The Boston Red Sox's ownership, manager, players and fans have all complained about the negative impact media coverage has had on the team. We at ESPN Boston are opting -- for one night, at least -- to tweak our regular coverage in advance of this weekend's series against the New York Yankees, so we used our imagination to take a positive outlook on the team's current plight. We are confident that your hometown heroes will respond to our exhortations and vanquish the Mighty Bombers. Fight hard, lads!
NEW YORK -- A weary but gallant group of Red Sox players, led by their plucky skipper Bobby Valentine, gathered in Baltimore's Penn Station late Thursday night to board the iron horse that will carry them to the Big Apple and a rematch with the Mighty Bombers of Gotham.
The Sox played their hearts out the past three nights against the Orioles, but Fate and Lady Luck dealt them a tough hand. Despite their best efforts -- which included a five-inning no-hitter (!!!) by Aaron Cook -- the Sox were able to claim just one hard-earned victory, steady Clay Buchholz spinning a beauty Thursday night in Camden Yards. Once again, the game's greatest fans were represented in large numbers, having made the arduous journey down the Jersey Turnpike to show their support for A-Gon, Pedey, Our Josh and all the Boys.
"I'm sure our fans will be there for us in the Bronx, too," chuckled Jack McCormick, the team's affable traveling secretary who despite the lateness of the hour was as sunny as ever. What a lucky guy McCormick is, traveling with a group of fellas who would sooner tote their own bags on board than ask the grandfatherly McCormick for the smallest favor. Why, wouldn't you know, cheerful Cody Ross and likable Mike Aviles volunteered to pass out the room keys upon the team's arrival in New York.
It was only three weeks ago, you may recall, that the Sox last visited Gotham and had their spirits lifted by the team-only pep rally organized by their wise and benevolent owner, John W. Henry. Gosh, was Mr. Henry embarrassed when someone spilled the beans on Henry's private cheerleading.
"No good deed goes unpunished, does it, Larry?" an abashed Henry declared to his most trusted adviser, Larry Lucchino, who along with Smiling Tom Werner had secretly assembled at the Palace Hotel in New York to surprise the lads with a morale-boosting rendezvous. They beamed as one player after another paid tribute to their skipper, Bobby V, who was detained in another room for fear he would literally burst with pride at all the compliments sent his way.
"Boys, we've had our share of bad breaks," said Henry, who reminded the team of how he managed to overcome the unfortunate fall he took on his yacht in October, which kept him from bidding a fond farewell to the team's former skipper, Terry Francona. "But we share your belief in Bobby, and I've been humbled to hear first-hand how many of you would run through a wall for your manager."
"Hear, hear," interrupted Dustin Pedroia, leaping to his feet and wildly applauding, soon to be joined by all of his mates, some with tears in their eyes. Their cheers could be heard all the way down the long halls of the Palace to the room where Valentine and his loyal coaches, Bob McClure and Tim Bogar, were swapping tales of the old days, smiling and laughing at the great memories.
Inspired by the timely gesture of their generous owner, the lads enjoyed a marvelous weekend in Gotham, smiting the Yankees with last at-bat victories in each of the final two games, which more than erased their unfortunate loss on Friday night. After their stirring victory in the series finale, one in which Our Josh and Bobby V fought so fiercely to win that they were ejected by an umpire who clearly had it out for our lads, Valentine called his favorite beat writers to gather in his office.
"Boys," he said, "I know most of you expect the gonfalon to fly again here in the Bronx. But that's not the way I see it. Mark my words, boys, the Red Sox are far from finished. We haven't had our hot streak yet, but when we do, the Bombers will be the ones in trouble."
Alas, three weeks later, that hot streak has not yet materialized. The Sox were 9½ games behind the Bombers when they last left Gotham. They return 12½ games back, as Dame Fortune has withheld her charms during these dog days of August. It grieves this correspondent to note that the division title might now be out of reach for your heroes, but while they arrive here wounded, they remain unbowed. There is no quit in these Red Sox, no loss of determination by Bobby V, for whom the word "surrender" does not exist in his vocabulary. Do not abandon your heroes in their hour of need. Invite Don and Jerry into your living rooms this weekend, Joe Castig and O'B on your car radios, and root, root, root for the home team. Remember the words of Al Michaels: "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!"