Payback is a …well, painful thing

It may have taken the Angels 23 years to get payback, but they did it. It may not be as painful as it was 23 years ago but you can’t convince Red Sox fans of that, nor Jonathon Papelbon who, after todays game, sat in front of his locker room with his uniform still on for abut 20 minutes, wondering what had just happened and how it happened.

In the 1986 ALCS the Angels led the Red Sox 3 games to one and had a lead in the 9th inning of game 5 before losing that game in extra innings and then losing the next 2 games and the series. Since then the Angels had lost 3 more playoff series to the Red Sox. Today the Red Sox brought back 1986 hero  Dave Henderson back to try and bring back some of the magic. Instead the Angels turned the tables.

In Sundays game 3, the Red Sox led 6-4 in the 9th inning with Jonathan Papelbon on the mound. Papelbon retired the 1st 2 Angels and then had an 0-2 count on #9 hitter Eric Aybar. Aybar singled. Papelbon had 2 strikes on the Angels next batter Chone Figgins, then walked him. Then, again, Papelbon got 2 strikes on Bobby Abreau before Abreau doubled in a run. Tori hunter was intentionally walked and Vlad Guererro singled home the winning run.

3 times the Red Sox and Jonathan Papelbon were 1 strike away from a win. If that sounds familiar, it should. The Angels were one strike away from closing out the Red Sox in ’86. Then in the World Series against the Mets the Red Sox, were, of course, one strike away from winning it all. That demon has been exorcised. The Angels demon had not been exorcised, until today. And now Jonathan Papelbon and Red Sox nation have an entire off season to think about it.

You probably don’t want to hear that the Angels are a fun and very professional team with a fine manager. They are also playing this season with a very heavy heart since the tragic and untimely death of one of their young pitchers, Nick Adenhart, in a traffic accident the 1st week of the season. If you can’t root for the Red Sox, this is a good team to follow. Add to that the fact that they play the Yankees next and that alone is reason enough to root for the Angels.

Meanwhile, Red Sox fans are having a tough time realizing that their season is over. Feel for Jonathan Papelbon who has not had to deal with many setbacks in his professional life. He did in this game and, as he said, it will serve as motivation this off season to make him work harder. The image of him sitting in front of his locker for a long long time, and just staring is an image that I will not forget.

-MD

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