You may have realized that the Red Sox have been involved in some pretty exciting games lately. Add that to the exciting victory this weekend by the New England Patriots, and “great games” have been on my mind today. I wondered if I had every discussed great games here on the blog. It turns out that I have, about nine years ago. Back then I made a list of the ten best games I had ever seen, and another of the ten best I had ever seen in person. I decided that it was time to update that list, both to see if any newer games are worth discussing and to save you the trouble of searching through ten years of posts. So, here I'll present the ten best games I've ever seen in person.
For this exercise, I probably could call it “important” games as opposed to “best”. There aren't many pitchers duels on this list, and if there are that's not why they're there. Maybe I should do an “exciting game” list to capture Pedro-Colon match ups or huge ninth inning comebacks. This list seems to be more of a “tell your grandkids you were there” sort of list.
So, with all the explanations out of the way, here is my list presented in no particular order...except that they're in order of greatness from least to most.
10. October 10, 1999. Cleveland Indians vs Boston Red Sox
This was game four of the 1999 ALDS. The Sox had fallen into a early 0-2 hole in the series. The Sox won game three at home, but still trailed in the series 1-2. This wasn’t good enough for Mike Hargrove. He knew one thing. Pedro Martinez was looming over a potential deciding game five. Sure, Pedro had to leave game one with an injury, and his availability for game five was in question. But, he was out there. Hargrove wanted no part in a game five with Pedro on the mound. To avoid it? He called on Bartolo Colon to start the game on short rest. He didn’t save him to potentially duel with Pedro on regular rest. He wanted to end the series right there in game four. It didn’t work. Colon got lit up. So did every other pitcher called on that night. The Red Sox stormed all over the Indians 23-7 to take the series back to Cleveland. It was an amazing show. It was a poor decision. It was a fantastic game.
9. October 20, 2007. Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox
This was game six of the 2007 ALCS. I’ve already talked about the game here, so I won’t bore you with the details. You know the drill though. Sox down in the series. J.D. Drew earns his contract. Sox win.
8. April 27, 2002. Tampa Bay Devil Rays vs. Boston Red Sox
A Rays game in April? How could that be great? This one is unique on this list in that I didn’t know going to the game that it would at least me “something” special about the day. This one was completely out of left field. Or, I guess, the pitchers mound. Of course, that was the day Derek Lowe decided to announce himself as a starting pitcher. He threw a no-hitter that day as the Red Sox crushed the Devil Rays. I was in the park that day, and had chills for about three innings. The ninth inning was all standing and cheering and shaking. If that’s not great, I don’t know what is.
7. October 16, 1999. New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox.
Game three of the 1999 ALCS. In the first trip by the Red Sox to the ALCS in quite some time, they faced the Yankees. It was the first ever play-off meeting between the two. Down 0-2 in the series, the Sox sent Pedro Martinez to the mound facing Roger Clemens. Old ace vs. new ace. Past vs. present. The hype was beyond the moon. Once again, Pedro rose to the challenges. Once again, Clemens scurried away dragging his tail. Pedro struck out 12 over seven innings of shutout ball. Along the way, he handed the Yankees the only loss they would get in the ’99 postseason
6. October 25, 2007. Colorado Rockies vs. Boston Red Sox.
Game 2 of the 2007 World Series. After the drubbing the Red Sox gave the Rockies in Game One of the 2007 World Series, we were ready for blood as we sat down in Game 2. Ubaldo Jimenez vs Curt Schilling certainly seemed like an epic mismatch. As it turned out, the Rockies actually led in this game for a bit. But, so timely hitting and good pitching let the Sox prevail, and take a 2-0 World Series lead.
5. October 23, 2004. St. Louis Cardinals vs. Boston Red Sox.
This was game one of the 2004 World Series. The Sox were finally back in the Fall Classic. Would this finally be the year? While this would rank pretty high due to mystique alone, the game itself was an absolute nail-biter. The Sox couldn’t hold a lead. Finally, Mark Bellhorn clanked one off the Pesky Pole for a lead the Sox would finally hold. They were on their way.
4. October 17, 2004. New York Yankees vs. Boston Red Sox.
Game four of the ALCS. The Key to it all. Without this win, the seven that followed it don't happen. The Sox don't win the World Series in 2004. Who knows what happens after that? Plus, this was a great game. An epic steal. A blown save. A walk-off home run. It had it all.
3. July 13, 1999. National League vs. American League.
Yup. It's an exhibition game. But, what a game! What a pre-game! The ceremony celebrating the top 100 players of all-time would rank this game pretty high on its own. The Ted Williams entrance would put it near the top. When Pedro came out and embarrassed the National League, you get the number two game on my list. All-Stars everywhere, and Pedro making it look like they should be in Little League. I still get chills.
2. October 19, 2013. Detroit Tigers vs. Boston Red Sox.
Game six of the ALCS. My first ever clincher. It was always the thing missing from my attendance resume. I had never seen the Red Sox clinch anything while I was in the park. I saw the Yankees clinch the division. I’ve seen the Yankees clinch the American League. But, nothing like that for the Sox. Until this game. On top of that, it was a pretty exciting game, with Victorino hitting the late grand slam to seal the deal. Staying late to watch the postgame ceremony was just icing on the cake.
1. October 30, 2013. St. Louis Cardinals vs. Boston Red Sox.
Game six of the World Series. Not long after my first clincher, I saw my second clincher the very next time I went to the park. If this isn’t the top on anyone’s list...I can’t imagine what would be. For the only time in the last 100 years or so, the Red Sox won the World Series at Fenway Park. To see the team all pile onto the field was something out of a dream. The game probably wasn’t as close as we thought it was. But, when you’re counting outs starting in the first inning, this get a little tense. Thankfully Koji was able to finish it off.
Well, there's my updated list.