BOSTON -- For the first time since October 22, 1975, the Red Sox are taking the field at Fenway Park with a chance to clinch a World Series championship.
October 22, of course, was the night after the Carlton Fisk gyration down the first-base line; that home run won Game 6 and set up the winner-take-all showdown with the Reds. (Actually, it wasn't the night after. It was later that same day, since Fisk clanked the ball off the foul pole at 12:34 a.m.) The Sox, of course, lost Game 7, as they squandered a 3-0 lead and lost it, 4-3, when Cincinnati pushed across a run in the top of the ninth off rookie Jim Burton . . . who would only pitch one more game in the major leagues after that.
(Aside: What would the reaction be today if a manager entrusted a ninth-inning tie in the seventh game of the World Series to a rookie middle reliever? Or, to put it another way, would the explosion on Twitter, Facebook and talk radio resemble that of an atomic bomb, or a hydrogen bomb?)
Anyway. Those days are gone, swept away when the Cowboy Up/Idiot Sox of 2004 won it all. It's why folks here at Fenway are filled with eager anticipation, instead of how-will-they-do-it-to-us-this-time? dread.
As we await the first pitch, here are some notes, courtesy of the Red Sox' P.R. department:
-- The 2013 Red Sox are trying to join the 1991 Twins as the only teams ever to win a World Series one season after finishing in last place.
-- Tonight John Lackey is looking to become the first pitcher ever to start and win the clinching game of a World Series for two different teams. He won Game 7 of the 2002 World Series for the Angels as a 24-year-old in 2002.
-- According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Jimmy Key (1992 with the Blue Jays in relief, 1996 with the Yankees as a starter) and Catfish Hunter (1972 with the A's in relief, 1978 with the Yankees as a starter) are the only other players to earn a World Series-clinching win with two teams.
-- There have been 10 pitchers overall who have clinched two World Series, including these six who did it as a starter both times: Bob Gibson of the Cardinals, Lefty Gomez of the Yankees, Sandy Koufax of the Dodgers, Art Nehf of the Giants, Andy Pettitte of the Yankees and Vic Raschi of the Yankees. No pitcher has ever earned three World Series-clinching wins.