This is the third in an occasional series of Sneak Peeks from Feeding the Monster. The section below takes place on Thursday, October 16, 2003, in the seventh game of the 2003 American League Championship Series.
When Pedro Martinez returned to the mound in the eighth inning of Game 7, John Henry felt as if he were watching a horror movie. He knew Martinez was spent; hell, Henry thought, any sentient being watching the game knew the pitcher was cooked. He looked over at [Theo] Epstein, sitting a couple of sections away, and the two men caught each other’s eye. Epstein gave a little shrug, as if to say, “I don’t know what he’s doing out there, either.” Martinez got the first batter to pop up to shortstop, putting Boston five outs away from victory, and a trip to the World Series. Then, in an instant, the Yankees bats began lashing at Martinez’s pitches. Derek Jeter sized up a shoulder-high 0-2 fastball and smacked it into right field, where Trot Nixon misplayed a catchable ball into a double. With Bernie Williams at the plate, even the TV announcers were saying that, regardless of what happened here, Alan Embree would likely come in to face the left-handed Hideki Matsui, who was on deck. Williams hit a sharp single to center, scoring Jeter. 5-3.
Now, finally, Grady Little shuffled out of the dugout and over to the mound, where he conferred with Martinez. In his seat, Henry was beside himself. At least, he reassured himself, there’s still a two-run lead and Martinez was finally coming out of the game. The, inexplicably, Little walked back to the dugout alone, leaving Martinez on the mound to face the dangerous Matsui. Henry turned to Larry Lucchino. “Can we fire [Little] right now?” Henry asked.
What was John Henry’s reaction when the Red Sox lost the game? How did the collapse in Game 7 effect the team’s offseason? Find out the answers to these questions, along with details about Pedro Martinez’s contract negotiations and the fallout after his departure, in Feeding the Monster, out July 11 from Simon & Schuster.