Captivating Baseball On The Throes Of Elimination: ALCS Game Five

Mark HandelmanContributor IOctober 16, 2008

"Boo-hoo, my team is out."

The fans of 27 other baseball teams have now said that (or a variation of) phrase at some point this season. For me, it was on September 28, when the Mets hit the proverbial 'snooze' button and choked their way out of the playoffs on the last day of the season yet again.

But for my first article at Bleacher Report, I will abstain from the streaming of complaints and the I-would-have-done-different-lies.

If you consider yourself a fan of at least one MLB team, that's a great start to what I am about to write. If you tune away from the sport when your team does the same, I guess you'll not care much when you hear other people or broadcasters go on about tonight's Tampa Bay Rays/Boston Red Sox game. If you fall into the latter category, then you missed a great game that only religious deities (or all-powerful television executives) could have scripted.

Facing elimination in tonight's ALCS Game Five (and knowing Boston, the bottom of many alcoholic drink bottles), the Red Sox quickly fell into a 2-0 hole. The Rays pretty much played better baseball throughout much of the night, at one point building a 7-0 lead and looking nothing like the (Devil) Rays of old.

The Sox finally scored their first run in the seventh inning, and rather than greet their team with a mocking roar, Boston fans came back from the exits and cheered their team on. David Ortiz then lived up to his nickname (and it would be a terrible, predictable trick if I dropped that name here) and belted a three-run home run down the right-field line, netting four runs for the Sox and putting them back in the game.

The Rays bullpen, a group which much of America is discovering as a force to be reckoned with, was given seven runs to play with. Even after the home run by Ortiz, you still have to like the Rays' chances here.

But as it has been proved in many upset games in sports over the years, seven runs were not enough to stave off a hungry, professional, and dare I say it, entitled team like the Red Sox.

J.D. Drew, now in a lineup sans-Manny Ramirez and without the reliable performance of Ortiz, hit a two-run shot to pull the Sox up to 7-6. Mark Kotsay and Coco Crisp (again, no cheap jokes with names) tag-teamed and notched the Sox even in the eighth inning.

Poor Evan Longoria. The new poster-boy for the all-American, young, talented, five-tool third baseman finally performed closer to his mortal peers when he threw high to first on a two-out Kevin Youkilis grounder.

Buy two, get one free.

That's what Drew did, after he drove in Youkilis with the winning run to finish the comeback and keep Boston's bars a little more jolly tonight.

What was played out in Fenway Park and on our television sets on this night was baseball magic. Fans of perennially-losing teams know what it's like to be down seven runs, or to not even have a chance to mount an offense.

But the Red Sox, shorn of their underdog prestige and full of an entitlement to win (along with the talent to do just that), pulled off what usually falls victim to an ill-timed strikeout, or being jammed inside, or yet another throwing error.

They staged a rally.

They staged a story.

They staged one more game.