"The 1918 triumph marks the fifth world's series that the Red Sox have brought to the high brow domicile of the baked bean. Boston is the luckiest baseball spot on earth, for it has never lost a world's series." - New York Times, Sept. 12, 1918
"This is our [expletive] city." - David Ortiz, Fenway Park, April 20, 2013
The Improbable Dream is a magnificent reality.
Now we can all live in peace.
Boston is again the luckiest baseball spot on earth. It is home of the 2013 World Series champion Red Sox.
The Red Sox won the World Series at Fenway Park Wednesday night with a 6-1 victory over the Cardinals in Game 6. The triumph triggered a raucous celebration that America's oldest and most storied major-league ballpark had not seen in 95 years. The Red Sox completed an emotional seven-month whirlwind that took them and their fans from this team's lowest point in decades to its third championship of this century.
Never has a Duck Boat parade been both so unexpected and yet seemingly the result of an inevitable destiny.
And when we say "live in peace," we mean just that.
This is your golden opportunity to walk away from the Red Sox. They will never top this. At least not in your lifetime. We'll check back in 2108.
Winning a championship at Fenway Park, in the wake of their worst finish in 47 years, after undergoing a complete franchise exorcism, and aiding the revival of a city shattered by the Boston Marathon bombings and their aftermath.
It's a story-line that makes "Fever Pitch" look like a Ken Burns documentary on the Big Dig.
Here's your ultimate opportunity to get off the "Good Ship Red Sox" forever with your beard in tact. Walk away on top, move on with your life and perhaps focus on more important things like reading, exercise or playing the guitar. No more "Sweet Caroline" when they're losing 6-1, no more extra-inning games in Seattle, no more agonizing losses to the Yankees or Rays, no more arguments over the Jake Peavy-Jose Iglesias trade.
$9 beers? It's always happy hour at "T.G.I. Friday's." You can't see half of left field from your wooden seat installed during the Great Depression for someone living off 250 calories a day? "Gravity" is playing in 6D-IMAX down the street. Rain delay in Baltimore? Every movie ever made is on Netflix, DirecTV or the internet.
Come on, let it go. Cash in your chips. Walk with a smile.
It all sounds so tempting.
But these are the Red Sox. This choice is too easy.
If you came back after 2012, why leave now?
You will inevitably decide to stick around, step on the gas and say "let's go for two."
Keep it coming. Keep on living. Keep keeping the faith.
Wednesday's "heroes du jour" for the Red Sox included Shane Victorino, who unloaded a bases loaded triple off Michael Wacha, and Stephen F-Yeah Drew, who got off the World Series schneid with a home run. Drew's blast landed in the Red Sox bullpen, made it 4-0 and figuratively gassed up the Duck Boats.
If you want to be Wacha for Halloween tonight, wear red, lose all your candy and be home in bed by 9:32 p.m.
John Lackey completed his "Go [Expletive] Yourself Redemption Tour" by getting the victory after allowing just one run in 6.2 innings. It was the second World Series-clincher of his career.
They chanted "Lackey. Lackey" all night without any profanity at Fenway. He got another standing ovation when he left in the seventh with the bases loaded.
The circle of life comes full circle.
The Red Sox won 97 games and the A.L. East in the regular season and continued undaunted through the playoffs. A team that reportedly could not defeat quality pitching beat 2011 AL Cy Young Award winner David Price in the ALDS, 2012 Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander once and 2013 Cy Young Award favorite Max Scherzer twice in the ALCS and 19-game winner Adam Wainwright twice in the World Series.
This year was all about survival. The Red Sox began the season with a motto of "Please Stop Hating Us More Than A-Rod" amid predictions of 80-something wins on the upside. Then they metaphorically joined the Bruins and did everything a sports franchise can do to help in the civic and often personal healing process.
No adult is foolish enough to believe a baseball championship can replace a missing limb, erase the trauma of being in Copley Square at 2:49 p.m. on April 15, or numb the pain caused by the loss of a son, a daughter, a sister or one's "little brother," also known as Martin, Lingzi, Krystle and Sean.
They are gone but not forgotten. Never.
Sadly, the Red Sox cannot raise the dead. Nor are the Red Sox in the business of performing miracles, unless they occur on the baseball diamond. They are, at their core, a form of entertainment. And expensive entertainment at that. Just 90 minutes before game time, pair of seats two rows behind the Red Sox dugout would have cost you $11,663 on Ace Ticket [including service charge.]
The Red Sox permeate our lives with an emotional pull and intensity only rivaled by that caused our family, friends, politics and religion. We give them our time, our money, our hearts and minds, and all too often, our children.
The 2013 Red Sox brought this franchise, reviled in these parts just a year ago, back into the soul of New England. The way the Red Sox played this year, from the early days of spring training through Wednesday night in Game 6, was baseball the way it was intended. Players played hard, pitchers threw strikes, batters worked counts, managers managed. All those wacky baseball fundamentals that got devoured by "The Monster" quietly arrived in Fort Myers and on Yawkey Way.
Surprisingly, this World Series was a sloppy mess on the field, punctuated by [two too many] crazy throws to third base, obstruction calls and game-ending pickoffs. But it also had the white-hot dominance of World Series MVP-shoo-in David Ortiz , the steel-in-his-balls pitching of Jon Lester and the clean-shaven foreign influence of Koji Uehara.
"This is for you, Boston, you guys deserve it. For all of you, for all the families who struggled through the bombing earlier this year, this is for all of you," Ortiz told the Fenway crowd after getting his new MVP trophy and truck. "I want to thank the best fans in baseball ... my teammates, the best teammates ever. You guys are legit."
The Most Valuable Papi.
Neither Lester nor Lackey will have to pick up the tab for another Bud Light or Popeye's combo in Boston for the rest of their lives.
The haters, cynics and tin-foil-hat brigades in Pennsyltucky and elsehwere want you to believe Ortiz is the only player in major-league baseball tested not being tested for PEDs. It's part of the conspiracy, don't you know?
This is the second "Once In A Lifetime" Red Sox" team in the past 10 years. Their 2004 ancestors exorcised all those demons by eliminating the Yankees after trailing 3-0 and then sweeping these same Cardinals for Boston first World Series title in 86 years.
This year's Red Sox went from worst to first in the greatest tale of redemption since Scrooge's journey to the past, present and future on Christmas Eve.
The foundation for this Improbable Dream was laid in the wreckage of the 2011 season. Once billed as the "Greatest Team in Baseball," those bloated, whiny, overpaid and under-performing Red Sox completed the worst September collapse in their history, after a history of epic September collapses.
You can fill in the rest.
Wednesday's World Series championship, the eighth for the Red Sox, completed the full evolution of the Red Sox from a single-cell creature buried amid the fallout of the Nuclear Winter to a multi-headed, flame-throwing, bearded beast that won 108 games, the American League East title, their first playoff game in 1,812 days along with the ALDS and the American League pennant, thanks in large part to grand-slams from Shane Victorino'sand Ortiz. .
There are truly too many people to thank. The list goes from from Ben Cherington to Magic Johnson, from John W. Henry and Larry Lucchino, to John Farrell and his coaches, to Ortiz, to Dustin Pedroia, to Lackey, to Lester, to Mike Napoli, to Victorino, to David Ross and every other player on their roster [except for perhaps Craig Breslow].
Don't forget Joel Hanrahan's playoff share. Thinking he's good for a couple of Fenway Franks and a free Coke.
Most importantly, thank yourself for giving them an undeserved second [or perhaps third, fourth or fifth] chance. They rewarded you with the season you'll never forget for all the right reasons.
Enjoy this celebration for a few days and be sure to load up on Red Sox swag in time for the holidays.
But don't forget, pitchers and catchers report in a little more than three months.
2014 will be here before you know it.
"Let's go for two."
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