The Red Sox lost yesterday completing a sweep by the Nats, ending the home stand 1-5 and dipping two games below .500 for the first time since May 20th. They have now dropped six of their last nine after winning six of the previous nine. So the streaky season of 2012 continues and we are left to wonder which edition of the Red Sox is the true 100th anniversary Fenway version.
Bobby V is still looking for answers to Red Sox consistency.
I’m not sure why, but this recent Sox swoon has got me to thinking of their, what I will call, “Big Time Swoons”. Now if the vast majority of you were asked to name the biggest, “Big Time Swoon”, I’m betting you will all say, 1978. You know the mantra, they blew a 14 game lead, blah, blah, blah….But I’m here to tell you today, you would be wrong. And this is something I never understood.
Manager Don Zimmer, Carlton Fisk and Rick Burleson, 1978.
First off, the biggest lead the Red Sox had during the 1978 season was 10 games up on the Milwaukee Brewers from July 5th through July 8th. The Yankees were 14 games out at one point.
Second, that team DID NOT CHOKE! What? I can hear you all screaming and I will repeat it, they DID NOT CHOKE! Here’s the deal!
We all remember the “Boston Massacre”, but let’s refresh, and remember those thrilling days of yesteryear. It’s Thursday September 7, 1978, the Yankees are at Fenway for a four game series and the Sox hold a four game lead. The Sox lost, 15-3, 13-2, 7-0 and 7-4 and the Yankees left Boston tied for first place. The Orioles followed the Yanks into Fenway and the Sox split two games with them and moved on to Cleveland where they dumped two more before going to Yankee Stadium down a game and a half.
They dropped the first two games to fall three and a half back and they were now officially free-falling having dropped nine out of ten and SIX of them to the Yankees. Yikes!
Dennis Eckersley salvaged the last game of the series in New York and the Sox left the Bronx two and a half out.
“Eck” won four games the last two weeks of the 1978 season.
Eck’s win showed a spark of life in the dying body of the Red Sox and kept the plug from being pulled on the 78 campaign. Oh everyone thought it was but a matter of time, everyone that is but the twenty-five guys in uniform.
They headed to the Motor City for four and after they took the first two they cut New York’s lead to a game and a half. A loss in the third game put it back at two and set the stage for what can only be termed a remarkable finish!
There were 10 games to go, one more in Detroit, three in Toronto and then home for six, three with the Tigers and then three more with the Blue Jays. They beat the Tigers and headed to Toronto where they lost the first game of the series. However, the Yankees were dropping one in Cleveland so they remained two out and when they won the following night and the Indians beat the Yankees again the lead was one game with seven to go!
The Red Sox won the next six games including a dramatic 7-6, 14 inning comeback win in Toronto. The Yankees were undaunted as they also won six straight bringing everything down to the last game of the season. Toronto was in Fenway and the Indians were in Yankee Stadium. If New York won, it was over, if the Sox won and New York lost, it was an all of nothing game, at Fenway, the next day!
Pitching in what would turn out to be his last game in a Red Sox uniform, the incomparable Luis Tiant shut out the Jays 5-0 and all that was left to do was wait for the results from New York.
Rick Waits became every Red Sox fan’s favorite player on October 1, 1978.
The word came and it was good, Rick Waits and the Indians beat the Yanks 9-2 and when I left Fenway Park, I headed over to buy an Indians hat to wear in tribute for the rest of the day. They were sold out!
There was one more day of baseball, the following day at Fenway.
to be continued….
And so it is on this day in Fenway Park history June 11, 2012.