Back in 2003, Kevin Millar led the Red Sox to victory, and despite 1 12th inning home run off of Tim Wakefield's ugliest knuckle, there was still a feeling of MAYBE NEXT YEAR for real in all of the pain that came with that sucker punch over the Green Monster, which devastated the Fenway Faithful more than any long ball had since Bucky Bleepin' Dent. It was such a moment for Yankees fans that even though they had their asses kicked at home, they felt a sense of moral victory with that shot that it ended up in Drew Barrymore's "Hey, you have brain damage!" video in 50 First Dates. However, somewhere in that transition from COWBOY UP to IDIOTS, the Red Sox pulled it together for 4 wins on the brink of elimination and then swept the Cardinals.
It was the most magical of moments, and even after Millar left the Sox, there was a feeling that his cheerleader self needed to retire to be a bench coach in Boston (instead, he eventually retired to be an MLBTV host). He was the same glue that held the Red Sox together for their run to the top in much the same way as Jason Varitek did. Sure, there was Pedro for those early years, but after the "daddy" comment (so depressing, we won't even repeat it in its entirety), it was all over. Carrying a super little person around (2 foot 4 - Nelson De La Rosa), there was a sense of the circus as the Sox cast a few loose ends away and rode into a 2nd championship in 2007. Life was good, and even if Millar wasn't there, Manny Ramirez and Big Papi still were.
Life felt good until Manny went AWOL. Maybe this always was. Maybe it was as Millar said - "Manny being Manny," but there was something uglier in there. Drugs? Steroids? General insanity? Selfishness? All of the above? We don't know, but we do know he quit on 3 teams and seemed to be heading for a 4th when he retired today.
Of course, this was due to a 2nd drug bust. The last one was obviously just what he said it was - sexual medication. The supposed non-bust for being on the 2003 list of drug busts - that was also nothing. And in the end, that's what it was - an unofficial / official black eye. This time, his 50 game suspension would have been small potatoes as he was looking at a 100-game suspension in a season he was crapping the bed with a 1/17 start - but there was that final RBI... yeah.
And it's all over now, Manny.
As the Red Sox finally beat the Yankees for their first win of 2011, Jon Papelbon did something right (save the game in order in the 9th) as Dustin Pedroia's 3 hit day propelled the offense in spite of Wacky Lackey giving up 6 runs in 5 innings for a victory that was more due to a solid offense starting to wake up (12 hits / 9 runs) with a tee ball session off of Phil Hughes (out after 2 innings). Had they faced Bartolo Colon from the beginning, he of the healthy mid section, they would have been licking more wounds, but after Lackey left, the Yankees went to sleep. Alas, the weekend series moves on and so does life - its' just that now there won't be any more Manny Ramirez to kick around. Hell, he's done himself in for the Cooperstown vote despite 555 long balls. So much for magic numbers guaranteeing admission to the hallowed halls.