Yogi Berra famously said, “It’s like déjà vu, all over again.” This 2013 Boston Red Sox team seems to have a lot of 2004 in them. Rather than a group of so-called “idiots”, it’s a bunch of Bunyanesque ballplayers providing the walk-off magic. Time to fear the beard.
Player wise only one Red Sock remains from that 2004 curse killing World Series champion – David Ortiz. Who can ever forget Big Papi’s late game heroics in the ’04 ALCS that left the Yankees loser’s? It’s a sight that never gets old and cemented Ortiz as one of Boston’s all-time sports icons.
Let’s run down a few names from that ’04 team and see if we can find their 2013 counterpart.
Kevin Millar was the shot pouring, cowboy upping, ring leader of that 2004 team. His walk against Mariano Rivera in game four allowed Dave Roberts to steal the most famous base in Sox history and began the most ultimate in comebacks. Millar will never have to buy a drink in Boston again.
This year’s cowboy would have to be Jonny Gomes. Like Millar, Gomes won’t jump off the stat sheet, but he’s got plenty of personality and clutch in him. The tattooed Gomes has three walk-off hits, leads the league in pinch-hit home runs and has flashed some left field leather this season. He’s the death defying, helmet punter that always seems in the middle of it.
The original dirt dog, Trot Nixon, was hurt most of the 2004 season, but added two insurance runs with a two-out double in the game deciding fourth game against the Card's in the World Series.
The 2013 dirt dog may not get as grimy, but Shane Victorino patrols right field with the same reckless abandon that made Nixon a Fenway favorite. The Flyin’ Hawaiian is certainly living up to his nickname, however he may need to start playing with a crash helmet.
Johnny Damon was the first bearded idiot of the bunch. Damon's most memorable moment of 2004 was his grand slam in Game 7 of the ALCS against the Yankees to help complete the first 3-0 comeback in baseball history. He added another home run in that game, and another in Game 4 of the World Series. The next year he was a Yankee.
Jacoby Ellsbury may not have the same flowing locks, but there’s similarities to Damon. The speed/power combo, the good glove/weak arm, the love from the ladies. And like Johnny, Jacoby may be the next Sox center fielder to sport the pinstripes.
In 2004, Mark Bellhorn led the league with 177 strikeouts. However, Bellhorn hit a three-run homer in game six against the Yanks, hit another in game seven and went deep again in game one of the World Series. Bellhorn was the first second baseman ever to homer in three consecutive postseason games.
Mike Napoli leads the American League with 144 strike outs, but has a knack for the clutch. Napoli is currently top ten among AL first basemen in home runs, RBI, OPS, SLG and OPS. The defense isn't great, but it’s good enough. Napoli may actually be Bellhorn with a beard. Have you ever seen the two together?
Curt Schilling rolled into Boston in 2004 and promised the Sox a title. Mission accomplished. Schilling will forever be known for the "bloody sock" game, which was Game 6 of the ALCS. He won that game and did his part in the World Series, winning Game 2.
Jake Peavy is also a veteran, hard throwing right-hander with a bulldog mentality. Could Peavy put the Sox over the top much like Schilling did in ’04? Someone get him a bottle of Heinz in October.
Closer Keith Foulke appeared in 11 of the 14 playoff games in '04. Foulke racked up 19 strikeouts and over the entire stretch would allow exactly one earned run. Foulke was on the mound when the final out was made and he flipped a routine grounder to first thus clinching the Red Sox' first World Series Championship in 86 years.
Koji Uehara has displayed Foulkian-like dominance. Koji is 2-0 with 10 saves, a 1.40 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 50 innings. In his last 11 appearances, Koji has given up just three hits. If you think Uehara is dangerous now, imagine a Koji high five after a World Series win.
2004 was Bronson Arroyo’s first season in the majors. He went 10-9 with a 4.03 ERA. He didn't quite make the cut for the postseason rotation, but made two relief appearances in the World Series.
Rookie Brandon Workman could be this year’s Bronson. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 3.54 ERA and is likely headed to the 'pen. But can he play guitar is the real question?
It's the idiots versus the beards. Cowboy up versus walk-off city.
There’s certainly similarities between the 2004 team and this year’s Red Sox. While 2013 may have that ’04 vibe about it, the big difference right now is the World Series banner flying above Fenway Park.
The Fenway Faithful cannot wait for September to roll around to see if history repeats itself.