"What If?" deals with certain moments in sports history that I will examine, make up a different outcome to that moment, and predict the effects it will have on the future of sports history.
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Ok, so let's picture the scene.
October of 2003, Game 7 of the ALCS in Yankee Stadium. The Boston Red Sox lead the New York Yankees 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning. Pitcher Pedro Martinez has pitched brilliantly up to this point.
So, Grady Little decides to keep Pedro on the mound, even though he has thrown over 120 pitches. He's given up a couple of hits in the inning now and clearly looks tired. Hideki Matsui is now up for the Yankees.
If you're the manager for the Red Sox and you're five outs away from the franchise's first World Series birth since 1986, what would you do in this situation?
Well, what if Grady Little took Pedro out and put the game in the hands of Tim Wakefield and company?
Sure, the bullpen wasn't very good that season, but a rested bullpen might have been better than a tired Pedro Martinez. The bullpen comes in for Pedro and stops a Yankee rally in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Red Sox would eventually win 5-3 and move onto the World Series to face Florida, where they would proceed to lose to the Marlins.
However, we all know what Boston did in 2004. It was an incredible rally against the Yankees, and then a sweep against St. Louis in the World Series. But all of that was under Terry Francona.
If Boston won Game 7 of the ALCS, then Grady Little would most likely come back for another year.
But Little is no Terry Francona, and the Red Sox aren't a championship team in 2004 if Grady comes back. They end up being bested by the Yankees in the ALCS, this time in a sweep, and they shall continue not to win a World Series title, ever (well, at least since 1918).
So even if you think Grady Little hurt Red Sox' fans by being stupid in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, you have to wonder if that really was a bad moment for Boston. Sure, it was looked upon as one of the worst losses in Boston sports history. But considering Grady Little and his status with Boston, would it really be a good thing if Boston had won?
If Pedro Martinez was taken out in the bottom of the eighth, I don't think Red Sox fans are talking about a great team this year.
I don't think they are even talking about winning, except if it has to do with 1918.