Tuesday, January 05, 2010


There are certainly instances of teams and players choking that stand-out. But the most painful is one I've tried very hard to forget. I'm talking, of course, about Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS.

If not for the World Series title 370 days later, I wouldn't be able to relive this moment. I was drinking heavily in my friend's dorm room at Fairfield University, a mere 42 miles from the Bronx.

A 4-0 lead, chipped away by Giambi homeruns. Then the 8th inning, the Sox up 5-2 thanks to an Ortiz homer, Pedro Martinez at exactly 100 pitches. Only 6 outs from the pennant, Grady Little decided to let Pedro start the 8th.

Pop-out, then a double. Pedro now at 110 pitches and starting to show it. Embree and Timlin, both lights out in the playoffs, available in the pen. Bernie Williams hits a single, knocks in Jeter. Pedro at 115 pitches. 5-3 Sox. Matsui hits a ground-rule double.

So Pedro is now at 118 pitches. He's allowed two doubles, a single, and a run in this inning. Runners on 2nd and 3rd. And he's still on the mound to face Posada. Posada hits a double, knocks in 2 runs. Now Pedro's relieved, Embree gets an out, then Timlin gets the final out of the inning.

The game goes to 11, and we know what happened then.

Perhaps 18-1 was more monumental of a choke, but nothing else compares to the pain of this collapse.

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