There are few figures in Boston sports history who have worse status than former Red Sox manager Grady Little. If the Sox hadn’t won two World Series in the next four years, Little may have gone down in the same category as Bill Buckner and the Curse of the Bambino in New England, but luckily the Red Sox bailed him out.
In case you’re unfamiliar with Little’s Beantown offense, it dates back to Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS between the Red Sox and Yankees. The Red Sox were up 5-2 and ace Pedro Martinez got Nick Johnson to pop up to open the bottom of the 8th. The Red Sox were five outs from the World Series when Pedro gave up a double to Derek Jeter and an RBI single to Bernie Williams making it 5-3. Little took a mound visit and decided to stick with Pedro who gave up a ground rule double to Hideki Matsui. Jorge Posada then tied up the game with a two-run double before Little finally relieved Pedro for Alan Embree. The game remained tied until the 11th when Aaron Boone hit a walkoff home run sending the Yanks to the World Series.
Grady Little was always deemed a goat for leaving Pedro in the 8th too long when, as critics say, it was evident he was gassed and losing his stuff. I’ve always defended Little’s decision (and Charlie Manuel’s years later) and felt he got an awful deal from the fans and media who fail to point out that the Red Sox didn’t score after the 8th and are strictly results-oriented. The fans and media were dealing with nearly 90 years of disappointment and needed a scapegoat, so Little filled the role. Luckily Pedro Martinez backs his manager.