The Red Sox are the American League East Champions. It took an eleven game win streak at the end of September to put them in the position they’re in right now. They convincingly earned the division title. Having said that, they couldn’t have scripted a worse way to win the division. Like the 2004 ALCS, the Red Sox had the opportunity to celebrate on the Yankees field. The stage was set. 3-0 lead in the bottom of the 9th inning as the recently unhittable Craig Kimbrel was going into the game. Most of the Yankees fans left. They had seen this before and didn’t want to watch their rivals and their fans take over their stadium.
In the Red Sox dugout, the players and coaches knew that the Blue Jays lost and that they were already division champions. But, they had to wait to celebrate on the field. Everyone was buzzing with anticipation to finally get to celebrate after a grueling 157 games of baseball with the goal of winning the AL East. Two straight last place finishes and now they would be able to let it all out. Slowly, but surely, Kimbrel was giving the Yankees a shot. He allowed four consecutive base runners before being taken out of the game. Oddly, he seemed to have an issue with the decision when John Farrell came to the mound. What exactly did he expect to happen?! In came Joe Kelly…
Now, at this point, there was starting to be a feel of the Red Sox possibly losing this game. But, not in this spot. Not to the Yankees. Kelly then struck out the next batter on a fastball right on the corner. OK, we’re getting out of this. Up came Mark Teixeira. Yes, the same Teixeira who the Red Sox thought they had signed years ago before he helped lead the Yankees to the 2009 World Series. The same Mark Teixeira who is batting .205 this season. The only real question was would he strike out or would the Red Sox get really lucky with him hitting into a double play to end the game.
Ever hear Carl Yastrzemski’s story about his view of the Bucky Dent home run in 1978? He tells it as if he thought it was just a routine fly ball to him in left field.. Then he thought it was off the wall. Then he looked up and it was gone. Yankees went on to win the World Series. Red Sox got more heartbreak. Now, grated, this situation was much different. But, when Teixeira hit that ball, Jackie Bradley Jr. looked like he had a read on it. Then the ball just kept going…. Going… Gone.
Just like that, the Sox went from the anticipation of celebrating on the field at Yankee Stadium to walking into the dugout with their heads down as Mark Teixeira celebrated as he circled the bases in front of his home crowd. The fourth place team was ecstatic and the team that had just won the division was shocked about what just transpired…
Ten minutes later, the Red Sox were popping champagne in the clubhouse celebrating a division title. Yeah, it needed to be done. However, what a strange situation for the team. Surely, players like Dustin Pedroia couldn’t have felt good about it. Many of these players just don’t like to lose and there was no worse loss this year than that stinker.
The Red Sox won’t have another losing celebration this year. Perhaps, they will enjoy the next one more as a result of this odd celebration.