Imagine having a baseball game named after you? That honor goes to former Red Sox manager who had the “Grady Little Game” forever associated with his sparkling managerial maneuvers in Game Seven of the 2003 ALCS. Removing a pitcher from a game is an excruciatingly difficult one to make when the pitcher is Pedro Martinez and the opponent is the New York Yankees. Pitchers can often state their case, but the final decision is the managers and Little made the wrong one.
Martinez had thought his evening was done after seven innings and a 4-2 Red Sox lead. The curse was about to be vanquished or was it? After David Ortiz hit one out, Little asked Pedro to start the eighth. Then it started to crash.
After the Yankees nudged across a run to make it 5-3, Little asked Pedro if he had enough left to face Hideki Matsui and Martinez was willing to give it a go – the competitive thing, but Martinez was gassed. They needed a fresh arm and the results were catastrophic. I will ease the pain of that wretched night and simply say into extra innings knotted at 5-5.
Eventually, Tim Wakefield tossed a knuckleball that didn’t knuckle and Aaron Boone put the game away in the eleventh with a 6-5 walk-off victory. The penalty was clear as Little was fired and Terry Francona took over the duties.
Martinez, to his credit, never blamed Little for the pitching decision faux pas. The reality is Martinez’s pitch count was up and the Yankees had a few solid hits and a few not so solid. The positive outcome was the humiliation of the Yankees in 2004 with the Red Sox coming back from a 3-0 deficit.