jays – you could almost see the car driving off the cliff, the way the performance level plummeted, as we headed into the Post Season. Could we really expect October fireworks from a team that struggled to win one game out of their last six of the regular season? You want my honest answer? No, probably not.
We watched a team in Game 2 that – inexplicably - seemed to be playing their worst baseball of the year. Reaching for lemons, as Malamud wrote. Swing-and-a-missing and helping out a pitcher who needed very little help at all, holding the Sox to a lousy three hits.
But if the ingrained optimism of Red Sox Nation is any indicator, there is still a chance. A slender chance, admittedly, but a chance nonetheless. Hell, it’s baseball, and as I’ve said many times before - anything can happen. That’s why we watch. That’s why we inch forward onto the edges of our seats as the bottom of the ninth looms and the game is on the line.
On Sunday afternoon, the Nation needs to see this team with its fangs all the way out, playing the game like they mean it. We need to see the boys playing like All-Stars. Playing like MVPs. Playing like World Series Champions. Because if they go down in three, they will need to have shown us that they did their very best. But it’s not over yet – there is no reason why the series can’t be tied up, two a piece, by late next Monday night. And then after that – well, who can say? After all, it has happened before, hasn’t it?
Of course, this writer is no longer naïve enough to expect that miraculous comeback to transpire – that’d be asking too much. But I’ll tell you what I do expect, scratch that, demand from this team – take it to Game Five. They owe it to the fans and – more importantly – they owe it to themselves. And if they have to go out – they have to go out fighting. So, let’s get a little Jack Daniels in the dugout, relax a little bit and Cowboy Up one more time.