Boston Exorcises Its Ghosts to Win World Series

With Halloween and Game 7, if necessary, scheduled this Sunday, the Boston Red Sox decided against waiting until then to exorcise the ghosts that have haunted them for 86 years. The infamous "Curse" had tormented them for so long that they finally had enough of the mythical hexes and will leave that for long-time Red Sox fan and author Stephen King to write about.

On Oct. 27, 2004, in St. Louis, the Red Sox defeated the Cardinals, 3-0, to claim their first World Series title since 1918. They did so in commanding fashion by sweeping a mighty St. Louis team, en route to their sixth championship in franchise history.

"It's an unbelievable feeling," said winning pitcher Derek Lowe. "This is a tremendous feat. No more going to Yankee Stadium and having to listen to 1918, finally."

No Mr. Lowe, there will be no more of that, especially since 1918 was over eight decades ago. Vitamin C, the supplement, not the one-hit wonder, was not even discovered yet. Not to mention, women were not allowed to vote and the two other major sports leagues, the NFL and the NBA, were not even established.

To say that a lot of time has elapsed since the last Red Sox championship is an extreme understatement. It has definitely been a long time coming for several generations of Red Sox fans.

"We know people who are 90 years old who have just said: 'Just one championship before I die,'" proclaimed Red Sox chairman Tom Werner. Those long-suffering fans in Red Sox Nation can now enjoy the fulfillment of a Boston championship, which many thought would never happen in their lifetime.

"We just overcame what a lot of people could not even realize," said Johnny Damon, who led off Game 4 with a homerun to keep Boston's foot on the accelerator.

The Red Sox would add two more runs in the third inning on a double by Trot Nixon to extend the lead to 3-0. It proved to be more than enough for Lowe as he stifled the Cardinals' bats through seven spectacular innings, allowing no runs on three hits.

"We know how good the Cardinals are and we know that if they had a chance to score first, the momentum would have shifted in their favor," Damon said.

As it turned out, the momentum never shifted away from the Red Sox as they controlled the entire series in convincing fashion, becoming just the fourth team in World Series history to never allow a lead to the opposing team in any of the games. They reduced the Cardinals to mere chicks.

"We didn't set out in spring training to get to this moment and lose," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "There's absolutely no consolation. We're bitterly disappointed."

After Lowe departed in the seventh frame, Bronson Arroyo and Alan Embree combined for a scoreless eighth inning. Former Giants farmhand Keith Foulke entered the ninth inning to nail down his first save of the series, and more importantly, retired the last batter to launch that elusive World Series victory for the Red Sox.

Foulke got Edgar Renteria to hit a chopper back to the mound and the first thing on the closer's mind was to get to first base safely. He underhanded the ball to first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz, then jumpstarted a celebration that released 86 years of frustration.

Manny Ramirez was named the series MVP after going 7-for-17 (.412 batting average) against St. Louis and extended his postseason hitting streak to 17 games, tying a major league record.

"I don't believe in curses," said the slugger. "I think you have to make your own destination and we did it. We believe in each other. We went out there, we played relaxed, and grinded it out."

The "team" concept confirmed the Red Sox party line as several members of the organization cited the "Believe-in-Team" philosophy in virtually all interviews during the post-game celebrations.

"You don't come back from 3-0 against the Yankees for yourself, you do it for the other 24 guys," Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said. "These guys cared so much about each other and that's what makes it so special. I'm so happy for them."

Perhaps the most defining member of them all was ace pitcher Curt Schilling and all his "Red Sock" glory. When asked about his heroic efforts in pitching on an injured right ankle that requires surgery, he reaffirmed the unity in the clubhouse when he said: "We would have given everything we had of each other for each other. I'm so proud of being on the greatest team that has every played in Boston Red Sox history."

Indeed, Schilling was part of an historic team that dubbed itself "idiots" in honor of their fun-loving, care-free approach to the game. Red Sox manager Terry Francona said after the game: "As unique as everybody was, they came together as a ballclub. Nobody did anything to be different. They all did it as a ballclub."

In addition to being "idiots," the Red Sox had an affinity for growing their hair in not-so-fashionable lengths and styles, and as Francona intimated, they decided not to be different from each other and collectively grew their hairstyles in unorthodox ways. "Weâ're idiots this year," said Damon, perhaps the most infamous owner of hair-dos. "We were cowboys [last year], but you know what? When all is said and done, we are now the 2004 World Champions."

It's hard to argue with Damon's take on a ballclub that ended its season in story-book fashion, a happy ending even Stephen King could be proud of.



Phil Delacruz was a transplanted Giants fan, buried in the Southland. After four strenuous years in College, studying (read: partying), he's back in the beautiful "City by the Bay" – San Francisco. Do you think he should move back to LALA land? Or do you like him where he is now and appreciate the good reads? Either way, send him an e-mail at phildelacruz@aol.com to air out your frustrations or, more likely, songs of praise.

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