Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard has been ESPNBoston.com's playoff correspondent. Moments after Boston's 7-6 Game 3 loss, and Anaheim's ALDS sweep, he took time to look back on the team's short playoff run and his own rookie season from inside a very solemn Red Sox clubhouse.
-- As told to Louise K. Cornetta
By Daniel Bard
I'm not feeling very good right now. This ending is not how we would have planned it, obviously. This team was too good to get swept in the first round. But that's baseball sometimes. They pitched really well and got some timely hits. Two outs, bottom of the ninth, we were all on the top step of the dugout. I'm standing next to Manny Delcarmen. We're waiting to get out there and give each other high-fives out on the mound. I think 99 times out of 100 the game is over right there with Pap on the mound, maybe more than that. For it to end like that is tough. It still would have been a pretty daunting challenge to win the next two. At least we would have put ourselves in a good position.
This was an early game. I actually made it a point to get to bed at a decent hour. I usually stay up till 2 in the morning. That's just me, I can't fall asleep. I got in bed about 11 and was up by 7:30. I felt pretty rested, actually. This was the longest season I've ever played. Physically I felt really good. My body feels great, which is not surprising, but it's kind of unknown territory for me. Mentally, it's been more wear. Definitely those last 15-20 games of the regular season you really have to force yourself to get up. Obviously, it's easy when you're playing for something. In the playoffs, if you can't get up for these games, something's wrong with you. I wanted to just keep playing as long as we could.
For me, I came into the game in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and no one out. I looked at that as an opportunity to succeed. You're expected to give up a couple runs there. To be able to get out of it, I see it as a challenge. Obviously, Buch's counting on me to give up as few runs as possible. Not just for the team, but for him too. I'm trying to come in and hopefully get a strikeout or something to keep the ball in the infield. I was able to do that, and Mikey made a really nice play over at third. Fortunately, I got two outs and then was able to get out of the inning. I had a one-two-three inning next. I knew I was probably done after that second inning and would give it to Billy or Pap. Especially with the lead, three runs at the time. As I walked off the mound I was looking forward to my next outing -- hopefully tomorrow or Wednesday.
For my first playoff game at Fenway, not including how the game ended, I thought it was awesome and intense. The crowd gets behind you, just like they have all year. They're on their feet every two-strike pitch. It's a good feeling and something I'm looking forward to experiencing for years to come. I thought the fans would actually be a little more intense than they were. But it's tough to top their usual intensity -- especially how they were in big games in September. I mean, there's no complaints there. They've been awesome all year and they were good again today. They just didn't get the ending they would have liked.
Now I'll come back into Fenway on Monday to pack some stuff up. Then I'll start packing the apartment up. That will take a couple days. Then I'll head back to Charlotte for the offseason. I'll be doing a lot of hunting for deer and ducks. I'll spend time with my fiancée -- we're getting married in January. Now that my schedule is freed up quite a bit, I'm sure I'll be more involved with that.
Looking back on my rookie year, what I will remember most is the people I've met. A lot of these guys I'll be playing with for the next few years; hopefully longer. I developed a lot of good relationships, coaching staff included. I think that's the thing about baseball -- you come around to the same people a lot. Twenty years down the road, I'll probably run into a lot of these guys, and we'll always have this season to look back on.
I'll end this on a fun note, about a comment from one of my blogs. "Flaxenmanes" wanted to know who is the best person in the bullpen at spitting seeds into a cup. Without question the answer is Manny. He's by far the best. I don't think Ramon made one all year. Maybe one. I would say I'm a not-too-distant second in getting them in the cup. Something to strive for next year.
If you missed Part 1: Bard on hazing and more
If you missed Part 2: Life in the playoffs