For those Red Sox fans who can’t shake the old habit of constantly looking for bad omens, dark clouds and other harbingers of impending doom, we have some distressing news for you.
Dave McGillivray is going to be running into Fenway Park today, replicating the last leg of his epic jog across the United States.
To Sox fans of a certain age, this is nightmare material. They may remember the Medford native performing a cross-country jog back in 1978, and that on Aug. 29 of that year he completed his journey by emerging from the garage door in the left-field corner at Fenway Park and doing a couple of loops around the yard as the festive, late-summer mob roared its approval. As he passed the first-base dugout someone tossed him a Red Sox cap — he later learned it was Sox closer Bill Campbell — and he then touched down at home plate. Mission accomplished.
Later that night, George “Boomer” Scott belted one of his patented taters, this one a grand slam, as the Sox rolled to a 10-5 victory over the Seattle Mariners.
“And it all went downhill right after that,” said McGillivray yesterday, sounding a little sheepish.
He’s right. The ’78 Sox promptly lost 14 of their next 18 games, including four straight to the Yankees in what has come to be known as the Boston Massacre. Though the Sox righted the ship and played exemplary baseball the last couple of weeks of the season, they still lost that one-game playoff against the Yankees.
Could it happen again? One thing we know for sure is that the machine-like McGillivray, now 64, will today touch home plate at Fenway Park to remind us of what he did in ’78. As he proudly puts it, and well that he should, the run is “all about goodwill and raising money for the Jimmy Fund.”
Yet when the Red Sox punched in for work last night to continue their much-anticipated series against Terry Francona’s Cleveland Indians, they were the not-so-proud owners of only their second three-game losing streak of the season. And their lead over the second-place Yankees in the American League East, which was 10 1⁄2 games as recently as last Saturday, had dropped to eight games and only seven games in the loss column.
Did we mention that the Sox still have six games remaining against the Yankees?
As McGillivray commemorates the 40th anniversary of his run across America, is there a commemorative re-staging of the Boston Massacre in the Red Sox’ future?
Manager Alex Cora was the picture of calm and composure following Tuesday night’s loss to the Indians. But it’s not like he could leave it all behind and whistle happy tunes on the way home. His phone wouldn’t let him.
“I have people around the league who are, like, wow, a three-game losing streak,” he said.
“A.J. was one of them,” Cora said, referring to Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch. “But you know what? The way I see it, if this is only the second three-game losing streak for us, we’re in a good place. At the same time, and I’ve been saying this all along, we’ll play ’til Sept. 1, and when we get there we will know what we have to do.”
Of course. If the Sox’ lead is back up to a nice, fat double digits, Manager Alex and his coaching staff will start whispering about postseason rosters and pitching assignments.
If they’re still just seven up in the loss column, start planning for those all-important three-game sets against the Yankees, one of them in the Bronx, the other at Fenway Park to close out the regular season.
As for that innocent-sounding comment that injured lefty Chris Sale made the other day about how this is “the best team that’s ever walked the planet,” let’s remember that this team has won nothing yet.
That’s right: Nothing. Yes, they toppled the Indians last night, 10-4, and they may well post the best regular-season won-loss record in Sox history, but let’s keep in mind that this is Boston. As in in the Pats, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins combining for 10 championships in this still-young century.
Yes, the Sox likely will win the AL East. They also won it last year. And the year before that.
Has this season been . . . special?