Edes' 2004 top moments: ALCS Games 4-5

BOSTON -- A moment? Ha. I can't crystallize 2004 into a single moment, any more than a historian could summarize the French Revolution by one swoosh of the guillotine.

But for the purposes of this exercise, I can narrow it down to 10 hours and 51 minutes, the time it took for the Red Sox to black out the first syllable of impossible as deftly as those graffiti artists transformed the "reverse curve" sign on Storrow Drive into "Reverse the Curse."

On Oct. 18, 2004, at 1:22 a.m., David Ortiz beat the Yankees with a 12th-inning home run. Before another page could be torn off the calendar, at 11 p.m., Ortiz did it again, beating the Yankees with a 14th-inning single. This was the equivalent of Carlton Fisk hitting the foul pole squared, and so much more.

Fisk's home run in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series bought one more game in what many have regarded as the greatest World Series ever played, but there was no shame in losing to the Big Red Machine. The respect of a franchise was not at stake; that battle already had been won.

The '04 Sox, however, with memories still fresh of 2003's shattering Game 7 defeat to the Yankees, were on the brink of humiliation, having lost three straight to the Bombers, including a 19-8 beatdown in Fenway Park in Game 3. The weight of history had seldom felt as crushing, or fatalism as fashionable. The call of "wait 'til next year" had a rapidly approaching expiration date, soon to make way for "wait 'til next century."

That all changed in the span of 26 of the most gripping innings ever contested in the history of this or any other rivalry. As stand-alone games, each was epic; taken together, they became the Mahabharata.

Twenty-five times previously, a team had been down three games to none in postseason play. On 20 of those occasions, those series had ended in four-game sweeps. Only twice had the underdog forced a sixth game; no team had ever come back and run the table.

In the span of 10 hours and 51 minutes, the Red Sox turned probability on its head, regained their dignity, and rekindled the faith of their downtrodden fan base. They transformed what had seemed the hollow bravado of Kevin Millar before Game 4 ("Don't let us win this game") into prophecy worthy of Jeremiah, punctured the aura of Yankee invincibility, and became masters of a destiny they ultimately fulfilled in the heart of darkness, Yankee Stadium.

Now, wasn't that fun?