It's official: Julia and I should just not watch games together. She came to my house this time to watch tonight's game, and as it teetered on that fine line between watershed victory and devastating loss in extra innings, we thought perhaps we'd turned our own personal curse around.
But it was not to be.
Afterwards, Julia said, "We can never go to the ballpark together."
"Because a gigantic eagle would swoop in and take Jonathan Papelbon," she said. "Manny Delcarmen would be shot full of arrows."
And then we both laughed our asses of. Proof we're still in the "denial" stage with this one.
I just don't know. It's hard to know how to actually feel after a game like that. No doubt it was a soul-killing loss, but it was also an absolute flawless gem of a game through more than nine innings. A game marked by the 1000th strikeout for Johan Santana and the 3000th career inning for Curt Schilling, and a game that was the straight-up pitchers' duel it was hoped it would be through eight and a bullpen barn-burner through several more. By the end, it was clearly a two-man battle on a par with a boxing match, and both pitchers were bellowing "Cut me!" Rocky-style. It can't be said that either was the loser in their duel.
And the fielding plays that marked both sides...I can't say that when Alex Gonzalez beat out a double-play throw following a ridiculous lateral flip from the Twins shortstop to the second baseman for one out in the ninth, allowing the then go-ahead run to score, I didn't attain total baseball Nirvana. It was a beautiful, rare game, a memorable game no matter what the final result.
In the end, though, it was a game that reminded me of July 1, 2004, a game that I watched with both appreciation and a kind of subconscious dread, knowing that it would stick with me, for better or for worse, a game following which I feel (and Julia agreed) that NESN should flash the Samaritans hotline number on the screen during the postgame show and beseech Bostonians not to do anything rash.
After the fact, having learned that the Yankees won to tie us again for first place, I can say it's feeling more and more like we've witnessed a milestone game. The only consolation for me right now is that July 1, 2004 felt the same way, and we all know what happened that year.