And so, at last, it comes down to this. It always comes down to this. The Red Sox never do things easily.
ESPN’s Jim Caple had a lovely passage in his column on tonight’s deciding game:
Clemens and Pedro may be facing off against each other on the mound, but they won’t be alone. It’s never just the players on the field when these two teams meet. It’s also all the players who have ever played in the rivalry.
Joe DiMaggio will be taking batting practice with Ted Williams. Billy Martin will be challenging Jimmy Piersall to a fight in the stadium tunnel. Carlton Fisk and Thurman Munson will be wrestling in the dirt behind home plate. Bucky Dent will be going yard, Reggie Jackson will be admiring his home runs and Carl Yastrzemski will be raising his bat high as he squints at the pitcher.
Will this be the year the Red Sox finally go all the way and defeat the Curse of the Bambino? If so, what better place from which to step onto the World Series stage than the House that Ruth Built? And what better pitcher to overcome than former Sox superstar Roger Clemmens?
Tonight’s the night. One game. Nine innings. Backs against the wall. One team goes to Florida to fight for the championship, the other goes to Florida to play golf.