Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Box Score Stories: The Clemens and Canseco Effect

20 years ago today the Boston Red Sox acquired Jose Canseco from the Texas Rangers for Otis Nixon and Luis Ortiz. The Red Sox would go on to win the AL East the following season. 1995, was also the last time I would go to Fenway Park with my father.

My father took me to Fenway Park for the first time in 1988, ironically to see the Red Sox take on Jose Canseco and the Oakland A's. We would head to Fenway in 1995 while I was home from college.

We would take in a four game weekend series against the Baltimore Orioles in mid August. The Red Sox were riding a seven game win streak and had a 6.5 game lead in the AL East when we arrived. I was excited that I would get to see Roger Clemens pitch on Saturday but I was not real excited to see Jose Canseco.

Roger Clemens was my boyhood hero. He could do no wrong in my eyes. Jose Canseco was the guy I saw in Fenway in 1988, the guy I helped heckle with the steroid chant along with thousands of other fans in Fenway. He was the opposite of Clemens in my mind. He was a jerk while Clemens was the bright light of baseball. Ironically, they seem like the same guy now. Sadly, they were the same guy back then.

The Red Sox would win on Thursday 11-1 as Canseco would go 3-3 with a homerun.(BoxScore) Hmmm, this Canseco guy was growing on me. He sure did bring excitement when he walked up to the plate.

The Red Sox would win the next night 5-4 in 12 innings on a walk off double by Lee Tinsley. My father and I instantly started calling him "Lee Buck", an ode to Lee Trevino. Canseco would go 3-5.(Box Score) The big lug was starting to grow on me.

The next night was the main event, Roger Clemens vs Mike Mussina. Hall of Famer vs Hall of Famer, only Clemens will probably never make it in and Mussina, who deserves to be in, is not getting the votes and it doesn't look real good for him in the near future.

I have seen Clemens pitch on every one of our trips to Fenway, that takes some luck. This would be the last time I would ever see Clemens pitch in person. He didn't disappoint. The Red Sox would win 7-0. Clemens would pitch seven shutout innings and strike out nine. Canseco? He would go 2-5. (Box Score)

Canseco was now 8-13 in the series. I was officially a Jose Canseco fan. Morals be damned! He suddenly seemed like a good guy now. Weird how that happens.

My father woke up early Sunday morning to get a newspaper and coffee and while he was out he saw a street vendor selling Jose Canseco shirts. He picked one up for me. When he returned to the hotel with it, I was excited. I was definitely going to be wearing it to the series finale.It makes me puke to think about it now,

The series finale took a back seat to news that Mickey Mantle had passed away that morning. The flag in Fenway Park was lowered and there was a moment of silence. It was pretty cool to be in Fenway Park that day. The Red Sox were honoring a rival from the past, an icon. I might have made the comment, "they better do the same damn thing in Yankee Stadium when Ted Williams dies", which of course the Yankees did.

The game? Well, the Red Sox would win 3-2. (Box Score) They would sweep the four game series, extend their winning streak to 11 games and their lead in the AL East was now 9 games. It was the final nail in the Yankees coffin. Rumor is that I may have even said "Mickey is dead and so are the Yanks", I can't confirm nor deny this. Canseco? Oh yeah, he hit a three run homer in the first inning to account for all the Red Sox runs. What a guy! Whatever happened to him?

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