1918 is just a number now!
I knew I would see this. I didn't know if it was going to take 20 or 30 or 100 more years, but I knew I'd see it. Heck, I hope I live to see a second one.
-- Johnny Pesky, 85 years young
Swing and a ground ball, stabbed by Foulke. He has it. He underhands to first. And the Boston Red Sox are the World Champions. For the first time in 86 years, the Red Sox have won baseball's World Championship. Can you believe it?
It's 4:00 am, October 28, 2004. I just won the World Series! Well, my Red Sox did, anyways, which is the same thing, right? I'm afraid to go to bed, because I might wake up and find out it's not really true.
The whole month has been pretty surreal. A sweep of the Angels that seemed too good to be true. Then three straight losses to the Yankees, in which Curt got hurt, Pedro was decent but lost anyway, and a horrible 19-8 drubbing.
I was there for that one. As a Tenth Man Plan holder, I was allowed a ticket to a Division Series game. My ticket was for Game 4, if necessary. With the sweep, it wasn't necessary, so I got to buy an ALCS ticket, which, because of a rainout, ended up being for Game 3. I went in determined to cheer as hard as I could to bring home the much needed win. Instead I witnessed one of the most painful games I've ever attended. I felt like Homer in the Simpsons episode where he tries to ski, but ends up falling down the mountain with his legs doing a split and rocks and snow hitting him on the way down. He's moaning, "This is the worst pain ever!" But David Ortiz would later say he saw the dejected looks on the fans' faces in Game 3, and used it as inspiration for the next four games.
The comeback made the ALCS one of the most dramatic and exciting series in history. In Game 4, one inning away from being swept by the Yankees, facing Mariano Rivera, Kevin Millar walked. Dave Roberts pinch-ran, stole second, and scored on Bill Mueller's single up the middle. Ortiz won it with a walk-off homer in the twelfth inning, and anything seemed possible. Later that same day, he won Game 5 with a bloop hit in the fourteenth inning, as each game topped the previous day's record for longest postseason game. It was back to New York for Game 6, and Curt Schilling's heroic "bloody sock" game. That day was Mark Bellhorn's chance to break out, as his homer proved to be the game-winner. Johnny Damon was the offensive star of Game 7, as the Sox became the first team in history to come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a seven-game series.
After such a time-consuming and emotionally-draining ALCS, would they have anything left for the World Series? Big Papi didn't take long to put that question to rest, swatting a three-run homer in the first inning of Game 1, and the Sox never looked back. They went on to sweep St. Louis in four games. Red Sox pitching was so dominating that the Cardinals never had the lead in any of the games.
Very surreal indeed! Manny was the MVP, just like the commercial where he's buying sneakers and daydreaming, "The Red Sox, behind MVP Manny Ramirez, win the World Series." They actually played that commercial during the pre-game show, and it brought tears to my eyes when I thought it could really come true. Ditto with Curt's Ford commercial, originally filmed before the season started, where he's hitch-hiking to Boston because "I've got to go break an 86-year-old curse."
A 3-0 score in Game 4 was closer than I wanted, but what's a little more drama after all we've been through? Keith Foulke finished it off, and we had won! Really! I was jumping up and down and screaming, and my hands were shaking when I tried to dial the phone to celebrate with my parents over the phone.
In the coming days, this section of RedSoxDiehard.com will contain all the box scores, game recaps, players, parade coverage, pictures, and stories of the 2004 post-season. But for now, I'm off to bed. After all, in only a couple of hours, I've got to go out and buy a newspaper, just to make sure this is true!
-- Joe Castiglione, 10/27/04, 11:40 pm