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Legends of the Fall: Part III of V

The A’s had fallen, tortuously, in the playoffs once again. The defeat offered zero consolation. There were no moral victories.

In their shattered clubhouse, Billy Beane lost it, railing about the payroll disparity separating the two teams.

But on the field, they had been so close.

So close…

As the Red Sox raucously celebrated that night, ready to challenge the New York Yankees, ready to spit in the face of history, one lingering, exhausting thought couldn’t have been far from their minds.

 They had survived.
 
 Cowboy up.

 The rallying cry became a symbol, for the pride and perseverance that lifted the Red Sox through an arduous regular season, and from the abyss against Oakland.  

 It was an old rodeo term, an ode to fortitude, dedicated to those who could climb back on the saddle after being thrown off.

  Encased within the phrase was the reason why these Red Sox felt impervious to ghosts of their franchise’s past.    

 They were different.

/

 Now they would receive the ultimate test, a Yankee team that had regained its postseason swagger.

 New York would hand the ball to Mike Mussina in Game 1. Mussina, a creature of habit, would need to find his rhythm after a long layoff between starts.

 Mussina was almost a figure from central casting, born to be an ace. He combined a superior intellect with obscene talent. At the peak of his ability, he could befuddle or overpower a hitter with equal impunity.

 Educated at Stanford University, Mussina graduated in 3 ½ years with a degree in Economics. He was drafted in the first round by the Baltimore Orioles, and flew through their minor league system, ultimately debuting in 1991.

 Mussina announced his stardom in 1992, winning 18 games with a sparkling 2.54 earned run average.

 He would continue to shine through the nineties, the O’s unquestioned ace. After a dry farm system failed to replenish an aging core, the Orioles franchise became a vacant shell.

  Mussina would escape after the 2000 season, signing with the New York Yankees, where he felt most wanted.

  The right-hander would agree to a six-season commitment, for the price of 88.5 million.

At the time, it was perceived the Yankees had negotiated a slight bargain.

 Mike’s demure attitude was a questionable fit in the big city, but his talent easily suppressed any concern of chemistry.

 Mussina didn’t forcefully unleash his arsenal. He was a composer, different grips for alternating instruments. When he was right, his curveballs broke and his fastballs blistered, each to the sixteenth inch of home plate.  

 But there were instances where Mussina would unravel, almost spontaneously. The slightest variable damaging a set routine could spell doom for his performance.

 And this is precisely what the Yankees feared as Mussina prepared for Game One of the A.L.C.S., having not thrown a pitch since September 30th against the Twins.  

 Mussina had been hammered by Arizona after a similar situation arose in Game One of the 2001 World Series.    

  Against the Red Sox lineup, the Yankees’ artful ace would need to be at his best.

/

 Boston countered with Tim Wakefield in Game One, a pitcher whose career course was the reverse of a thoroughbred such as Mike Mussina.

 Wakefield’s career sagged in the low minors, as coaches told the corner infielder he simply didn’t have the talent to advance beyond the bushes.

 Instead of submitting to this harsh reality, Wakefield refused to fold. For him to circumvent the circumstances blocking his dream, the Melbourne, Florida native would need to master a devastating slight of hand.

 Wakefield placed his fate in the knuckleball. The pitch is deeply intertwined with chance, demanding a special competitor to exploit its intricacies. When thrown correctly, it kills the rotation on a baseball’s seams, allowing the ball to dance and dive erratically.      

 Knuckle ball pitchers are rare, a true dying breed. They perform with full knowledge that their delicate hold on the unknown could vanish in an instant. Pitchers such as Mike Mussina rely on equal parts cunning and ability, knuckleball specialists such as Tim Wakefield wind-up and deliver, leaving the rest to dead seams.

 Which, of course, isn’t to discount Wakefield’s accountability, his role in allowing the pitch to fulfill an aimless course. His mechanics needed to be perfect, lest the pitch became a dead fish hanging over the plate, illusion nullified. Wakefield even snuck in an occasional 70 MPH fastball, just to keep the hitters honest.

 He’d experienced triumph and heartache in his career, living a fantasy in ’92, arriving in the Major Leagues in the heat of a pennant race, turning savior with an 8-1 record, winning twice in the NLCS. Wakefield’s dream would evaporate, as he lost control of the fickle knuckleball, ending his tenure with the Pirates, his glory deemed a flash in the pan. After a full year out of the game, wasting away in the Pirate farm system, lost, the Red Sox took a chance on Wakefield, who once again, refused to quit on himself.  

 The ride reached another apex in 1995, as Wakefield baffled the American League, conjuring a 2.95 ERA. A year prior, Tim appeared a vagabond in the making, instead, he became a Red Sox fixture. The organization would ride shotgun for the duration of a roller-coaster career.

 By 2003, after years of shifting between the rotation and bullpen, Wakefield became glued into the Red Sox rotation, a commodity again, reliable.

 Tim Wakefield and his knuckleball would test reality once more in the ALCS.

/

  Mike Mussina started sharp, despite the jagged fracture in his routine. He induced a 1-2-3 first inning from the top of the Red Sox lineup, a harmless Nomar Garciaparra fly out finishing the frame.

  Wakefield equaled Mussina’s feat in the bottom of the first, and quickly, the innings started rolling by, spilling through the cracks of time.

 In the fourth, David Ortiz shattered the serenity. With Manny Ramirez on first base after a leadoff single, Ortiz struck a two run home run off Mussina, reaching the third deck of a quieted Yankee Stadium.  

 Mussina never recovered from the setback, completely relinquishing control of the game when Todd Walker nailed a mildly disputed home run off a fan near the foul pole right.  Manny Ramirez would add another dinger, barely over the outstretched glove of right fielder Juan Rivera, to give the Red Sox a four run lead. The offense set the stage for Wakefield, emerging as an early Series hero.
/

  By post game, much of the media’s attention centered on a deserving Tim Wakefield, the key player in a comfortable 5-2 Red Sox win. The Yankees had a glimmer of hope in the seventh, driving Wakefield from the game with a couple of walks, but the Red Sox maligned bullpen, becoming a strength for manager Grady Little, quarantined the potential outbreak, limiting the Yankees to two runs.

  The withering Yankee offensive attack increased the criticism surrounding their acquisition of Aaron Boone, who was contributing absolutely nothing in the playoffs. The Yankees surprised many baseball insiders by trading top pitching prospect Brandon Claussen to Cincinnati for the third baseman, essentially replacing popular clubhouse influence Robin Ventura.

 The transaction just didn’t seem necessary. Sacrificing the highly regarded Claussen in exchange for a luxury item was considered foolhardy, a desperate attempt by the Yankees to do something, anything, to appease their panicking fan base as the Red Sox closed the gap.

  Boone’s stock couldn’t be lower. He was flogged in the tabloids, anonymous scouts ridiculing his sloppy footwork and poor approach at the plate. He appeared overmatched, hopeless against elite pitching, a frivolous afterthought.

/

  The Yankees had turned to Andy Pettitte before, and he’d delivered many times, failed some others. Pettitte was a mystery in the postseason. Sometimes he was a monster, sawing off helpless hitter’s bats with a darting cut fastball before breaking their will with an innate ability to escape highly combustible jams. But in other instances, Pettitte would appear unnerved by the atmosphere, choking the life out of his pitches, losing his location. Andy was usually consistent in the regular season, which is why the stark transformation in his productivity during the playoffs, all or nothing at all, was confounding.  

 The answer existed in Andy’s head. Perhaps overly prepared, Pettitte would take his work ethic to an obscene level during the playoffs, plotting every pitch of his outings before game time. This strategy elevated and suffocated his talent in equal measure.

 Pettitte was brilliant in Game Two against the Twins.

 Which Andy would show up against Derek Lowe and the Red Sox in the ALCS?  

 The Red Sox had the game, and perhaps the Series, within their grip. It was nauseatingly obvious to any educated Yankee fan watching that the “bad” Andy Pettitte was indeed in the house for Game Two of the ALCS. Pettitte had absolutely nothing, the Red Sox rocking him all over the park, going for the kill.

 He had narrowly escaped a disastrous first inning, wriggling out of a bases loaded situation. Now, in the second, he gave up three hits without recording an out, the last knock arriving off the bat of the offensively anemic Damien Jackson, driving in a run, giving Boston a 1-0 nothing lead.

  And than the hand of momentum swerved, courtesy of Gabe Kapler. Looking for an outside fastball, the bane of his existence according to scouting reports, Gabe was jammed by a first pitch fastball inside, grounding into a double play which allowed the Yankees to escape the inning relatively unscathed.

 What Gabe didn’t know, and what caused the obsessively prepared Pettitte to deviate from the scouting reports, was his certainty that Kapler would bunt in that situation. Andy was willing to oblige him.

  Little’s call to eschew the bunt was another managerial decision met with derision within the Red Sox fan base.

 Little had taken over as the Red Sox manager in 2002, guiding them to a second place season in the American League East, despite a paper-thin pitching staff beyond Derek Lowe and Pedro Martinez.  

 Little was lauded for his distinct ability to harness the emotions of nearly every one of the 25 players forming his roster. From a superstar in a slump to a role player questioning his importance to the team or game, Little was able to uplift, tightening the strands of the strong bond that had come to define the Red Sox.  

 But, it was his in-game strategy that aroused alarm within the corridors of Red Sox Nation. Grady would make odd substitutions at inopportune times, such as his decision to pull Todd Walker an inning too early in Game Five of the ALDS against Oakland, setting the stage for Damien Jackson’s collision with Johnny Damon. Damon would not escape unscathed, suffering a concussion, an injury that kept the dynamic leadoff man out of the first two games of the ALCS.

  Foregoing the bunt with Kapler only heightened the paranoia that Grady would inevitably make an irredeemable decision, one that could sink a season.

/

 The Sox saw their slim Game Two advantage quickly go up in smoke, as Nick Johnson pounded an inviting Derek Lowe fastball over the right field fence, giving the Yankees a 2-1 lead.

/

  New York would not relinquish their lead. Andy Pettitte calmed his nerves and proceeded to mow down the Red Sox, his confidence reinforced with each scoreless inning. It was his second consecutive win with the Yankees on the brink of 2-0 Series deficit. Here was the sublime Pettitte, combining precision, poise, and power.

 New York would add insurance, and the game’s drama melted away until the eighth inning, when Jose Contreras brushed back David Ortiz.

 The Red Sox would respond in the bottom of the eighth, as Bronson Arroyo intentionally nailed Alfonso Soriano, payback.

 At once, as Soriano trained a venomous stare toward Arroyo, the focus flipped, to Game Three, and the intimidators toeing the mound, Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez.

 Would this isolated skirmish ignite something much worse?

 As the two teams headed to Fenway Park, the question hung ominously, its answer destined for infamy.  

/

Joe Torre hated ESPN. The way Torre figured it, ESPN gloried in controversy, reveling in the ugliness of bench clearing brawls, basking in base tabloid fodder. The network was relentless in a genuine pursuit to satisfy the lowest common denominator. ESPN’s tactics opposed Joe Torre’s morals. He was a supreme soother, able to handle the flammable combination of New York City and George Steinbrenner, not to mention the complicated emotional puzzle of 25man roster. He was reserved, detested raising his voice. ESPN, on the other hand, had become heavily invested in bluster. When the repetitive opinions of their analysts grew stale due to obvious overexposure, ESPN’s solution was to have them become caricatures, part of one grand sports spectacle, available 24 hours a day via basic cable. It was perfectly fine for ESPN to make a mockery of themselves, to extinguish their credibility, but when their philosophy, which morphed anchors into entertainers, trespassed between the white lines, they became an official enemy of Joe Torre, and by extension, the Yankees.

Torre had been infuriated by ESPN’s coverage of the Roger Clemens Mike Piazza rivalry, which spanned two agonizing years before relative closure in 2002. The feud had become a self-fulfilling prophecy, kept alive by the tabloids, spiraling completely out of control in the 2000 World Series, when Clemens, in a blind rage, hurled a splintered chunk of Piazza’s bat toward the Met catcher, turning Baseball’s crown jewel into a theater of the bizarre.  All the while, ESPN stoked the fire, endlessly hyping confrontations between Piazza and Clemens as if they were rival W.W.F. combatants.

 It drove Torre beyond his boiling point. Why was the media constantly accentuating ugliness? Besides the brush backs and bean balls exchanged in the waning innings of Game 2, the Yankees and Red Sox had been on their best behavior, keeping their Series purely about baseball. Simply put, they hadn’t given allowed an opening for the circus to enter town.

  But, much to Joe Torre’s dismay, that was all about to change. Pedro Martinez was about to give ESPN all the ammunition they needed.  

/

 Martinez was off. He was flipping up a wide array of breaking balls, refusing to challenge the Yankees with heat, removed from the perch of his peak.

  It had been an odyssey, for Pedro Jaime Martinez. He was a walking juxtaposition, slender frame belied by a huge heart, diminutive height hiding incredible talent. He had lived with the burden of being Ramon’s little brother, his older sibling a star pitcher with the L.A. Dodgers. When he was signed into the Dodger organization, many players accused the front office of nepotism, belittling Pedro as a charity case, too small to ever make an impact in the Major Leagues. This doubt stung Pedro, forging his will, shaping a defiant personality.

  After an outstanding Minor League career, Pedro joined his big brother at the Major League level, but still had a chorus of doubters discrediting his every achievement. Among the strongest voices against Pedro was Dodger manager Tommy Lasorda. He too, had believed that Martinez could never handle starting in the Major Leagues, and after trading him to Montreal for second baseman DeLino DeShields, practically predicated his demise.

 Instead of floundering, Martinez ascended in Montreal. Some players never reach their potential. Others maximize it

 Martinez transcended his.

 He became an unstoppable force. At the height of his powers, Pedro could probably survive an entire season throwing nothing but fastballs and changeups, due to his mastery of deception. But Martinez possessed even more in his repertoire, an embarrassment of riches at his elongated fingertips.

 Before he could leave the Expos as a free agent, Martinez was traded to the Red Sox for Tony Armas Jr. and Carl Pavano. Boston quickly signed Pedro to a seven-year contract. Red Sox fans, seeking a new pitching savior after the painful defection of Roger Clemens across the border to Toronto, would finally allow Martinez to bask in the respect and adulation he’d sought his entire career. He had mastered his craft within anonymity during his tenure with the Expos, a magnificent composer playing to an empty house.

Now he could shine in front of an audience, he could be loved.

The emotional dynamic between Red Sox fans and Pedro Martinez can be traced to Roger Clemens. Clemens had never delivered a Championship to Boston. He came agonizingly close in ’86. But, ultimately, Roger could never get it done in the playoffs, often folding against Red Sox nemesis Dave Stewart. It was as if the failure enveloping Red Sox history could taint the players continuing it, condemning them to endless heartache. But if any one player could kill the curse, it was Pedro. Red Sox fans needed Pedro to be better than Clemens, their reason to believe. Clemens became a villain, a metaphor for past failures. He wasn’t hated for leaving the city and franchise, or for forcing a trade to the hated Yankees from the languishing Blue Jays, no, this was mere collateral damage. Roger Clemens would always be hated in Boston for all his greatness hadn’t provided to the Red Sox. That was it, pure and simple.

 This pitcher, Pedro Martinez, was different. This team, the 2003 Red Sox, was different.

They needed to believe this. They needed to hate Clemens.  

  Martinez’s statistical performance is an echo of his greatness, his footprint in time. The accumulation of ERA titles, his second place MVP finish, it’s all evidence, indicting one of the greatest pitching talents in baseball history.

  But, silently or not, Red Sox fans would never forgive Pedro if he couldn’t guide the Red Sox to a championship.

They never forgave Clemens.  

/            

The breaking balls kept spinning flatly from Martinez’s hand, as the suddenly quiet Fenway crowd wondered what was wrong with their ace.

 Undeniably, Martinez had tired in the late innings of Game Five against Oakland. Speculation ran rampant that the life had run out of Martinez’s arm, drained by another grueling season of carrying the hopes of an entire city.  

  Any fantasies that Game 3 would be a legendary pitching duel had dissolved. Roger Clemens was hit hard in the first inning, allowing two runs. And Pedro was lacking the requisite velocity necessary to dominate, forced to finesse his way through the Yankee lineup. He was stung by Karim Garcia in the second, allowing a two out RBI single to the waiver wire pick-up. Earlier in the season, the hardboiled outfielder had taken surly Raul Mondesi’s job, leading to the malcontent’s overdue dismissal from the club. Yankee fans adopted Garcia as a cult hero, for his hustle and intensity. He was once a top prospect, heralded, famous for being traded by the Diamondbacks for Luis Gonzalez. Despite his relative youth, aged 27 in 2003, Garcia was rapidly becoming a journeyman, bouncing around different cities, failing to unlock his disappearing potential.

 He appeared to find his niche in Cleveland, rampaging in the second half of the 2002 season. But, at his first failing in 2003, he was sold by the club, their lack of faith obvious.

 Karim had landed with a previous employer, the Yankees, who were desperate for depth in their thin outfield. But, instead of sitting on the bench, Garcia was thrown into a right field platoon, where Raul Mondesi’s sagging production and sloppy defense was becoming an eyesore.

 After Mondesi’s welcomed departure, Garcia became an everyday player, surviving the trading deadline with his job in tact. Indeed, as cries of indignation rang out, condemning the Yankees for sticking with Garcia and replacing Robin Ventura, Karim quietly went about his business, hitting .305 as a fixture in the lineup.

 Karim wasn’t exactly graceful, but he was tough, and could turn on anybody’s fastball. His nostrils flaring and eyes aflame, Garcia was a portrait of volatility at the plate. He had a sweet left-handed stroke, his lone smooth attribute, and when he smoked a Pedro Martinez fastball for a single, driving in the Yankees’ first run of Game Three, it was a clear sign that the Red Sox ace hadn’t bought his best stuff to the ballpark.

  After a titanic Derek Jeter solo shot in the third, the game became tied at two. Clemens was settling in, while Pedro appeared increasingly uncomfortable, as the scene shifted to the top of the fourth.      

/

 Jorge Posada led off the fourth with a walk, another ill harbinger for Pedro Martinez. Martinez had owned Posada throughout the Yankees’ catcher career, frustrating him with an endless, mystifying array of breaking stuff. He verbally abused Posada from the Red Sox dugout, honing his skills as a bench jockey, wounding Jorge’s fierce pride. Whenever the two faced off, the result invariably favored Martinez, as Posada would clench up and attempt to hit Pedro’s dancing curves to the moon, inevitably striking out meekly, vengeance thwarted, Wile E. Coyote to Pedro’s mocking Road Runner.  

 But, in the fourth inning of Game 3, Jorge took a different approach, waiting Martinez out, passing on his junk, and earning a walk.

 The Yankees began smelling blood. If Martinez couldn’t typically torment Posada, something had to be amiss.  

 Succeeding Posada, First baseman Nick Johnson smacked an outside fastball off the base of the Green Monster in left, garnering a long single. Posada advanced to third, and the Yankees had a legitimate threat against a shaky Martinez.

 Hideki Matsui hit next, a big inning becoming delectably possible for the Yankees. The leftfielder, known as “Godzilla”, a mega star in Japan following his exploits with the Yomuri Giants, arrived in New York carrying the expectations of an entire country. After a slow start, Matsui tapping a brigade of harmless ground balls to second base, the New York newspapers began dubbing him “Ground-Zilla”, a flop in the making. But, after the necessary adjustments were applied to his swing, Matsui began to shine, but not as the prolific power hitter advertised. Instead, he became a steady, dependable threat, fundamentally sound, a true weapon in RBI situations. Hideki could elevate his game in correlation with the moment. On Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, playing in the pinstripes for the first time, Matsui slugged a Grand Slam against Joe Mays, a storybook debut. Here was another great Baseball contradiction, a rock star persona melded with workman style.

 Matsui would measure to the moment, once again, jolting a listless Martinez fastball down the right field line for a double, staggering Fenway, and setting the Yankees up with two runners in scoring position and nobody out.

  And now, Pedro, bereft of his stuff, snapped. He probably felt insulted, racked in such a monumental start, embarrassed in front of the fans that worshipped him.

 Karim Garcia dug his spikes deep into the batter’s box.

And than he was unhinged, hit in the back of his spine by a Martinez fastball. The intent was obvious. Garcia had been swinging a hot stick, Alfonso Soriano was ice cold and on-deck, a base was open.

 The Yankees dugout nearly spilled onto the field, enraged. Don Zimmer, the Yankees’ ancient bench coach, whose promising playing career was ruined by a fastball to the head, rose to the top step, berating Martinez for his recklessness.

 Karim Garcia was momentarily stunned, before flying into an understandable, wild and wide-eyed rage.

 He was awarded first base, but not before he and Martinez had a hearty exchange of expletives.

 Violence was in the air at Fenway Park.

 ESPN executives probably needed to hide their drool.

/

 Martinez’s plan was calculated, and effective. Lost All Star Alfonso Soriano continued his tailspin, grounding into a room service double play. The Yankees added another run to their ledger, but forfeited a precious chance to blow the game wide open.

 It should have been that simple, but Karim Garcia decided to honor the ancient baseball code of guilt by association. He executed a vicious takeout slide on Sox second baseman Todd Walker, nearly sending the prone infielder into left field. As he trotted off the field, he mumbled to Martinez, just loud enough for the two of them to hear, that the slide was for him.

  The quarrel should have been settled. Garcia had been hit intentionally, his livelihood threatened. He responded by assaulting Walker, Martinez’s penance.

 Enrique Wilson, inserted into the lineup at third base because of inexplicable ability to hit Martinez, popped out to Walker, ending the inning.

 The top of the fourth was over, but Martinez had lit a powder keg, with one vile pitch.

/

 Manny Ramirez took his craft of hitting to heart, working tirelessly to maintain a flawless swing. His powerful, right-handed cut was distinctly fluid, disconnected from his otherwise aloof personality. The Washington Heights product was born with the gift to hit, drafted by Cleveland Indians, rising through their system, terrorizing minor league pitchers.

 Manny could be surly off the field, his motives could be impossible to read, a riddle wrapped inside 140 RBI’s. But in the batter’s box, he was brilliant. He would set his opponent up for failure, purposely appearing pathetic on pitches he would maul later in an at-bat, or game.

 With the Red Sox, Manny alternated between happy, gloomy, goofy, and sullen. He would ask to be traded before pledging his loyalty, his emotions constantly swerving.

 But his swing would always remain the same, justification for Manny being Manny.

/

 It was Manny leading off the Red Sox fourth, positive that Clemens would exact a quick retribution.

/

 It wasn’t that bad of a pitch really, when one considers Manny’s proximity to home plate. It was a fastball, tailing inside, designed to jam Ramirez, but Clemens missed his location, the pitch sailing out of the strike zone around the letters of Manny’s Red Sox uniform.

 And than, Ramirez lost it. He pointed at Clemens with his bat, demanding that he be ejected from the game.

  The benches cleared, the Red Sox desperately attempting to keep the bat wielding Ramirez away from Clemens, as the Big Texan shouted in his direction, unafraid.  

  As the players tussled on the field, a number of them separating potential fights, sanity began to drip through the cracks of conflict.

 Derek Jeter had stepped in front of Clemens, nudging him away from the scrum. David Ortiz had, likewise, successfully protected Ramirez from himself.

   It appeared a conflagration had been avoided. Confusion reigned, but would soon dissolve. The game would resume.

 And than, Don Zimmer went after Pedro Martinez.

 /

 The mere sight of it, Pedro Martinez grabbing a hard charging, 72-year-old Don Zimmer by his starkly white, bald dome, shoveling him to the ground, bought on such a sense of abject incredulity that adjectives, stunning for instance, fail to do the scene even remote justice.        

How could that happen?

How could Don Zimmer risk serious injury just for one punch at Pedro Martinez?

How could Pedro Martinez throw down Zimmer in such an aggressive manner, hard enough that Zim’s metal plated head could bounce off the Fenway Park grass?

/

 Pedro Martinez wouldn’t be thrown out of the game. Neither was Clemens, or Ramirez, the aggressor. Impossible a task as it seemed, order was restored, and the bloodthirsty crowd calmed, perhaps by Zimmer’s climatic fall.

/

 In this particular plate appearance, Manny Ramirez had set himself up for failure, taking a halfhearted swing for strike three.

There was one out in the bottom of the fourth.

/

 Roger Clemens had delivered. He had sewn six strong innings, beating Manny Ramirez on an inside fastball with his final pitch, inducing a double play to escape a perilous sixth inning jam.

 Pedro Martinez had mowed down the Yankees’ following the fourth, but his second wind would not revive the Red Sox.

 Jose Contreras went from luxury to necessity, getting the game to Marino Rivera with the Yankees lead in tact, surrendering only one run, bending but not breaking.  

  The final score would favor New York, 4-3. Rivera performed his customary October feat of strength, notching two scoreless innings for the save. But this contest would not conclude without one final teeter toward the abnormal, as the Yankees took the field in the bottom of the ninth inning. Yankees relief pitcher Jeff Nelson would beat down a member of the Red Sox Bullpen detail, with an assist from teammate Karim Garcia. The groundskeeper, named Paul Williams, had drawn the ire of the Yankees bullpen by waving a towel during the game in order to incite fans. This seemingly innocuous annoyance somehow provoked Nelson to take a shot at Williams, causing Garcia to exit the proceedings with a cut finger, and the groundskeeper to press charges against both players.    

It was another blight on a deeply scarred game.

/

The Yankees would depart the chaos with a 2-1 series lead.

They would leave the Red Sox to make sense of the wreckage.

– Matt Waters

By mw2828

Matt Waters is a screenwriter currently living in New York. He has been writing about sports since age seventeen, about the time when it became painfully apparent that his athletic dreams would go unfulfilled, due to terrible luck and an obscene lack of talent. His favorite movie is “The Thin Red Line”. His favorite band is “Modest Mouse”. His favorite sport is baseball! With an exclamation point.

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