Kevin Millar talks playoff baseball, shares his advice for this year’s Sox, and sheds light on his current endeavors

Monday, 09 October 2017, 03:46:52 AM. '11 wins, and they're World Series champs. Just focus on the 25 men in that clubhouse.'

After winning back-to-back AL East titles for the first time in team history, the Red Sox find themselves down 0-2 in their ALDS series against the Houston Astros. On the brink of elimination, the team desperately needs to channel something beyond what they’ve shown if they want their season to continue past Sunday.

“We can’t do a whole lot of things that they can do, but we can do what we can do,” Mookie Betts told reporters on Saturday. “What we do got us in the playoffs, and I’m pretty sure it can win us the World Series, too.”

Retired first baseman Kevin Millar and the ’04 Red Sox know a thing or two about extending their postseason while having the odds stacked against them. Millar, who played three seasons in Boston, told that coming back from 0-3 down to beat the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS was “the greatest feeling” he’s had in his 12-year professional career.

“A year prior, we had guys crying,” he said, remembering the devastating feeling of losing Game 7 at Yankee Stadium in the 2003 ALCS. “A year later, we had guys pounding their heads in celebration.”

The Red Sox never won a division championship during his brief tenure with the team, but advanced to the playoffs each year with a wild card berth. According to Millar, their regular season performance didn’t impact their postseason play. Viewing them as two separate entities, he believes that playoff baseball is “the way the game is supposed to be played.”

“All the stats, all the individual numbers go out the window,” the 46-year-old said, when asked about the differences between the two types of atmospheres.

His statement rang true in Game 1 of the Boston-Houston series, but perhaps not in the way the Red Sox would have hoped. Chris Sale, who Millar agrees is “one of the best pitchers” in baseball, gave the team a rather unpropitious start on Thursday, despite posting nearly impeccable regular-season numbers. But as someone whose been in their shoes, Millar doesn’t think the 0-2 hole shouldn’t faze the Sox.

“Don’t read any articles. Don’t listen to any TV shows,” he said. “11 wins, and they’re World Series champs. Just focus on the 25 men in that clubhouse. You’re just playing to win, and you’re playing as a team. Everybody is behind you.”

Millar, who played his last MLB game in 2009, has stayed connected to the sport well into retirement. He currently co-hosts a daily program on MLB Network called Intentional Talk, where he, along with sportscaster Chris Rose, offer his take on the current events of the league.

Prior to the start of the regular season, Millar predicted Dodgers and Astros World Series. Both teams are still in contention, but the talk show host says that all eight postseason teams are strong enough to make a run.

“You could flip a coin,” Millar said.

In June, the World Series champ even took another at-bat in a game for his former team (no, not the Red Sox). But a mere at-bat is a vast understatement for the events that ultimately transpired. While playing for his the St. Paul Saints, an independent professional team, Millar rocked a pitch out of the ball park in his first, and only, plate appearance since his departure in 2009.

In a recent appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, he explained how it all came about:

This was real stuff. 25 years ago, I played for the St. Paul Saints. Bill Murray owns the club, he’s part owner, so I’m thinking … ‘Oh OK, yeah I’ll come back there. Only if I get one at-bat.’ And I said that as a joke.

I’m an overweight dad. I got a dad body. I haven’t done a push-up in seven years. Haven’t seen a live pitch in seven years. I took batting practice with my son in the garage … Took 20 swings, that’s it.

Millar has now connected with Murray, who was formerly his first base coach on the Saints, on an separate endeavor. He recently became an investor in the actor’s lifestyle and apparel brand, William Murray Golf. Calling himself a “complete golf groupie,” Millar picked up the sport more seriously at a country club in his current hometown of Austin, Texas.

“I absolutely love it,” he said. “It’s one of those sports you can never master. Plus, there’s competition and a little gambling behind the scenes.”

The father of three says that baseball players are “wired a little differently” than most, so as he searches for that same adrenaline rush from “facing Randy Johnson or Roger Clemens,” golf appears to be a sufficient outlet for now.

To keep the competition alive, he has hit the links with the 2003 U.S. Open tennis champion, Andy Roddick, who is a fellow Austin resident and Williams Murray Golf investor. As for how the two fared on the tennis court?

“I could not return one serve, let alone make contact,” Millar said.

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