One for the books

October 22, 2004

WE ARE chowderheads today.

We are Brahmins. We are Southies. We are Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John F. Kennedy and Aerosmith. We love Old Ironsides, Faneuil Hall and swan boats in the Public Garden. We might even consider eating a meal of baked beans and brown bread. But, hey, there are limits.

The Boston Red Sox did something no team in the history of Major League Baseball had ever done before. After losing the first three games in the seven-game American League Championship Series, they won the final four to defeat the New York Yankees. The Empire didn't strike back this time around. This year, the Jedi won.

With their backs against the wall, the Sox were wicked good. No wonder they needed riot police to control the celebrations in Beantown on Wednesday night.

Maybe it was the joy of seeing the Yankees, the Microsoft of baseball with their $185 million payroll, collapse so utterly. Or maybe it was the heroics of the less-heralded players such as Bronson Arroyo or Orlando Cabrera. Or MVP David Ortiz making the clutch hits in the late innings. Or Curt Schilling's gutsy performance in Game 6, the blood from his stitched-up ankle staining his sock like Robert Redford's jersey in The Natural. Or the purely Baltimore-centered pleasure of knowing the American League's newest pennant winner lost 10 games to only one team this season -- that would be the Orioles, hon.

Make no mistake, this doesn't lift any curse. The sale of the Bambino still haunts this franchise like a bunch of Swift boat veterans. The Red Sox made it this far in 1986 before the ball bounced through Bill Buckner's legs. They'll have to win the whole enchilada for the first time in 86 years to force Babe Ruth's ghost into retirement.

Still, a team that can come back from the biggest deficit this side of George W's may be just the men needed to put a nail in that coffin. Die-hard Sox fans know it may all be an elaborate setup -- the emotional build-up before the inevitable letdown. Whatever the case, it's been an entertaining week in the championship series -- perhaps even worth all the sleep deprivation. The World Series begins tomorrow. Let's play ball.

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