Six years ago, prior to Game Four of the ’04 ALCS, Kevin Millar strutted around Fenway Park with a message.

“Don’t let the Sox win tonight!” Millar bellowed to anyone that would listen.

Of course, the Red Sox trailed the New York Yankees 3-0 in the series and looked all but titleless for yet another October. The Curse of the Bambino appeared to live for another year.

But Millar didn’t see it that way.

“This is a big game for [the Yankees],” he said at the time. “If we win tonight, we’ve got Pedro coming back and then Schilling will pitch Game Six.

“And then anything can happen in Game Seven.”

On that evening, Millar’s message didn’t resonate with Red Sox fans like it would a month or so later. What reason did they have to believe? Boston lost 19-8 in Game Three and it looked like just another cold winter in New England.

But then came Millar’s rallying call of “Cowboy Up,” his proclamation that the Red Sox are just a bunch of “idiots,” pregame shots of Jack Daniels, Millar’s walk, Dave Roberts’ steal, and history.

Johnny Damon capped the comeback by hitting a grand slam in Game Seven at Yankee Stadium, a gut punch to the heart of New York that stifled The Bronx.

See the top Red Sox vs. Yankees moments of the decade

You know what happened in the World Series. Bye, bye, Bambino.

Those were the good old days in Boston.


An Idiot returns?

Boston claimed Johnny Damon on Monday after the Detroit Tigers put the 36-year-old outfielder on waivers.

In order for Detroit and Boston to work out a trade, however, they first need Damon’s approval, which doesn’t seem that likely based on his initial feelings.

“My teammates are making this decision easier by saying they want me to stay,” Damon told reporters after Monday’s game. “My gut and everything else tells me Detroit’s the place for me.”

Damon has a clause in his contract that allows him to veto a trade to all but eight teams, including the Red Sox. Damon said he would talk to Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski before coming to a final decision.

As far as sentiment goes, Damon returning to the place where he was once beloved would be a nice story.

Damon’s an integral part of the franchise’s most important season, the year that the Red Sox won the World Series for the first time since Babe Ruth proclaimed they never would again.

But other than that, not much remains the same.

Oh, Boston could use Damon’s work. The Red Sox have been banged up and leftfielder Jacoby Ellsbury is back on the DL. The Red Sox could plug Damon’s .358 on-base percentage into the top of the order and hope that he provides a little life for the lineup.


Could Damon and Boston reconcile?

But Damon soured on Boston after the Red Sox made it apparent that they weren’t all that interested in re-signing him after the 2005 season.

In fairness to the Red Sox, they simply didn’t want to meet Damon’s contract demands and Damon didn’t want to take a pay cut. Business is business.

Damon then signed with the Yankees and Red Sox Nation ruthlessly excoriated him. They called Damon a “traitor” and booed his every appearance in Fenway from then on.

Surely it didn’t help to see Damon, all clean-shaven in pinstripes, celebrate a World Series title with New York last year.

When Damon returned to Yankee Stadium last week for the first time since leaving the club, the crowd gave him a standing ovation prior to his first at-bat.

Damon stepped out, took his helmet off, and acknowledged the support.

Although he left the Yankees on different terms than he did with the Red Sox—the departure was more mutual—it was quite a contrast to his reception in Boston.

Damon believes all of the ill-will that stemmed from his departure with the Red Sox could be buried for good if he returned and helped Boston make a push for a playoff spot in the season’s final month.

And it should.

Damon gave Boston his best efforts for four seasons, and then exercised his right to maximize his earning power. Boston exercised its right to make a business decision. Call it even.

But if Boston fans believe they can recapture the aura of the self-proclaimed Idiots of ’04, they are mistaken. The identity of the club is completely different today than it was then.

Damon is not the guy he used to be. Jason Varitek is still around, but just barely. Dustin Pedroia wasn’t in the big leagues in ‘04. Josh Beckett was in Florida. Kevin Youkilis was on the roster but wasn’t a starter.

Manny Ramirez is long gone, but David Ortiz still remains to create a few late-night chills every once in a while.

Turnover happens for every organization, and Boston is no different. The Red Sox have gone a little more mainstream in recent years, spending more money in free agency and trading prospects for established stars.

Credit Red Sox GM Theo Epstein for continuing to build a stable of quality homegrown prospects despite Boston’s influx of revenue.

With their own prospects, the Red Sox have a chance to rekindle that us-against-the-world attitude of the ’04 team, but that time won’t be now.

Boston sits 5.5 games behind the Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays in the A.L. East.

Can Damon help them bridge the gap in the last six weeks of the season by bringing some old-school attitude to a new-school club?

It’s possible, but the idiots and their magic have come and gone.

Follow Teddy Mitrosilis on Twitter. You can reach him at

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