Game Seven of the World Series, Fenway Park. Bottom of the 12th Inning.
This could really happen.
Joe Torre yawns and strolls to the mound to make a pitching change. Derek Lowe emerges from the bullpen and struts across a frosty Fenway outfield, engulfed by chants of “Derek, Derek, Derek.”
Joe Buck comments, “Though Lowe has been inconsistent in September, he has risen to the occasion in this postseason. They say his sinker is sometimes most effective when he is fatigued.”
Bill Mueller, Dodgers special assistant to the GM, sits behind the Dodger dugout next to his special guest (Dave Roberts).
Manny Ramirez, having hit a go-ahead home run off Manny Delcarmen in the top half of the 12th, lurks in the left field corner like he never left.
Nomar Garciaparra nervously yanks at the lacing on his glove at first base, and prepares himself to squeeze the game-winning out.
As Lowe throws his warm-up tosses, the Fenway crowd is serenaded by Low Rider.
“All my friends know the low rider. The low rider is a little higher. Low rider don't use no gas now. Low rider don't drive too fast.”
You could almost see a small grin creep across Dr. Charles Steinberg’s (now Dodger Chief Marketing Officer) face, knowing he would have lined up a similar selection for such an occasion.
The Sox are down to their last out. Kevin Youkilis is at third base, breathing heavily and sweating profusely. Coco Crisp (having pinch run for Mike Lowell) takes his lead off second. Jason Bay digs in at the plate. Buck and McCarver mention the Ramirez/Bay trade for the 151st time. And, the Fenway crowd stands as one (cheering with fervor and fear).
Two clubhouses are wrapped in plastic and stocked with champagne, Bud Light, and goggles. The Red Sox bullpen’s instruments are frozen to their hands. Players on both sides stand across the top steps of their dugouts. Lowe toes the rubber…and delivers. Crack…
This could really happen. A series for the ages.
The Dodgers hold a four-game lead over the Diamondbacks in the NL West, and are as good a bet as any in the National League, having won 12 of their last 13 games (remember the Rockies of 2007). The Sox lead in the wild card is even more safe (five games in the loss column), and they have the make-up for a deep run in the playoffs.
Red Sox/Cubs…Red Sox/Mets…neither holds a torch to what would be the perfect storm of baseball match-ups. It will be a long overdue return to Fenway for Nomar and D-Lowe. What will their reception be in the context of a World Series? It will be an uncomfortable reunion with Manny—think seeing a girlfriend too soon after she broke up with you. You still have feelings for her but you want her to be miserable.
Ramirez vs. Bay. Francona vs. Torre. LA’s chance for redemption after the NBA Finals.
This could really happen.