Thursday, October 28, 2004

The News from Boston


They did it for the old folks in Presque Isle, Maine, and White River Junction, Vt. They did it for the baby boomers in North Conway, N.H., and Groton, Mass. They did it for the kids in Central Falls, R.I., and Putnam, Conn.

While church bells rang in small New England towns and horns honked on the crowded streets of the Hub, the 2004 Red Sox last night won the 100th World Series, completing a four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals with a 3-0 victory on the strength of seven innings of three-hit pitching by Derek Lowe. Playing 1,042 miles from Fenway Park, the Sox won it all for the first time in 86 long and frustrating seasons.

“This is like an alternate reality,” said Sox owner John W. Henry, soaked in champagne (Mount Pleasant, 2003 Brut Imperial). “All of our fans waited their entire lives for this.”

True. New England and a sprawling Nation of Sox fans can finally exhale. The Red Sox are World Champs. No more Curse of the Bambino. No more taunts of “1918.” The suffering souls of Bill Buckner, Grady Little, Mike Torrez, Johnny Pesky, and Denny Galehouse are released from Boston Baseball’s Hall of Pain. The Red Sox are champions because they engineered the greatest comeback in baseball history when they won four straight games against the hated Yankees in the American League Championship Series. It was a baseball epic, an event for the ages putting the Sox into a World Series that was profoundly anticlimactic.

En route to eight consecutive postseason wins, the Sons of Tito Francona simply destroyed a Cardinal team that won a major league-high 105 games in 2004. The Sox did not trail for a single inning of the four-game sweep. No Cardinal pitcher lasted more than six innings and St. Louis’s vaunted row of sluggers was smothered by the likes of Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, closer Keith Foulke, and Lowe. The Cards batted .190 in the Series with cleanup man Scott Rolen going 0 for 15.

In the finale, a game played under a full moon/lunar eclipse on the date of Boston’s Game 7 loss in the excruciating 1986 World Series, Johnny Damon led off with a home run and the Sox were never threatened. Trot Nixon added a pair of runs with a bases-loaded double in the third. Lowe mowed down the Cardinals for seven innings, then let relievers Bronson Arroyo, Alan Embree, and Foulke finish the job.

It ended at 11:40 p.m. EDT when Edgar Renteria went out on an easy grounder to Foulke. Foulke ran toward first and underhanded the ball to first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz. A half hour later, the historic ball was locked in the grasp of Mientkiewicz’s right hand. [Boston Globe]

Well, Judy, Stephen, Eunice, John, and Tim (and anyone else I know from Boston), here’s to your joy. You’ve earned it.