Storybook ending actually comes true

10/21/2004

 By Jim ďDocĒ Sabin

Itís finally over.

Eighty-six years after the most superstitious sport in America dropped its most potent curse, the Boston Red Sox finally seem to have broken free, and exorcised a few demons in the process.

Four score and six years ago, this club kicked off the first professional sports fire sale, and has been paying for it ever since. But not today.

Today, the Boston Red Sox are kings of the American League. No, they havenít won the World Series; they may yet fail to conquer that portion. But today, at 12:01 a.m., the Fenway Faithful got the gift theyíve been waiting for all these years; the team that could, and did, overcome near-impossible odds, against the dreaded Evil Empire, the New York Yankees, on their turf, in their forum.

It almost didnít happen. Twice, the Yankees were a few outs away from ending this thing, with Mariano Rivera, the most effective closer in postseason history, ready to slam the door. Didnít work.

And even in Game 7, with the Sox out to an 8-1 lead, they almost found a way to blow it. The Yankees were despondent; Yankee Stadium was silent. Until Terry Francona did the inexplicable, bringing in Pedro Martinez on short rest. Nothing could have fired up that crowd, that stadium, more, and the Yanks immediately put up a pair of runs before Pedro managed to escape. But it didnít matter.

Somehow, images of George Steinbrenner falling down a shaft, lightning flashing from his fingers, comes to mind, with an un-masked George Herman "Babe" Ruth standing above, having finally cast down the curse and let the good guys win for a change. The dark side has fallen.

Oh, there are still challenges. The Houston Astros are no small concern. Neither are the St. Louis Cardinals. It doesnít matter which team squares off against the Sox; both are formidable opponents. Will it be the Pujols/Rolen/Edmonds triumvirate that made even the Yankees show grudging respect? Or will it be the Killer Bís, led by Captain K himself, the Red Sox castoff, Roger Clemens?

Doesnít matter. Today, the Red Sox humiliated the Yankees. Today, the Red Sox conquered the only foe that truly mattered.

They say to break a curse, it takes a remarkable effort. Just a year ago, the faithful of the Red Sox and the equally-frustrated Cubs performed all sorts of rituals as the two entered the postseason.

This ritual had to take place on the field. Down three games to none, the Red Sox faced a mountain no team in baseball history has climbed. This wasnít just a mountain; this was Mount Everest, Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount St. Helens on a bad day, all rolled into one. Twenty-five teams faced this mountain. No team got even halfway to the pinnacle.

And no team, perhaps, faced a bigger rival, a bigger foe. David faced Goliath without so much as a stone to throw, let alone a sling to throw it with. And yet, they packed a few punches nobody knew about. 

Oh, they knew Curt Schilling was there. They thought him too gimpy to climb the dugout stairs, let alone shut down the powerful Yanks. And they knew Pedro was there; they thought they had his number. And maybe they were right.

They knew about Manny Ramirez. They didnít know Boston could win without him.

They knew about David Ortiz. Or so they thought. Nobody in America knew this guy had THAT much nerve, that much steel in his backbone. Or that heíd look like, well, Manny Ramirez.

They didnít know about Derek Lowe. Not much of anyone outside of Derek Lowe knew about Derek Lowe, at least not any more.

They knew this was a good team. They knew this was a great team. But they didnít have any idea that this would be the most resilient team ever.

They know now, and so does the rest of America. This team, for the first time since World War I was freshly over, is not cursed. They did what no team has done before; they did it against their archrivals, their oppressors.

Thereís no better way to break a curse.