Boston's world on verge of big change

BOB ELLIOTT -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:02 AM ET

At about midnight tonight they could be playing more hockey in hell than in NHL rinks.

Flames will instantly freeze and the smooth surface will look as if 25 Zambonis had worked on it.

The Boston Red Sox are a win away from a World Series.

We typed those words in 1986. Someone else typed them in 1975, 1967 and 1946.

This is not 1986. Or any other year when the Sox lost in Game 7 of the Series.

The Sox, very good at breaking hearts and creating ulcers, are almost home and cooled out ... with champagne.

Tonight could mark their first World Series title since 1918 -- the year Ted Williams was born -- when Babe Ruth was in the rotation.

"I've only been here two years, what about people who cheered for the Sox for 50 years," Kevin Millar said. "How great would it be for them? All those 1918 signs when we go to Yankee Stadium?

"They'll have to tear them up. When's the last time New York won the World Series? 2000? We may chant '2000, 2000.' "

What happens when New Englanders wake up after winning a Series? Will funeral parlours be over-run with business, all those elderly Sox fans hanging on "until the Sox won."

The St. Louis Cardinals, resembling triple-A Memphis, could argue they have the Sox where they want them: Down 3-0 in the best-of-seven Series.

That plan proved successful for the Sox against the New York Yankees in the ALCS didn't it?

Boston was three outs away from being swept with Yankees closer Mariano Rivera on the mound. The Sox won four in a row.

"Having the fact we overcame a 3-0 deficit fresh in our minds will keep us focused," Millar said. "They're capable of doing the same to us. We have to keep our foot on their throats and score early like we did (last night)."

Manny Ramirez slugged a Jeff Suppan pitch into the left-field seats with two-out in the first. Cards starters have allowed first-inning runs in 11 of the previous 14 games, including nine in a row. Are they warming up in the bullpen or on the mound?

Let's see, manager Tony La Russa has managed teams, each one with the best record in baseball, in four World Series:

- One win in 1988 when the Los Angeles Dodgers swept the Oakland A's.

- Four wins in 1989 when the A's swept the San Francisco Giants, as La Russa needed only two starters, Dave Stewart and Mike Moore, since an earthquake caused a 12 day delay between Games 2 and 3.

- Zero wins in 1990.

- Zero wins in this one.

That's five wins in four Series. In the sweep of the Giants, La Russa's team scored 32 runs. In the other games, he's 1-11 and his teams have scored 31 times.

"Like Terry Francona said when he was down 3-0, 'we have to win one game,' " La Russa said. "We can win one game."

Going back to Enos Slaughter, Marty Marion, Lou Brock, Willie McGee, Keith Hernandez and Tommy Herr, the Cards always have played sound fundamental baseball.

This was not the Cardinal way: Jim Edmonds swung at a pitch out of the zone and flew to left after Pedro Martinez walked two loading the bases in the first.

Larry Walker was then gunned down on a strong throw by Ramirez, who in Game 2 couldn't catch a cold.

Trailing 1-0 in the third, the Cards had men on second and third. Boston played the infield back. Walker bounced to second. With Mark Bellhorn on the edge of the grass, it looked like it would be 1-1.

Suppan broke, stopped, broke for home as third base coach Jose Oquendo waved wildly and stopped. Proving again pitchers are not athletes, Suppan was in no man's land without a ham sandwich and tried to retreat.

David Ortiz, never be mistaken for Don Mattingly, threw to Bill Mueller for the routine 4-3-5 double play.

Hello down there.

Gentlemen, sharpen your skates.


Videos

Photos