"Why not us?" In one of the smartest and most ambitious marketing moves in baseball history, Netflix and MLB will be releasing two documentaries focusing on Boston Red Sox teams 20 years removed from each other.
The 2024 Red Sox season will be chronicled in a docuseries released in 2025, while the World Series-winning 2004 team will be revisited (once more) with “new, exclusive interviews with key players and figures from the team” on its 20th anniversary.
Netflix’s sports series bring unparalleled global viewership to their subjects, including many key demographics MLB needs to target. Whether it’s Formula 1 racers, NFL quarterbacks, PGA Tour players, or WWE wrestlers, the recipients of Netflix’s sports series receive an incredible notoriety boost following their releases. For many, the documentary will be their first real exposure to the legendary 2004 roster that accomplished both the greatest comeback and breaking of one of the most well-known curses in American sports history.
It will not be mine, however.
Growing up in Newburyport, Massachusetts with a grandfather who served as the Executive Sports Editor of the Boston Globe for 17 years (Ernie Roberts) and a father who hosted a sports radio show (Jon Roberts), I was more attuned than most eight-year-olds as to what breaking the Curse of the Bambino would mean. In fact, my family and I attended the 19-8 drubbing in Game 3 of the ALCS, pushing the series to 3-0 in the Yankees' favor. We left in the fourth inning.
As an avid, lifelong Boston sports fan, I regard the 30 for 30 documentary “Four Days in October” as one of the greatest hours of television I’ve ever seen. It’s up there, for me, with the pilot of Lost, the “Battle of the Blackwater” episode of Game of Thrones, and the final hour of the Patriots-Falcons Super Bowl in 2017. It still gives me goosebumps, even after the 50th re-watch, and should be a mandatory watch for every kid growing up in Boston. And New England. And the United States of America. And probably the world (“if they’re watching in Japan, we’ll shock them too”).
So, how will this new Netflix documentary function in relation to the greatest sports documentary ever made? Let’s break it down.
What the MLB-Red Sox Netflix docuseries could add
“Four Days in October” is solely based on the ALCS, which undoubtedly will be a massive focal point of the Netflix documentary. Here are some non-ALCS story lines they’ll more than likely touch on:
The Nomar Garciaparra trade/adding Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz
No. 5 was in the final year of his contract, missed the first two months of the 2004 season due to an Achilles injury, and declined defensively due to said injury. This documentary surely will highlight the fan-favorite’s departure, the valuable defensive upgrades brought back in Cabrera and Mientkiewicz, and maybe even the fact that Garciaparra received a ring.
The Red Sox sweeping the non-ALCS playoffs
The Red Sox went 7-0 against non-Yankees opponents that playoffs. A remarkable feat for a bunch of idiots. Anaheim and St. Louis didn’t stand a chance.
Red Sox players who were under-represented in “Four Days in October"
The 2004 World Series MVP was less than stellar in the round prior, causing him to get little screen time. His .733 OPS in the ALCS ranked seventh on the team (lower than Orlando Cabrera, Kevin Millar and Mark Bellhorn).
Ramirez’s representation in the upcoming Netflix documentary will be worth monitoring. The final years of both his Red Sox and playing career were tumultuous (to say the least), and his lack of support on the Hall of Fame ballot signifies that. Having said that, Ramirez finished third in AL MVP voting that season and anchored a stacked lineup.
Signed as a free agent before the 2004 season, Foulke was a sure-handed closer throughout the entirety of the season and playoff run. Foulke only allowed one run in 14 innings throughout the playoffs, and memorably recorded the final out of the 2004 World Series. Foulke would end up becoming a Player Development Consultant with the Sox.
Side note: I tangentially worked with Foulke in 2019 when he would rove throughout the Red Sox Minor League affiliates working with the relief pitchers. Incredible guy with a lot of insight. Always enjoyed when he touched down in Pawtucket.
He started Game 7 of the ALCS on TWO DAYS OF REST! The sinker-baller went 3-0 in the playoffs and only allowed four earned runs in 19.1 innings pitched. A drastically underrated Red Sox pitcher.
What the Netflix docuseries could re-open from “Four Days in October”
The Iconic Moments: The Steal, Ortiz’s Games 4 & 5 walk-offs, The Idiots, Cowboy Up, the Bloody Sock (we’ll touch on this more later), the A-Rod swat on Bronson Arroyo
It’s impossible to talk about the 2004 Red Sox without diving deep into these moments. It’s hard for me to think of how the new documentary will build on these moments in a way that’s not plagiarizing “Four Days in October.” We shall see.
More insights from the current and former MLB managers and coaches (Terry Francona, Dave Roberts, Gabe Kapler, Jason Varitek), and MLB personalities (David Ortiz, Pedro Martinez, Kevin Millar, Kevin Youkilis, Nomar Garciaparra, Theo Epstein, Don Orsillo)
Given their stature in the current state of MLB and importance from both the 2004 run and “Four Days in October”, the Netflix documentary should spend a good amount of time picking these guys’ brains even more so.
More coverage on our dearly departed Tim Wakefield and Jerry Remy
Two fabled Red Sox figures who left us far too early. I’d love to see their importance to the franchise chronicled more in-depth in front of a global audience
What Netflix will (probably) scratch in the Red Sox docuseries
I don’t think they’ll feature Bill Simmons and Lenny Clarke pretending to drink beers and reminiscing on the ALCS. Sorry, fellas.
I’m not sure how much insight they’ll want from the guy who didn’t make the Hall of Fame pretty much exclusively due to the Character Clause. He seems like a tough hang.
That being said, the Bloody Sock game in Game 6 of the ALCS was undoubtedly the stuff of legends and has to be mentioned when talking about the 2004 Red Sox. Adding Schilling will be a divisive moment in the documentary if/when it happens, so I could see them capture that moment more from the eyes of guys like Francona and Varitek.
There’s a bit of a checkered history with Damon post-2004, largely due to a DUI arrest when Damon was caught with a blood-alcohol that was four times over the legal limit. His reappearance with the Savannah Bananas last year shows he’s still trying to be in the public eye, I’m just not sure how much coverage he’ll get despite an amazing Red Sox tenure
Yankees fans causing a delay in Game 6 of the ALCS by throwing baseballs and beer bottles onto the field, ending with the NYPD lining foul territory in case more interruptions occurred
Remember that? How embarrassing.
Pedro Martinez taking off his cleats in the bullpen before entering Game 7
An incredible faux pas from Pedey. Maybe the “Who’s Your Daddy” chants don’t rain down from 60,000 New Yorkers if he threw more than eight warm-up pitches in the bullpen.
Can’t imagine there’ll be much time for Mirabelli, despite being the best catcher ever at receiving knuckleballs. Sorry, Doug.
The Red Sox and MLB will be on the map in a way they’ve yet to experience, and it comes at a peculiar time in Red Sox fandom. Gary Waksman, director of “Four Days in October,” is quoted at the beginning of the documentary saying, “It’s about a transformation of their fan base”... They were the victims for 86 years.”
...the victim mentality, a feeling many Red Sox fans currently are returning to given the nature of ownership’s many misdeeds and the franchise’s last place finishes in three of the last four seasons. Will the documentary tracks the fanbase’s mentality, given how we went from lovable losers, to the winningest franchise from 2004-2018 (four World Series wins, more than any other franchise in that span of time), back to the victimized fans? This documentary very well could be the lone bright spot upcoming for Red Sox fans this season.
Can you believe it?