Throwback Thursday: When the 2004 Red Sox Were Sure to Lose

Ten years ago today, the Red Sox's odds of winning the 2004 World Series looked non-existent.

Associated Press

Associated Press

Ten years ago today, the Red Sox were about to blow yet another shot at reversing their curse. Anyone but the most deluded optimist would have told you so.

On October 16, 2004, the Red Sox faced the Yankees in Game 3 of the American League Championship Series. The Sox had lost the first two games at Yankee Stadium, and this was their chance to reclaim momentum on their home turf. For a moment, it looked like they might. In the second inning, the Red Sox led 4-3. The Yankees pulled ahead, but the Sox tied them with 6-6 in the third. It was a close game.

Until it wasn’t. In the fourth inning, the Yankees took an 11-6 lead. By the end of the game, they led 19-8. It was so definitive a rout that it was almost comical. The best of seven series now stood at 3-0, Yankees.

“In this sport, that is an official death sentence,” Globe columnist Bob Ryan wrote, not unreasonably. Columnists and fans alike assumed that the official end of the series was just a mere formality, like declaring a time of death after executing a man by guillotine. For all intents and purposes, this thing was already done. If fate didn’t come in Game 4, it would find us in Game 5. “I had convinced myself—yes, I’ll say it—that this really was The Year,” Ryan moaned. “What, dare I say it, idiots we all were.”

God, how fun is it to read those words in hindsight? It’s like getting high on dramatic irony. But you can’t blame Bob Ryan. Who could have predicted that the Red Sox would make history by wining four games in a row to come back from a 3-0 deficit? Maybe if we hadn’t lost Game 3 in such spectacular fashion, someone might have thought it doable. But that 19-8 scoreboard had seemed like pretty definitive proof.

Looking back now, the 2004 ALCS feels fated. Of course this is how it was going to happen. It’s the kind of thing that’s so neat and tidy that if you scripted it for a movie, it would feel cheesy and unbelievable. But on October 16, 2004, the only thing that seemed fated was another disappointment. What idiots we all were.