I just finished watching the screener DVD of Four Days In October, the ESPN 30-For-30 film that makes its debut tomorrow night at 8:00 PM on ESPN.
Despite the presence of Lenny Clarke, I’m glad to say the film is tremendous. Clarke is paired with Bill Simmons at a bar and the film comes back to them at various moments during the one-hour film. In small doses like this, Clarke was OK. He even made me smile a couple times, something I don’t recall doing with Lenny Clarke jokes before.
The film focuses solely on the 96-hour stretch in October of 2004 when the Red Sox came back from a 0-3 deficit to beat the New York Yankees. Starting with Kevin Millar talking to Dan Shaughnessy prior to game four (when Shaughnessy had referred to the Red Sox as “pack of frauds” in his column – a point referenced by Millar) the movie moves quickly, with no narration, just jumping through audio and video clips from those four days.
Along the way, you are reminded just how unsufferable Joe Buck was/is. Even in game seven, he’s making comments, which, knowing now how things turned out, are patently ridiculous, and maddening at the same time. He refused to give up hope in the curse to the very bitter end.
Simmons has taken heat for making the comment that people have forgotten just how huge David Ortiz was in this series. The comment might sound silly on the surface, but watching this film, you get what he meant. It wasn’t just the game-winning hits in games four and five. Ortiz was everywhere in that series. The Yankees were terrified of him like they’ve been of no other Red Sox player. Ever.
There’s plenty about Schilling and the bloody sock in game six, including a look under the bandage, and pregame talk from ESPN talking heads who were dismissive of Schilling’s ability to pitch effectively in the game. There are other details that you forget a little over the years, like the police in riot gear having to surround the Yankee Stadium field after the umpires overturned the original call on the play in which Alex Rodriguez slapped the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove. The play is well remembered, of course, but the reaction of the Yankee Stadium fans and the need for the riot police had slipped my mind.
Prior to game seven you’re treated to snippets from the likes of Donald Trump, Jackie MacMullan and Yogi Berra, all certain that there is no way the Red Sox can finish off the comeback. Yet, even as they’re speaking, you can sense the confidence wavering ever so slightly. Others, like Spike Lee were admittedly nervous, and said so.
Johnny Damon is among those who comment here and there throughout the film, and he’s pretty subdued. You’ve got to wonder if the fact that he went on after 2005 to play with many of those Yankees caused him to be a little muted in his reactions to this event after the fact.
The best part of this film is that there is no narrator leading the story along, no cadre of local media giving their retrospective “take” on the series, it’s just raw footage (some of it taken from Red Sox players’ camcorders and those of fans) put together with audio clips from the broadcasts (radio - both teams and national - and TV broadcasts from FOX). You just get to live through the ride again, seeing the events that changed history for this franchise. You’ll feel the emotion all over again.
It airs tomorrow night, Tuesday, October 5th at 8:00 on ESPN. Be sure to watch it.