Friday, October 2, 2009

ON SPORTS ~ Curse Reversed...


Curse Reversed:

where previously Molly enjoyed seeing the Yankees become the biggest chokers in sports history...

On October 23rd of 2004 the Red Sox made a return appearance to the World Series after 18 years. They hadn't won one in 86 years. They were matched up against the St. Louis Cardinals. My first love! But this time, instead of admiring those pretty red birds perched on the uniform's bat, I wanted to shoo them right out of town.

I remember the date well enough because we were attending a wedding that evening in New Jersey. We were surrounded by dejected Yankee fans both at the reception and in the bar. You see, while the wedding DJ was spinning cheesy 80's tunes and trying to get everyone up and dancing, we migrated to the bar located just off the reception room where it was packed with wedding guests and brides and grooms from earlier weddings throughout the afternoon. The bride and groom from the wedding we were attending knew going in that they were going to lose a large contingency of their guests to the World Series viewing. And they didn't mind, unlike that other wedding we attended in 1999 where playoff viewing became risky business. We celebrated our friends' marriage and a close victory in Game 1 with all of our new friends in the bar and wondered if we would have as much fun watching the rest of the games play out.

Game 2 featured Curt Schilling on the mound again with his surgically repaired ankle being shown via camera closeup on Fox ad nauseum. It also had 4 Red Sox errors, just like the game before. Typically pitching and defense win big games. But here the Sox were making 8 combined errors in the first two games of the World Series and they won both of them. Their offense was making up for bad defense and their pitching held up their end of the bargain from start to finish. When the Sox left Boston for St. Louis for games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary) we all wondered if they'd really actually win the damn thing and not have to come back to Fenway to do it.

Here's what stands out to me from Game 3. Manny's homer to set the tone in the 1st. Pedro's long awaited World Series start where he threw a gem. And Cardinals Pitcher Jeff Suppan getting happy feet at 3rd base costing his team a much needed run when his coach told him to GO GO GO and his mind heard NO NO NO and therefore he just shuffled his feet back and forth doing a little confused dance while Big Papi threw him out. The media made such a big deal about the Sox pitchers not being used to hitting and baserunning and Ortiz not being used to playing the field instead of just DH'ing. And yet it was the National League pitcher making a costly baserunning blunder and Ortiz making the heads up play from First Base. Things were just going the Sox' way. They won again.

So for Game 4, we went over to our friends' house. The same ones who we visited the year before for a sad Sox playoff loss. In the back of my mind I was worried that this might jinx things. Then I remembered that our friends had a lovely red living room where we settled in for the game and I felt for sure that must be a good sign. Never mind the fact that St. Louis' color is red too. I remember on the ride over the pre-game radio show mentioned that the Sox had never had a World Series championship broadcast over TV or Radio for that matter because that technology didn't exist back in 1918. It was about damn time.

And then Johnny Damon led the game off with a home run and we all exhaled. Derek Lowe was on the mound, as he had been to clinch the winning games for each of their two previous playoff series. The Cardinals had never had a lead in the World Series. An unbelievable stat. They had an incredible offense. Albert Pujols for god's sake! And every Sox pitcher made them look befuddled. In the middle of the game, the moon glowed red. Some weird weather phenomenon. I stepped outside for a smoke break and looked up and prayed to the red moon. With a lead and no runs on the board for the Cards, we switched over to the radio for the final inning. We wanted to be the first to hear what a Sox World Series championship sounded like on radio. It sounded heavenly!

When Sox Closer Keith Foulke fielded the come backer to the mound, bobbled it ever so briefly, and flipped it underhand to First Base to end the game, it felt like the greatest thing I'd ever deserved. They swept the Angels, had the reverse sweep of the Yankees, and then swept the Cardinals - never allowing them to lead a single inning of the World Series. Derek Lowe was the winning pitcher in the deciding game of each series. Manny Ramirez, who the Sox tried to get rid of before the season, was named World Series MVP. Johnny Pesky, the sweetest human being you could ever know, finally got to witness a Sox victory after living with blame for botching a play in the 1946 World Series against the Cardinals. He is a living legend in Red Sox Nation and approaching 90 years old he was still on the Sox staff. Every single player wanted to find him, hug him and see him smile through his tears of joy.

I smiled through my own tears of joy, hugging Andy and our friends, and then went outside where the moon was no longer red, but still beautiful for answering my prayers. And then I called my brother and told him to get his ass out of New Jersey and into Boston in time for the victory parade that weekend.

next week, THE AFTERMATH, in which Boston throws a big pah-ty...


Mike said...

I was going to post about the yankees championships, but I would not have enough time or blogspace! I need to follow a team that only wins one or two every 100 years or so! LMAO!!!!!!

Unknown said...

I like to watch baseball and my daughter's softball, but honestly, I don't really follow any but my daughter's rec and travel teams. My hubby is the real expert - about what's going on in the major leagues and as UIC for several girls softball tournaments and leagues, the local expert on all the rules. Maybe I tune it out a lot as that seems to be 99.9% of his conversation with anybody and it gets old (well, old for me - he loves it).