Cowboy Up may be dead as a rallying cry, but it seems like the attitude lives on in the 2004 Sox players.
More than 100 years of baseball history says it cannot be done - you cannot win four in a row after losing three in a row in a playoff series - not because of history itself, mind you, but the history is as it is because coming back from a 3-0 deficit is just very, very, very hard - too hard for any single team to ever have done it.
Nevertheless, the last two nights of Red Sox-Yankees baseball makes Cowboy Up come to mind and makes you wonder whether this is the year that breaks not only curses, but tradition.
Okay, sentimentality aside, to the wonders of the last two nights (both exciting and not so exciting).
- David Ortiz: The Red Sox paying this man $6M a year to play baseball is downright fraud on the team's part. They lied to him about his value and he believed them. Two game-winning hits in the ALCS in back-to-back games? If history is made, and the Sox get to and win a game 7, is not David Ortiz the new Mr. October?
- Derek Lowe: Remember, this guy had to put aside or forget about a pretty miserable season where he lost control of his sinker and could not begin to figure out where to find it, suffer the indignity of going from super starter to end of the bullpen bench guy (he won more games than any other ML starter in 2002-2003), then recover his pitch and his dignity almost overnight to pitch when Schilling went down -- and pitch well enough to keep his team alive in the game.
- Orlando Cabrera: Sign him and the Sox are guaranteed every routine play and many, many outrageous plays, at short. There is no more important position after pitcher, and if Derek Lowe (and players to be named later) are no longer with the team, find a way to pay him. Sorry, but Omar Vizquel won't do. Cabrera also is hitting when it counts.
- Pedro Martinez: Yeah, he's probably going to New York or Anaheim next year (my personal bet is against it), but he has pitched the best games by starters so far for the Sox in this series, and got hung out (again) last night beyond what he is now capable of. The facts are indisputable about the magic number of 100, so why continue to imagine or hope that he is 1999-2000 Pedro? He did what he was capable of doing -- he cannot do anymore. Get used to it -- I will bet that his next manager will grasp the facts quickly.
- Tim Wakefield: Heart, heart, heart. The guy is all heart and a flutterball. Voluntarily giving up a start to pitch in a bloodbath, and then pitching three shutout innings last night, including retiring the heart of the Yankees order - what more can you ask of a teammate?
- Keith Foulke: Now you see why he is here -- his record against the Yankees speaks for itself. Amazing performance Sunday night, another one last night. And with no real heat to speak of, just guile and a great change-up.
- Bill Mueller: Some great fielding and smart hitting. He is perhaps more valuable for his defense in this series than offense (but that's subjective).
In the middle somewhere:
- Curt Schilling: If he is 85% of the real Curt Schilling tonight, the game (like the last two) will be an instant classic. The man has heart, and balls. Let's hope he can be brutally honest with himself if his ankle hurts too much to pitch and give the ball to someone else.
Now for the not so exciting:
- Johnny Damon: They are pitching you inside. Figure out a way to deal with it. And for heaven's sake, learn how to bunt.
- Manny Ramirez: They are pitching you inside. Figure out a way to deal with it. And for heaven's sake, learn how to run the bases.
- Mark Bellhorn: They are pitching you inside. Figure out a way to deal with it. And for heaven's sake, learn the strike zone.
- Mike Timlin: Shaky, shaky, shaky lately. Last night was much better. Perhaps you should stay angry all of the time.
Yeah, I'll keep watching -- but turning my head in the scary parts.