It’s almost been a week, but historically, culturally and personally, the results of this year’s World Series have not yet sunk in. I wasn’t alive in 1946, 1975 or 1978 and was too young to pronounce “Buckner” or “Mookie” in 1986. My first true Red Sox disappointment wasn’t written down in the analogs of history but was rather back in second grade when my little sister, Danielle, took a liking to the Red Sox.
I remember going to Fenway on a spring night with my mom, dad and little sister, sitting in the right field grandstands and watching the Red Sox win. I don’t remember the opponent or the score, but I remember thinking their win was directly correlated to Danielle sitting in the ballpark with us. My dad and I dubbed Danielle the lucky charm of the Red Sox and started believing right then and there that the season was destined for great things. I remember the Sox putting together a modest win streak shortly following our visit and still crediting their success to Danielle; until of course, they started losing again, and failed to make the post-season. I quickly began to make up for any sibling tormenting time I’d lost out on while holding Danielle up as a Red Sox deity.
I remember October of 1999, Roger Clemens versus Pedro Martinez in Boston. The Sox won 13-1 and for a moment the fact that the Sox had dropped the first two games to the Yankees in the Bronx didn’t seem to matter, for our Cy Young-winning pitcher had just trumped our former/traitorous Cy Young-winning pitcher. Yet there was to be no World Series appearance in 1999 as the Yankees pushed past us and went on to win.
Everyone remembers last year. For those of you living under a rock, a brief recap: Game 7, Sox up 4-1, Pedro on the mound, Clemens off the mound, feeling good, Yankees make it 4-2, Pedro not getting off the mound, Grady Little not getting off the bench, the inning ending, why is Pedro going back onto the mound?, confusion, Jeter hitting a double, Grady Little is STILL sitting, Jeter makes it home, WHY IS PEDRO STILL OUT THERE?!, Hideki getting on base, Red Sox fans everywhere screaming at the TV Will Ferrell style, “PEDRO! GET OFF THE MOUND! GET OFF THE GOD DAMN MOUND! GET OFF THE GOD DAMN MOUND,” Posada tying up the game, Grady rambling out WAY too calmly to collect a shell-shocked Pedro, Wakefield in, Aaron Boone up — *(@#%@#(%&!! (It hurt just to type that.)
The damage that Game 7 left in its wake seemed almost insurmountable. Sure, there would be other seasons, but no lead the Sox had against the Yankees would ever be considered safe. Pedro had started down the path that would make the Yankees — who Sox CEO Larry Lucchino had dubbed the “Evil Empire” — what Darth Vader was to Luke Skywalker: his daddy. But more than that, an urgency developed in Boston. The plan was to do everything and anything to ensure a World Series win in the 2004 season. For me, this didn’t sit well. I didn’t want our team becoming a poorer man’s version of the George Steinbrenner Yankees. I was against the prospect of an A-Rod trade from the beginning, as I wanted us to win the World Series with a team, not just with a bunch of bought-out superstars. And then there was the fact that for a while there, I thought Nomah was dreamy — I swear, it was just a phase.
Fortunately, the baseball version of the Valentine’s Day Massacre occurred as Brian Cashman and the Yankees scooped up A-Rod. This led to the Red Sox trading “Nomah Gahciaparra” for Doug Mientkiewicz (the only name in sports that Bostonians would have more trouble pronouncing than Nomar) and, most importantly, picking up Orlando Cabrera. It’s significant that the Nomar trade occurred only a week after Jason Varitek had enough of A-Rod trying to bully pitcher Bronson Arroyo and decided to stuff his catcher’s mitt into A-Rod’s perfectly exfoliated face. Despite all the Steinbrenner-esque moves of John Henry and company, this is where the Red Sox became a team. This is when it started to get good.
The players were all in position, the pitching for the first time was coming together. But aside from all their talent, what defined the Red Sox most in the postseason was the nickname Christ-like Johnny Damon gave them, “the idiots.” The feel of this Red Sox team was different. The majority had been on the roster when Game 7 of last year’s ALCS devastated all their World Series hopes. But this team decided that instead of passively blaming their misfortune on some stupid curse, they were going to take control of their destiny. In this postseason, they certainly lived up to their nickname. They were ignorant to any talk of curses and unaware of any Yankee mystique. No one had ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in a seven game series? They were too idiotic to pay any attention to that statistic either. That’s what made the huge difference.
Now that it’s all said and done, there still exist certain Sox fans among us who are not as happy as they should be. There have been a rash of articles (printed in the New York Post and this publication, among others) in which certain Sox fans whined that since with the Red Sox claimed the title of World Champions, they feel that they have lost a part of their identity.
To these fans, I say join a support group. Really! If you were rooting for the Sox just so you could have the excuse to have a good cry every October, move on. Hell, become a White Sox fan. That way you can complain not only about how your life sucks, but also about how nobody cares. You can kill two birds with one stone.
For this girl, what I’ll remember about this season is that for years, I’ve been in love with a team called the Red Sox. While I’ve never wavered in my devotion, on Wednesday Oct. 27, those idiots finally said “I love you” back, and nothing in my life as a sports fan has been more satisfying than that.