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Sunday Discussion: Happy Memories

The best pitcher ever, and a major reason I'm writing here.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
The best pitcher ever, and a major reason I'm writing here. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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This flat-out sucks right now. There's no other way to put it. At least none that I can type on this family-friendly blog. Yesterday... You all saw it. Felix Doubront shackled the Yankees lineup. The Red Sox pounded the hell out of Freddy Garcia. Boston was cruising. And then the bullpen came into the game.

In armies of the pre-Napoleonic era, soldiers would be punished by "running the gauntlet," walking between two rows of other soldiers, each of whom would hit the condemned soldier on his way by. Red Sox relievers seem to operate under the same principle, each one absorbing dozens of blows from every opposing hitter. Coming into Saturday's game, the Sox bullpen had given up 28 runs in 13 games, which is lousy, but not horrifying. In three innings of work yesterday, they gave up 14. And tonight, the Sox get to face CC Sabathia.

So let's not talk about that. There was one awesome part of this weekend (besides Doubront's promising and sadly squandered start), and that was the pregame ceremony for Fenway's 100th anniversary. Former Red Sox players from Johnny Pesky to Tim Wakefield showed up to celebrate the park's centennial. It was an astounding visual, Sox greats from across the century together on the same field where they'd become legends. And also Jose Canseco showed up, because why not.

Clearly the 2012 version of the Sox isn't living up to expectations right now, so at least for the morning, let's forget about them. The franchise has a rich history, and it was put on display beautifully on Friday. So for today's thread, I want everyone to dig deep, and chat about the player or moment that first got you hooked on the Red Sox. After all, there's a reason we're putting ourselves through the torture of the present season, and I think it'd be good to remind ourselves of how excellent baseball can be and has been for us.

If there's one guy I can credit with turning me from a casual fan into a die-hard, it's Pedro Martinez. Obviously I'm not alone in this. Ask basically anyone who was in New England in their teens or early twenties during Pedro's peak, and they'll start telling you a dozen different stories about how amazing he was. And even that won't fully capture how ridiculously good he was.

My father is not a baseball fan. He has no particular objection to baseball, it's simply not his cup of tea. The one time I can recall him giving his full attention to a baseball game was on September 10, 1999. The Red Sox were in the Bronx, facing the Yankees. These were the late '90s dynasty Yanks, with Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams and the rest of the gang at the full height of their powers, and the team would six weeks later win their third championship in four years. And for nine innings on that Friday night in September, Pedro Martinez made them look like little leaguers.

He struck out every Yankee at least once, racking up 17 strikeouts on the night. He allowed two baserunners, hitting Chuck Knoblauch and giving up a solo shot to Chili Davis. And even though my dad's not a baseball guy, he sat watching, because Pedro was an artist at the height of his craft, and that always commands attention. Any time I'm feeling lousy about the Sox, I think of that game, and I start to feel a bit better.

I'm not saying it'll work, nor that taking a few minutes to relive an old game will make the bullpen any less lousy. But I think we could all use a brief break from the frustrations of the current team, and there's plenty of good in the Sox' history to give us that break. So what got you hooked on the Sox? What's the best game you ever saw? And which player showing up at Friday's ceremony brought back the best memories?