So there you have it. As efficiently and as workmanlike as you’ll ever see, the Red Sox dispatched the Cardinals last night with remarkable ease, and the entire New England region collectively exhaled. It is over. Of course, there was a never a curse to begin with – through these years there was only weakness on certain teams and simple bad luck on the part of some others. The curse was just a label, a marginally evil marketing ploy, meant to sell books. Albeit, a compelling theory.
I find it especially sweet that when the Red Sox hoist their championship banner next April at Fenway Park, the team watching from the third base dugout will be the New York Yankees. It’s not enough for me that our comeback against them was one of historic proportions. It’s not enough for me that we got to pig-pile on their turf. I want them to watch us hang the banner as we cheer.
Throughout the years I had always vowed that if the Red Sox win the World Series, I would be in the city to experience it and take it all in. For reasons I don’t need to get into here, I ended up doing what I’ve done for each game so far in these playoffs – sitting at home watching it in HD on the big screen, with Steph co-piloting. Even she gets into the playoffs. How can you not?
I can’t really put into words what it all means. When Renteria hit that comebacker to Keith Foulke, the strangest feeling came over me. Warmth. Elation. Pride. I mean, at one point I was hugging Stephanie, actually laughing out loud and getting misty-eyed at the same time. I thought back to the heartbreak of 1986 and then felt even more elation and relief for the generation above me – the ones who remember not only 1986, but also 1975. 1967. 1946. This win covers us all. The Red Sox are one of the larger threads that ties our region and our families together. No matter what, if you find a Red Sox fan, you’ve found common ground – an understanding. It’s been said so many times that it’s become passe, but the truth rings even louder today: you really can’t understand what this means unless you were brought up here.
So minutes after the victory I thought about the people closest to me who weren’t able to see this. My grandfather on my dad’s side. A dedicated, fervent Red Sox fan. He died at the age of 93 back in 1994. It was he who secured four tickets to a Red Sox/Twins game back in 1979 and took me, my dad and my cousin to the game. My first in Fenway Park, and we sat about 15 rows behind home plate. It’s strange how clearly I remember walking into that place for the first time. My very first thought – nine years old – was that the wall was so grand that it didn’t look real. It looked like a cartoon. I’ll never forget it. Red Sox won 5-3. My grandfather would have reveled in this. He’s got a slightly used, fitted Red Sox cap from 1994 in his coffin right now. Courtesy of me, I put it there during his wake. Along with a beer. With any luck, that hat is on his head right now and the beer is empty. A strange sidenote: my dad (not a baseball fan) just emailed me that he fell asleep last night, but woke up to see the very last pitch. I don’t know why, but there’s something to that……
I think about my grandmother on my mom’s side. She was such a Red Sox fan right to the end! We had many conversations over the years, wondering if “this was the year” and I know she watched a heck of a lot of their games, because she knew things about the players and their stats that most people don’t. To think that she missed this by a mere 22 months is tough to take. If there was ever a time for me to try and firmly believe in the afterlife, that people can look down on us and see what’s going on, this is that time.
I think about my Uncle Donny. A grand human being in all aspects and another dedicated member of Red Sox Nation. Larger than life, funny, giving, strong and just a good person. Dammit, he should have been here to see this. He died in his early 30’s from a brain anerysm, back in 1986, just one month after the Mets/Red Sox debacle. To this day, he is the only person to ever literally pick me up and throw me. He was getting me out of the way when a tree he was cutting down didn’t fall the way he thought it would. To this day, I still see his face on nearly every person who drives a motorcycle on the road, hoping (yes, eighteen years later) that his death was a cruel hoax. I know it wasn’t. If he were to fake his death, he would have only done it for a couple of hours or something. Heh. He had that kind of personality. He was in my mind and heart last night in a major way.
There were others on my mind, of course. The thread. There’s so many other stories like this across our entire region that have been told today and over the last couple of days and that is what makes this so special. Myself, my friends, my family, old roommates, college friends – we’ll all have this now. Forever.