As the Yankees play the Red Sox again tonight in Fenway Park, we look upon this ugly age-old rivalry in the TV documentary “Four Days in October” (2010), part of ESPN Film’s “30 for 30” documentary series.
The title, of course, refers to those four days a decade ago: when the Boston Red Sox beat the New York Yankees, taking home the 2004 American League Championship Series title after an 86-year drought. Their last win prior to that was in 1918.
Then in 1920, Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold outfielder/pitcher George Herman “Babe” Ruth to the Yankees for $125,000. That’s how the “Curse of the Bambino” began.
Directed by Gary Waksman, “Four Days in October” walks us through a perfect storm of events. Boston won four straight games against their arch-nemesis.
“You start thinking about winning four games against the Yankees, that’s kind of daunting,” says former Red Sox manager Terry Francona. “You think about just beating them once — that’s tough enough.”
It’s a made-for-movie moment, but that’s not all it is, says Waksman.
“’Four days in October’ isn’t just about the 2004 ALCS come-from-behind win by the Boston Red Sox. It’s about a transformation — a transformation of their fan-base — from the lovable losers to downtrodden fans of Red Sox nation to all-of-a-suddenly four-day winners,” he says.
Up until those four days, the Red Sox had lost their first three games. But in Game 4 during the bottom of the 9th, the Sox bounced back.
“If there’s a group of idiots who can do it, it’s the Sox,” says former Red Sox’s first baseman Kevin Millar.
First, there was the walk by Millar; then, a steal from pinch-runner Dave Roberts.
“When you’re in the moment, everything’s just quiet,” says Roberts. “[Yankees’ pitcher] Mariano [Rivera] held the ball on me. He held and held and held and it seemed like an eternity.”
That eternity was a lifeline.
Third baseman Bill Mueller hit an RBI, bringing Roberts home.
Then David “Big Papi” Ortiz hits the ball into the deep right field during the 12th.
In the next couple of days, the Red Sox won again and again.
In Game 5, the Sox won another antagonizing game against the Yankees.
“From inning 8 to 14, it was like having open heart surgery,” says Boston sports writer Bill Simmons.
Game 6 was a lesson in resilience. The story: Curt Schilling’s pitching despite a bloody ankle injury.
“I was concerned about the fact that I couldn’t feel my shoe,” says Schilling.
Although the story’s certainly cinematic, Waksman’s documentary plays out like an extended highlight reel. The co-anchors at the bar are Simmons and Boston comedian Lenny Clarke (they’re not very funny, but they’re passionate about the Red Sox).
Rather than provide context to the sports illiterate, Simmons and Clarke chat like a couple of old college buddies, reminiscing about those four-day keggers. Sure, those were the good old days, but there’ve been plenty of parties since then.
The Sox won the ALCS title again in 2007 and 2013.
“Four Days in October” was directed by Gary Waksman.
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