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Four Days in October

After Sunday’s season-ending win over the Yankees, I had the chance to attend a screening of ESPN’s “Four Days in October,” an hour-long documentary on the Red Sox’ comeback in the 2004 ALCS which airs Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 8 pm.  Here’s my take on the film:

Watching “Four Days in October” is like finding the special edition version of your favorite movie. You’ve watched it countless times, memorized the lines to the point where you can recite them along with the movie, and talk about the characters as if they’re not only real but are your close personal friends. And now here it is on DVD, still containing everything you know and love about the movie, but with brand new deleted scenes to discover and commentary from the actors to fill in the back story.

That’s how I felt as I watched the latest installment in ESPN’s “30 for 30” series. Every winter for the past five years I’ve rewatched the final four games of the 2004 ALCS. There’s not much trivia about those games that you can get past me; the scores, the pitchers, and the play-by-play are all easily recalled. But this day-by-day account of the Red Sox’ historic comeback brought a new perspective to the story I know so well, by weaving together just enough game footage to tell the full story, clubhouse antics filmed by the players themselves, and interviews with the games’ participants that made me fall in love with them all over again.

We see David Ortiz dance in the clubhouse after Game 5, shouting, “I’m the (bleeping) curse!” We see Terry Francona shoo Mike Timlin and his camcorder out of his office, telling him, “You’re going to be in the bullpen tonight, seventh inning.” (“Aw,” replies Timlin, “I thought I’d be starting Game 7.”) We hear Curt Schilling take over the intercom on the team plane and announce, “Why not us?” And we see Kevin Millar tell Dan Shaughnessy that anything can happen in a seventh game, adding, “We could even have you out there in Game 7.”

The only parts of the film that seem out of place are the scenes with Bill Simmons and Lenny Clarke. Clarke is over-the-top as usual, but I find him to be tolerable in small doses, and this movie doesn’t cross that threshold. Their scenes are set in a bar, and the pair reminisce with the same “Hey, remember that play?” feel as I would have discussing the game with my co-workers. Still, the player interviews are so humorous and insightful in their own right that they could have easily replaced the Simmons and Clarke spots.

“Four Days in October” is more than just the story of the greatest comeback in the history of sports. For Red Sox fans, it’s an entertaining and funny trip down memory lane, and it premieres at the end of a disappointing 2010 campaign when we could really use an emotional boost. It will certainly become part of my annual off-season viewing routine.

Posted on October 5, 2010 · Permalink · Share on Facebook
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