(Boston Globe Staff Photos / Barry Chin -- Lowe Stan Grossfeld -- Celebration)
"I don't believe in curses, I think you make your own destination."
-- 10.27.04, 2004 World Series MVP Manny Ramirez
"This is for anyone who ever played for the Red Sox, anyone who ever rooted for the Red Sox, anyone who has ever been to Fenway Park. This is bigger than the 25 players in this clubhouse. This is for all of Red Sox Nation past and present. I hope they're enjoying it as much as we are." -- 10.27.04, Theo Epstein, current (and future) GM of the Boston Red Sox
Three Kinds of People
"Would I rather have the truth or a lie that gives hope? I’d rather have the truth." -- Louis Theroux
Submitted October 28, 2004: Once upon a time (all fairy tales begin this way) a baseball team and its fans, intimate to despair and shattered seasons, could only dream of becoming champions. Today, they and we awake to that dream fulfilled.
We feel like Warren Buffett, the Oracle of Omaha, our emotional investment multiplied beyond our wildest imagination, the archvillain Yankees only spectators to the World Series. As for the Cardinals, you can stick a fork in them, because they’re done. Sox fans hesitate to count our chickens before they’re hatched, because so often we’ve ended up only with the stock trader’s breakfast, egg on the face.
No more will we endure pictures of the Babe or ‘1918’. Aaron Boone, Bucky Dent, or Bill Buckner? Gibson fanning Joe Foy? Fuggedaboutit. If Derek Jeter’s going to Disney World, he’s going to have to buy a ticket, but the Schilling’s, Ramirez’s, and Ortiz’s have their turn to parade. Surely Sox fans won’t retaliate with signs for the New Yorkers ‘2004’ and NESN won’t endlessly replay David Ortiz’s walkoff homerun, A-Rod’s Karate Kid moment, or Kevin Brown’s meltdown.
Just as we enjoyed the Bruins championships of the 1970s and the Celtics’ historic reign during the Russell and Bird administrations, our children received the blessings of two Super Bowls and the World Series victory. Maybe they haven’t suffered as much during the wait; that’s what everyone wants, a better life for their children.
Somehow, this time, at least during the World Series, Red Sox Nation felt not only had its time come, but that we deserved it. Twenty-five guys, twenty-five cabs were replaced by ‘the idiots’. Maybe they are ‘the idiots’ but they’re our idiots. At least for a short time, we’ll remember the 2004 Boys of Summer for their exploits on the team, not for labor disputes, contract squabbles, or playing time pouts.
What lasting memories can we hope to cherish into old age? Redemption becomes the most obvious. The devastating ALCS 19-8 Game 3 loss at Fenway nearly eviscerated Sox loyalists. Teddy Bear David Ortiz became the stuff of legends, with three game winning hits and a key homer in ALCS Game 7. He could only be described as ‘menacing’ at the plate. Dave Roberts’ steal of second in Game 4 of the ALCS and scamper home on a single to center showed that the Sox could play small ball on the big stage. A subtle late season acquisition by Theo Epstein became the cornerstone of the Sox comeback. Derek Lowe, lambasted and nearly forgotten, achieved resurrection with clutch pitching performances during both the ALCS (Game 7) and the Series, and won the deciding contest in each. Mark Bellhorn’s futility during the early portions of the ALCS could only be matched by his production during the latter ALCS and Game 1 of the Series, clanging homers off the fair pole in New York and Boston. Manny Ramirez going from goat to hero with two errors in Game 1 to become the Series MVP. Terry Francona leaves Pedro in as an object lesson on September 24th against the Yankees and doesn’t try to stretch him out against the Cardinals, as ‘Francoma’ outmanages ‘the genius’ Tony LaRussa.
One of the richest men on the planet, John Henry, reminds us that our statistical fortunes in close games should turn around, and Theo Epstein makes the second most controversial deal in club history. Epstein rejected the lie that gives hope. He exiles Nomar Garciaparra, the team’s most recognized face, for Orlando Cabrera, almost unknown in Montreal and an alphabet soup slick-fielding first basemen. Doug Mientkiewiecz (the I before e rule embodied). Both Henry and Epstein are prescient. The eleventh plague, unearned runs, ends abruptly.
How many times have we said to our friends and family, “I’d like to see the Sox win once before I die?” Admit it, you’ve said it.
Tommy Lasorda said, ‘there are three kinds of people, those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wonder what’s happening.” Savor the victory and enjoy the taste because our team has made it happen.
-- Ron Sen, Boston Dirt Dogs contributor and founder of Red Sox Reality Check