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Ground Hog Day, 2003

by Paul Hunt

The outlook wasn't brilliant when the Red Sox went to work;
The series stood three games to two, with the last games in New York.
We faced Pettitte and Roger Clemens on his last tour around the circuit,
And before we could pitch Pedro we had to send out Johnny Burkett.

The newcomers to Red Sox Nation were amazed at our deep despair.
"This team is different from the past; there is something different in the air."
But the faithful know that with the Sox there's never another way,
The names and faces may be new but in the end it's Ground Hog Day.

Game Six started as expected, though Torre showed Pettite the door,
Burkett was gone, the crowd was loud, and the Sox trailed 6-4.
But Nomar had surprised us by snapping out of his postseason woe,
And he scored a fifth run for the Sox on a triple and a wild throw.

Manny preceded Ortiz and the Sox finally "moved the line,"
And when Trot's ninth inning blast reached the upper deck, the Sox took it 6-9.
It was the highlight of the season, we would later learn,
But at that moment all of us to Game 7 had to turn.

Upon followers of the team did a curious feeling fall;
A win would finally Reverse the Curse, but a loss would be the worst of all.
There was still time to suspend belief, not watch or other things,
That have served to protect us all these years when the Sox didn't get their rings.

But Trot crushed an early homer, to the wonderment of all.
And Millar, who to date had not done much, put a charge into a Clemens ball.
Pedro silenced the hecklers by twirling inning after inning,
And much to the surprise of Yankee fans, the Red Sox indeed were winning.

The game continued with just a blip or two when Giambi hit a couple late,
But Pedro glared, struck Soriano out, and we headed to inning eight.
When Ortiz blasted a homer to begin that fateful frame,
Even those of us who expect the worst began to believe this was the game.

Though this was indeed New York, where even safer games have gone awry,
One look along the Yankee bench showed they knew their end was nigh.
A three-run lead into the eighth should prove to be sufficient,
For weeks Timlin and Williamson had proved more than just efficient.

Across beautiful New England, from hill to sea, eyes watched the screen,
Here we were, on all new ground, which none of our fathers had ever seen.
Six outs to go with a three-run lead, we thought, this is good enough for me,
They'll have the 26 rings to polish but we'll savor this one memory.

Then after some commercials that we nervously waited through,
A sight which will live in infamy appeared for us to view,
A mistake, we knew, without a doubt, a sure path to a loss,
It was clear to even casual viewers, all but the Red Sox boss.

They'll blow it now, they surely will, though we were sure the past was behind us,
But that voice that always comes into our heads returned at once to remind us.
It pounded through our heads, and we recoiled from the sound;
For Pedro, stubborn Pedro, was advancing to the mound.

The rest of the game belonged to the Yankees for to win is their destiny,
Much of what happened after that had to be relayed to me.
I stuck with it till Jeter crushed a ball, surely that would be it for our proud starter,
But Grady never moved a muscle and my heart just beat harder and harder.

I missed the late innings, or most of them, just like in '86,
I paced around in the next room wondering why it always comes to this.
It's just a game, players come and go, it's a bat and a ball and a glove,
But why, oh why, do the Red Sox have to break the hearts of the ones who love?

I guess there are New York fans who'll remember every play as thrilling,
But Stephen King, in all his books, never wrote a script so chilling.
Sure, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright.
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.
And somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout,
But there is no joy in Boston:
Grady didnít take Pedro out.

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Copyright © Paul Hunt. Printed with permission of the author.