BOSTON – For those waltzing the grounds of Fenway Park in road uniform, there’s no worse curse than a two-syllable name. It’s an invitation for women and men, young and old, drunk and sober to unite in song, and that intonation, on the first round of the American League Wild Card Game, sounded something like this: “Geeeerrrr-rrrriiiitttt, Geeeerrrr-rrrriiiitttt, Geeeerrrr-rrrriiiitttt.”
It was clear, by this point, that baseball in October would be nothing like baseball last October, and thank goodness for that. At its best, there is something different about a baseball game in October. The mound is still 60 feet, 6 inches away, the bases still 90 feet apart, the ball still 5 ounces, all of the weird twisted numbers in the game are still inexplicably perfect.
The feeling, however. This is what is different. It’s primitive. Hoarse voices, throaty noises, moans, screams and chants like the one unleashed Tuesday at 8:28 pm on Gerrit Cole. It wouldn’t have taken tens of thousands of people cramming into the cramped Fenway quarters and watching the Red Sox dissect the Yankees in a 6-2 win to realize it, of course, but to at the very least, it validated the hypothesis.
Last year, bubble baseball intended, among other things, to offer a sort of return to normalcy. It remained woefully unnatural, crowning the Los Angeles Dodgers after beating the Tampa Bay Rays, Texas with half the seats vacant. It was a sporting dystopia – a major championship decided in a building that looked more like a warehouse setting up a TV production.
The real October baseball actually returned on Tuesday, and it did so with the Yankees-Red Sox, which, as played out as the rivalry might be, offered the perfect canvas to reintroduce the sights, sounds and feelings. that the game provides at this time of year. It was financial monster against financial monster, and it was ace against ace, and it was, as always with the Yankees and Red Sox, the present trying to emulate the past. It was also, because of that story, a supercharged version of what these two typically bring – the first game of a match between the two since Bucky Dent got a new middle name in 1978.
This setup alone made this game the perfect candidate to remind us why this month is special. But if we needed more recall, at the start of the first run, barely a minute after the start of the chant “Geeeerrrr-rrrriiiitttt”, Xander Bogaerts, in a deep collapse, sent a Cole change to 427 feet in. the central field. It was a jerk through a stadium that was already rocking – and sent lingering doubt that this game wasn’t a very, very big deal on a giant rocket to the moon.
Every October game that makes the month feel like a long vacation – not to mention every Yankees-Red Sox game worth it – comes with those moments. It’s not just home runs. But, yeah, there are a lot of home runs, it’s modern baseball and all, and Kyle Schwarber follows Bogaerts with a titanic shot of his own in the third inning to extend the Red Sox advantage to 3-0. These are the pieces that are engraved in the mind.
Cole leaving the mound in the third round will be impossible to forget. After the Schwarbomb, Kiké Hernandez scored a single from a low blow and Rafael Devers stepped on a full scoring change. And that was it. Yankees manager Aaron Boone left the dugout and Cole left the game. The Yankees awarded him a $ 324 million contract two years ago for games like this. He lasted 50 throws.
The chants, at that time, evolved. Fenway played the hits. “The Yankees suck” runs off. Much like “Come on, Red Sox”, when they threatened attack – or knocked him down, as Alex Verdugo did in the seventh with a two-run single to make it 6-1. And as the night wore on and the New York Yankees’ extinction in 2021 drew near, they also vanished, first to a surprisingly good chant for “Mr. Brightside” and then a robust unsurprisingly. for “Sweet Caroline”, then in these guttural noises, these moans and these cries.
The miserable 2020 Red Sox had given in to a new incarnation – one with Alex Cora, their manager banned last season for his role in the Astros cheating scandal, back in the saddle, and with a roster well-built enough to stand up to it. to a large COVID-19 outbreak in the midst of their playoff surge. No, this team weren’t great, and it’s still a big long shot to win the fifth Red Sox championship in 18 years. But it was good enough to give 38,324 the ability to tax their voicemail boxes on Tuesday. Now they’re going to be able to do it for at least one more day this weekend.
They screamed for Bogaerts and Schwarber and Nathan Eovaldi, the right-hander whose last playoff appearance lasted six innings and 97 shots – in relief. It was an outing that earned him legendary status among his peers as well as Red Sox fans, and hitting eight Yankees in 5 innings while only giving Anthony Rizzo a home run only cemented this place.
This is where the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry currently sits. Since the Yankees led 3-0 in the 2004 AL Championship Series, the Red Sox have beaten them in eight of nine playoff games. Boston has won four World Series and New York one. The last joint effort of the Fenway crowd was “Dirty Water,” the song that punctuated the Red Sox’s victories.
Perhaps, because it’s baseball, the Red Sox continue to push their way through October, even as the Tampa Bay Rays’ 100 wins stand in their way. But whether or not they win another game, the Red Sox did a great service on Tuesday, hosting the National League Wild Card game on Wednesday between two other jewelry franchises, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the St. Cardinals. Louis.
Dodger Stadium might not sing like Fenway did. But it will bellow and howl and roar and remind us why October baseball – the real guy – is so good to have back.