Even after the first couple games, I was wary to let this guy into my heart. He had great stuff, but seemed to go wild all to often, not lasting past the 5th.
But somewhere along the line, this tall gangly redhead with a beard like a Tribble became our ace. And more than that, he became the grown-up little brother of all of Red Sox Nation. The guy who could obviously take care of business on the field, yet seemed oddly vulnerable. The guy who, should word one be said against him, would have thousands defending his honor.
And with the flight of a baseball, the unintentional line drive of Carl Crawford, our ace, our darling boy, crumpled to the ground.
There was a play afterwards, but no one paid attention to it. Baseball was secondary, baseball, for the moment, was unimportant.
"No,no, no, no, no, no." Like if I said it enough, refused it it would undo what had happened. He was breathing, that much was certain, but he was frighteningly stone-still as they carried him off the field. And the lasting image for me, as it seems to have been for many, was Kevin Millar crouched over Matty, stone-faced.
Thankfully, Matty was apparently conscious the whole time. He was "awake and alert", and is in a Tampa hospital with negative CT scans.
I thought seeing Johnny Damon and Damian Jackson collide two years ago would be the most frightening thing I ever saw in a baseball game. That has surpassed it.
I thought July 24th would be the most emotional, rollercoaster ride game I would ever see. I was wrong.
Frankly, I would not have blamed the Red Sox if they had just sleepwalked through the entire game. And it seemed for a while they were going to.
However, thank god for rookies. And one rookie in particular. "Manuelito", is translated directly as "Little Manny". Manny Delcarmen, rather than Manny Ramirez, should rightfully be called "Manuelito".
His 95 mph heater, and his energetic 1-2-3 inning seemed to spark something in the Sox. And now that they knew that Matty was conscious and being taken care of, they could get to the business of winning the game. "For Matty" ringing as the unsaid battle cry.
And as most good comeback do, this one involved everybody. Captain Caveman, with the glove and the bat. Olerud, redeeming his slowness with his defensive range. Buelly, proving once again that he is the most clutch player EVER. And Tek, starting it off, hitting one out for his wounded comrade.
Matty's said enough times that it is Tek who has sparked his Renaissance this year. Last night, Tek repaid the compliment.
Last night certainly had enough similarities to July 24th. Let's just hope the result is as positive and that Matty can be a part of it.
Make this game matter.