Has it really been less than two years since the Red Sox paid tribute to the 2004 champs?
All, right, all right, let’s forget about that strange get-together toward the tail end of the tedious year-long programming schedule in 2012 that was “Fenway 100.” We all knew the eight-year celebration was a hackneyed tribute created to fit under the umbrella of Fenway Park’s birthday celebration. And as Bobby Valentine’s Sox neared completion of their freefall, the forced moment felt even more woefully out of place.
On Wednesday, we get the one we always expected.
It’s been nine years, seven months since that captivating evening in St. Louis capped off a magical stretch of October a decade ago, close enough for a deserving 10-year party. Children conceived that night the Red Sox could finally call themselves World Series champions, amidst the delirium and a lunar eclipse, are scheduled to finish the third grade in a matter of weeks. Back in 2004, the Patriots only had two Super Bowl titles to flaunt. The Bruins and Celtics were both still licking lengthy championship droughts. Bieber had only turned 10.
As for the Red Sox, they of course ended an 86-year-old streak that year by sweeping the Yankees from an 0-3 deficit, then steamrolling the Cardinals for their first World Series title since 1918. Ten years and two more titles later, it’s impossible to forget just how much damned fun that entire run was.
For the first time since 2012, the Red Sox will honor the “curse-busters” in a pre-game ceremony Wednesday at Fenway Park, and the RSVP list includes a healthy amount of names who weren’t here for the phony production two years ago. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of reception is in store for Johnny Damon, who hasn’t heard a Fenway cheer since he high-tailed it to the Bronx in 2006. Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe, Jason Varitek, and Orlando Cabrera will, no doubt, receive thunderous applause. Guys like Jason Shiell, Lynn Jones, and Adam Hyzdu – well, appreciative acknowledgement for all.
Not all are scheduled to be in attendance, of course. Kevin Youkilis is still an outcast in Japan. Dave Roberts is bench coach with the San Diego Padres. Bill Mueller is the Chicago Cubs’ hitting coach. Terry Francona’s Indians will be in Los Angeles, which really makes you wonder why the Red Sox didn’t schedule the proceedings when Cleveland would be in town in mid-June instead of some random Wednesday night in May. Doug Mirabelli probably mistook a Ranger Rick magazine subscription card for his RSVP. Curt Schilling has been spending the bulk of this year battling cancer.
As for Manny Ramirez, whether or not he shows up will prove to be just as much an enigma as it was in his playing days.
Ramirez wasn’t on the original docket of expected attendees that the Red Sox sent out on April 30- a list that also included Trot Nixon, Kevin Millar, Mike Timlin, Keith Foulke, Tim Wakefield, Abe Alvarez, Ellis Burks, Cesar Crespo, Lenny DiNardo, Ron Jackson, Gabe Kapler, Curtis Leskanic, Dave McCarty, Ramiro Mendoza, Mike Myers, Pokey Reese, Phil Seibel, Jason Sheill, and Scott Williamson – but two weeks later, the club confirmed the former slugger’s presence at the celebration via Twitter.
— Boston Red Sox (@RedSox) May 15, 2014
Over the weekend though came news that Ramirez had signed with the Chicago Cubs as a player-coach for Triple-A Iowa, and though a Red Sox spokesperson said on Tuesday that the team still expected Ramirez to attend, keep in mind that depending on Ramirez is like counting on those money tree seeds your pals picked up at the gag shop. You’ll probably know when they know, which is to mean, most likely when the Fenway PA announcer sees him on the field.
We can only assume David Ortiz will also attend.
In a season like the current Red Sox are enduring, “ten” isn’t exactly a number many fans or players want to hear; only recently coming off a losing streak of the same proportions. But on Wednesday, it puts Joe Castiglione’s series-clinching call of “Can you believe it?” in a whole new light.
It’s really been a decade, huh?
Three rings later, and still nothing will ever be more enjoyable than what that team delivered, a storybook stretch that began with Grady Little and Aaron Boone a year earlier, and ended in a joy few Red Sox fans could have imagined a fortnight earlier, after a 19-8 embarrassment all but spelled Boston’s doom in the ALCS. That’s when the fun began.
They’ll remind us of that on Wednesday. The current roster may want to listen.