Thursday, October 28, 2004
Keith Foulke fielded the ground ball ran towards first base and nervously threw the baseball to first ending a lot more than just the inning. Once the ball landed in the glove of Doug Mientkiewicz it was the end of the inning, the game, the season, the World Series and the Curse. It had been 86 years since the Red Sox last clinched a World Championship, year after year people have watched this team religiously only to be left disappointed and waiting for next year.
So I am left to question, why now? Why should I be so lucky to get to experience this especially at such a young age? Unlike some of the older fans I have only had to live through two major disappointments the '86 World Series and the '03 ALCS. The World Series loss was difficult because I was only nine at the time and it was probably one of the worst things to ever happen in my life. Fast forward to last year, I was 17 years older and unfortunately had experienced a few things worse than the Buckner incident of '86. It was still a tough night watching them lose to the Yankees, on the Boone homerun, and had a major impact on how I watched this year. Over the last few weeks it has always been in the back of my mind that they could easily lose it all even though they were doing so well. It was difficult, because as much as I wanted to watch the game and see the drama unfold, it was still scary to think of the drama actually unfolding and the impact it would have on my poor stomach. I would make jokes about how they would not lose the ALCS in four games because it would be too easy on us. Later I felt them winning the first three games of the World Series was just a giant teaser to the biggest let down yet. Always lingering in the back of my mind, as was the case with most in Red Sox Nation, was the thought of the impending possibility of failure.
We all tried to counteract this anxiety with crazy superstitious actions. For instance, when the playoffs first started I wore my Red Sox hat on game days, but once they started losing to the Yankees I stopped wearing it and made a point of grabbing a different hat on the way to work. Other superstitions I witnessed over the last few weeks included watching games at the same bar, sitting at the same table, not paying the bill until the last out, anger towards people counting outs to go and the list could go on and on. It was strange to see people in this day and age having their behavior influenced by otherworldly forces. I guess with a history like this you need to think outside the box and try anything no matter how small and insignificant the gesture may seem.
I don't know if all of our little oddities worked together or maybe, call me crazy, the Red Sox were just a well skilled team of baseball players, but it doesn't really matter now. We can finally rest easily and not worry about hearing the 1918 chant at Yankee Stadium anymore. I might not have emotionally earned it, but I am going to take it and enjoy every minute of it. I am going to enjoy it for all of those who went through years of pain and never got to experience the thrill of victory. For people like my grandfather who watched more baseball than anybody I know, although he was around for the 1918 World Series (when he was three years old), he still endured all of the other heart aches. It was funny as I was watching the celebration on television last night, Tim Wakefield came on the screen and the first thought I had was of my grandfather cursing at the television because he couldn't stand how slowly Wakefield delivered his pitches. I was happy to know that he had been with the franchise long enough for this connection.
Now we must look ahead to the winter and reflect back on this monumental victory. I don't think it has sunk in for many of us yet, it is a much different feeling than the pain of losing. I think in losing you feel the pain immediately and it slowly fades, but in winning the joy comes in waves. There is an immediate joy when the final out is called, but then it subsides only to reappear at the most random of times. Thankfully the joyous times will occur, now and then, for the rest of our lives always with a nearly equal amount of joy. I look forward to being an old man climbing a mountain somewhere and being briefly reminded of the year the curse was broken and how I was so lucky to be a part of such an amazing event. I am sure there will be more Red Sox disappointments between now and then, but I will always remember the 100th World Series when the Red Sox did the impossible and came back from a 3 game deficit in the ALCS against the Yankees only to move on to the World Series and sweep the St. Louis Cardinals. We all "Kept The Faith" and were rewarded with an "Unbelievable" performance by a bunch of "Idiots".
LJ Entries of major BoSox games of yore
'03 ALDS LJ Entry
'03 ALCS LJ Entry