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Oct. 28, 2004

A nation conquers the world

by Michael Bushnell, Page Editor
I don’t believe in curses; never have, never will. But if there indeed was a hex hanging over the Boston Red Sox organization, it has finally been exorcised.

With their 3-0 victory last night and their World Series sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals, the Red Sox won their first championship since 1918. A drought that has lasted four generations is gone. To the millions of incredibly loyal fans in New England and all over the world: go crazy. Celebrate. Yes, it happened in your lifetime.

For these fans, the real fans, the millions of truly loyal fans in Red Sox nation, the payoff from last night must have been incredible. Not just because this is their first title in 86 years, and not just the way the Red Sox won it this year. But because, in New England, every Sox game, even against Detroit in mid- June, is huge. Fenway Park was sold out every game this year.

In New England, where baseball reigns supreme, the wait for a title is over.

For all these passionate fans, there’s no more heartbreak. No more “1918!” chants. Seeing Bucky Dent’s home run off Mike Torrez in '78, the ball trickling through Buckner’s legs in '86, Aaron Boone’s home run last year…none of it means anything anymore. The Sox are the defending champions of baseball.

The only really stunning thing about it was how dominant the Red Sox were in the series. In Games two through four, their starters; Schilling, Martinez and Lowe, in that order, allowed zero earned runs. Scott Rolen went 0-for-15 in the series, Jim Edmonds was 1-for-15. After coming back from down 0-3 to beat the Yankees, this series was a mere formality; the Red Sox controlled St. Louis, never trailing in the entire World Series.

First, the Sox battled back in the ALCS to stun the New York, and then they laid the smack down on St. Louis.

Even when Boston made four errors in each of the first two games, they still won. In a postseason that broke all sorts of streaks and records, it was fitting that the Red Sox came out on top.

This team was indeed, as Curt Schilling said, “the greatest team in Red Sox history.” Everyone on that team deserves credit. But particularly guys like Manny Ramirez, the World Series MVP, a player who had made his name in the past by being silent in the playoffs, hit in every game, and Larry Lucchino, the CEO, for bringing in then 28-year-old Theo Epstein to be the general manager.

Epstein, in two years, has become a legend. He brought David Ortiz in off the Minnesota scrap pile, and turned him into one of the best hitters in the majors. He signed Curt Schilling over Javier Vazquez in the off-season, and picked up baseball vagabonds like Bill Mueller, Kevin Millar and Pokey Reese, and watched them become huge pieces to this World Series. And let us not forget that July 30 trade of Nomar Garciaparra for Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientkiewicz. The risky, but brilliant trade stabilized a defense that was horrendous, and turned the Sox into the best team in baseball over the final two months of the season.

Manager Terry Francona, another Epstein hire, was on point in the playoffs as well. While he did make some suspect moves, he also made amazing moves that got the Red Sox to where they were. In Game 4 of the ALCS, down a run against Mariano Rivera and staring the end of their season squarely in the face, Francona sent Dave Roberts in to pinch run, and steal a base. After Roberts barely got to second, he scored on Bill Mueller’s hit.

Francona also had the guts to stick with Mark Bellhorn after an absolutely awful first four games of the ALCS. All Bellhorn did was hit four homers in seven games.

For all the fans, and everyone associated with the Sox’s past failures, I hope they can smile now. It would be nice to see Buckner, Stanley and all the others from that 1986 team at the victory parade, which is expected to attract 5 million people.

This October, the Sox turned the baseball world upside down. When they went down 0-3 in the ALCS, they were written off by even the most loyal and delusional Red Sox fans. But instead of rolling over, they vowed that this series would be different. So different in fact, that they made the greatest comeback in baseball history, becoming the first team ever to win after being down 0-3.

Eleven days later, they’re champions of the world, on the 18th anniversary of their Game 7 loss in 1986, no less.

If all is right in the world, the Red Sox will be presented with their World Series rings on April 11, 2005, the home opener. And who will the team watching them in the visiting dugout be? The Yankees. Sweet.

There are old, frail men and women who have watched thousands of Red Sox games, waiting for last night to finally happen. Many died waiting. Many thought, especially after being down 0-3, and with so many upcoming free agents, that it would take years to get back to being this close to a World Series title. Some thought that yes, the Sox really were cursed.

Maybe they weren’t, after all. Maybe it was because there really was never a team this good, this complete. All 25 players, and the incredible coaching staff, all knew that this had to be the year. After 86 years, this was it.

And at 10:40 Central time in St. Louis, Missouri, Doug Mientkiewicz caught Keith Foulke’s throw to retire Edgar Renteria. After pinching themselves over and over, Red Sox Nation realized that the dream had finally come true.

So, to all the fans in the Hub, to Charlestown, the Cape, to White River Junction and all over the world, this is for you. This is your suffering, for all the years of coming so close, only to have your heart broken.

This is for Bill Buckner, Mike Torrez, Johnny Pesky, Dave Henderson, Jerry Remy, Jim Rice, Bob Stanley, Grady Little and all the other Red Sox who came so close so many times, only to end in extreme disappointment.

But today, Red Sox fans, go crazy. Rejoice. On Friday, go to the largest gathering in Boston’s 350+ year history, the victory parade. You’ve earned it.

And yes, once again, it happened in your lifetime.



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  • A Mike Bushnell fan on October 28, 2004
    You said that Boston aquired Cabrera, Mientkiewicz and Roberts on the trade of Nomar. This is not true. Boston aquired Cabrera and Mientkiewicz in the Nomar trade, but they aquired Roberts in a trade of Triple-A Outfielder Henri Stanley to the Dodgers.
  • yanks fan on October 28, 2004
    we're gonna rip them apart at their home opener and remind them that we still own them.
    let them celebrate today, thats gonna be it for the next century. although 26-6 doesnt have the same ring as 26-0, we're still better!
  • yanks fan on October 28, 2004
    on a positive note, nice title for the article
  • Armin Rosen (View Email) on October 28, 2004
    I like how in the second paragraph you borrow a favorite phrase of Jack Buck, the legendary Cardinals broadcaster.
  • anonymous on October 29, 2004
    hey mr yanks fan...stop talking smack...u just got served
  • just wondering... on October 30, 2004
    Wasn't "A nation conquers the world" the Washington Post's headline the day after the Sox won the series?
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