10/27/2004 6:28 PM ET
World Series Game 4 Hot Sheet
A look at topics of note prior to Wednesday's game
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
|Derek Lowe has a chance to help Boston snap an 86-year World Series title drought. (James Finley/AP)
ST. LOUIS -- The Red Sox and Cardinals play Game 4 of the World Series at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Busch Stadium, with Boston one victory away from ending the 2004 Major League Baseball season and its 86-year drought of world championships. Here is what people around the Series are talking about:
1. Ready for an emotional release
"It's been such a long time coming -- it's overwhelming right now," said Ed Brickley, 69, of Winchester, Mass., who was waiting anxiously with his son amid a moving scene of Red Sox fans outside Busch a few hours before gametime.
"You have to pinch yourself to realize it's really happening. Most of us have never been in this position all our lives. You think of Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, Yaz, Jim Lonberg, Luis Tiant and on and on -- and I'll put Nomar (Garciaparra) in that category, too. ... So many people in Boston have said, 'Just win one before I die.' Well, the undertakers in Boston might do phenomenal business now."
2. A shakeup in St. Louis
Cardinals manager Tony La Russa is shaking up his lineup for Game 4. Tony Womack returns to his season-long leadoff spot for the first time since Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, and Edgar Renteria moves back down to the No. 6 spot in the order. More unexpected was the decision to replace left fielder Reggie Sanders with John Mabry (batting seventh) and replace catcher Mike Matheny with rookie Yadier Molina.
"John, if you pulled his numbers when he started games, gave us a lift often," La Russa explained. "I just wanted to make a switch, because I think Reggie's taken one of the most comfortable 0-fers in World Series history." He also said Molina has worked well as a batterymate with Game 4 starter Jason Marquis, who has struggled lately.
3. Capturing Cardinal sentiment
It is customary for the starting pitchers of the subsequent game to appear in the media interview room before the present day's game, and Cardinals right-hander Woody Williams knew that his appearance in there Wednesday could be a moot point. But he went out of his way to candidly send a message to Cardinal fans during one of the most lopsided Fall Classics in recent memory: "They're intelligent baseball fans, they see the way we're playing, and I know it must be disgusting to them. ... It's such a dream for all of us to get here. We just haven't played the way we're capable of and we have to go out and get this done."
4. Blood Moon rising
According to NASA, the final eclipse of the year will begin at 9:14 ET tonight -- or just after the start of the game. This lunar eclipse somehow seems appropriate for this particular World Series, too -- with the Red Sox on the brink of ending the Curse of the Bambino. As the moon glides through the Earth's shadow, it will go from a pale and cold appearance to blood red. Folklore says it was called a "Blood Moon" or "Hunter's Moon" because hunters would track and kill their pray by autumn moonlight, stockpiling food for the winter ahead. Although it will be mostly cloudy tonight in St. Louis, the Blood Moon will be visible all around Red Sox Nation.
5. A day in the life, Part XV.
Boston manager Terry Francona said he realizes the magnitude of what the Red Sox are on the verge of doing, but the King of the Comebacks said he is not thinking about it. "For about the 15th time in a row, we're trying to win tonight," he said. "We're competing. It's not the time. We need to go out and beat the St. Louis Cardinals, and that's how you win a game." Asked if he is "fighting" the temptation to think about the big picture, he said, "I'm not fighting it. It just doesn't help."
6. Not exactly Enos Slaughter's 'Mad Dash'
Many people are talking about Jeff Suppan's baserunning gaffe in Game 3, when the Cardinal chose not to run home on Larry Walker's grounder to the right side because he thought he heard third-base coach Jose Oquendo say "No, no no!" instead of "Go, go go!"
St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz compared it to Bill Buckner's error that cost Boston the 1986 Fall Classic. Jon Miller said in his ESPN play-by-play call that it was "the worst baserunning in history." Dan Patrick and Rob Dibble, both speaking on ESPN Radio, called that a "stretch" and considered Lonnie Smith's baserunning blunder in the 1991 World Series far more costly. David Justice, a member of the Braves team that lost to the Twins in a seven-game classic, said on that show Wednesday that had Smith not been deked rounding second back then, "we would've won the series."
But Justice added: "Suppan's was big. It took the crowd out of the game, and they were in position to get a couple of runs without even getting a hit."
7. Maybe it was the Bambino
Maybe what Suppan was really hearing on third base was "No, No, Nanette" -- a voice of a ghost, the musical that Red Sox owner Harry Frazee needed to fund when he decided to sell Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920.
8. Playing a big what-if
J.T. the Brick, speaking on his overnight FOX Sports Radio national show, said he thinks the Cardinals -- with no starters who have lasted out the fifth inning in this series -- are paying the price now for not acquiring Randy Johnson from Arizona before the last trading deadline. It might be a stretch to think that the Cardinals could have landed Larry Walker and the Big Unit, but here's what The Brick said: "I said they needed Johnson and look what happened. Imagine if they had Randy Johnson for Games 1, 4 and 7. They thought they had enough -- I screamed that they needed him."
9. The home-field factor
This could be the second year in a row that a team clinches on opposing turf, but either way there will be Cardinal fans who wonder why a Wild Card had home-field advantage over the team with the game's best record. MLB management and the players' union are expected to revisit the second-year rule that gives the winning All-Star league this edge in the World Series. "We had a better record than Anaheim and we were on the road to play them," Francona said of the AL Division Series. "You need to win wherever you play. We just follow the rule."
10. Man on fire
Tim Wakefield, hoping he doesn't have to start a Game 5, was asked what he thinks Boston will be like if the Red Sox win. "I think the city's gonna be on fire," he said. Then he thought for a moment and added: "Not literally. The passion is so great in Boston. For us to win for the city of Boston will mean so much for people who have supported the team for so many years."
Mark Newman is enterprise editor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.