By Ryan Divish
Here's a quick quiz: What's the difference between the Boston Red Sox and a Canadian slow pitch softball team?
Boston's uniforms all match.
Honestly, have you ever seen a scruffier, hairier, dysfunctional bunch of winners in your life?
That's right, I said winners. After last night's 10-3 win over the New York Yankees, this motley crew of baseball vagabonds has, for the time being, moved all talk of curses, bad luck and misfortune into the past tense.
What the Red Sox have done - rallying from a 3-0 deficit to win the American League Championship Series - is simply improbable and unbelievable
Why? Because it was the Yankees who were up 3-0.
Why? Because it was the Red Sox, a team destined to be bridesmaids to the Yankees' bride.
Why? Because it has never been done before in baseball. You know how long never is in baseball. Longer than a Tim McCarver rant about absolutely nothing in general. Actually, in close to 100 years of postseason baseball nothing like this has happened.
Seriously, since the inception of the seven-game series format, no major league baseball team has ever gotten down 3-0 and come back and won a series. That would be 138 seven-game series to be exact. Actually, no team had ever won three games straight to force a game 7 until the Red Sox did it the other night.
Do you understand how difficult something like this is? Especially against a team like the Yankees - a team set up specifically for winning the world series every season. You would think $194 million payroll could pretty much sew up a World Series appearance, but not so against a bunch of players who look like they couldn't scrounge up $10 for a haircut.
Look, you don't have to be a Red Sox fan, or even a baseball fan, to appreciate this accomplishment.
Only twice in the history of modern sports has a team come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a seven-game series. It happened in the National Hockey League in 1942 and 1975 when the Toronto Maple Leafs and the New York Islanders accomplished the feat. But that's hockey. Is hockey even a sport anymore? When does the season even start?
This is completely and totally different. We're talking Red Sox/Yankees. The curse of the Bambino, Bucky "bleeping" Dent, Aaron "Bleeping" Boone. We're talking history dating back to the early 1900s.
Something like this never happens to the Red Sox. Usually it happens to the Yankees.
Ask yourself this question: If the roles were reversed and it was New York rallying from a three-game deficit in almost improbable fashion with last at-bat wins in three of the four games, would you be surprised?
This is the type of the thing that the Yankees are famous for, rallying in the face of elimination, while it is the Red Sox that are known to be choking dogs and gagging stiffs.
But what does it all mean?
Well, for starters it means some things are going change in New York. George Steinbrenner can't stand losing, particularly to the Red Sox.
To steal a line from Seinfeld: "Big Stein's getting angry."
Only it won't be George Costanza losing his job. If you look closely at the Yankees' roster, you have to wonder, what exactly did they get for $194 million?
Honestly, they got their own walking playoff jinx in Alex Rodriguez, who has yet to make it past the ALCS. They got Kevin Brown, who managed to pitch 1 innings last night, allowing five runs on four hits, all with his hand firmly around his throat. Pedro Martinez didn't get booed nearly as bad as Brown did when he walked off the field. Don't forget about Jason Giambi, who might be the league's highest paid cheerleader. Giambi had a tumor removed from his thyroid earlier in the season and physically couldn't be ready for the playoffs.
But it isn't just the high-priced stars who hurt New York. The Yankees' traditionally deep bench has been reduced to Kenny Lofton, Bubba Crosby and Tony Clark. Lofton and Clark might be 175 years old combined, while Crosby is not much more than a role player at best. The same could be said for the Yankees' bullpen, besides Mariano Rivera and Tom Gordon. I'm sorry but Tanyon Sturtze, Paul Quantrill and Felix Heredia don't exactly strike fear into opposing batters.
There will be wholesale changes to the Yankees' roster, starting with Brown. It's highly doubtful that manager Joe Torre or general manager Brian Cashman will be fired, but you really don't know how Steinbrenner is going to react to all of this. He may ship Cashman to the Tyson Chicken factory in exchange for a truckload of chicken (another Seinfeld reference).
Still, for every fault you find with the Yankees, you have to find a compliment for the Red Sox. Down 3-0, it would have been easy for the Sox to mail it in. Hey they're professional athletes, they're not perfect. They knew what they were up against. Yet, Boston never seemed to really understand it. Kind of like how the Sox players didn't understand personal hygiene.
I don't know what would get sent back at you quicker, a bar of soap and a razor or a 93-mile per hour fastball.
It's easy to mock their appearance. I know I have done it myself. I found myself singing the Soul Glo song from "Coming to America" every time Pedro pitched. I've called Johnny Damon, Captain Caveman and "The Passion of the Christ." I have mocked Manny Ramirez' fielding ability or total lack there of, and his inability to grasp what the score is at any given point in the game.
There is more to the Red Sox than their goofy appearance. They don't always play baseball the right way, as evidenced by their total inability to lay down a sacrifice bunt in a key situation. However, they believe in the way they play the game. They make no excuses or apologies. They are not clean-cut or clean-coiffed like the Yankees. More importantly, they don't want to be. Maybe that's what it took to finally beat their nemesis - be totally, completely and brazenly opposite from them.
It's been a magical ride so far for this group of cutups and castoffs. And it will continue on Saturday when they play in the World Series for the first time since 1986.
Not bad for a wannabe Canadian slow pitch softball team.