The Red Sox are dead. Long live the Red Sox, the 2004 World Series Champion Red Sox. The curse has been ended. The ghost of Babe Ruth has been vanquished. The dawn of a new era has begun.OK, that may be a trifle melodramatic, but one thing is certain: 2004 will forever mark a turning point in Red Sox Nation history. Eleven days ago Boston was staring at yet another long, cold winter of discontent. Today life has never been brighter or better. Eight straight victories in the postseason have a way of altering one’s perspective. After making things as difficult as possible against the Yankees, the Sox finally took it easy on themselves by sweeping the Cardinals.
The Red Sox faced questions all season long. The acquisitions of Schilling and Foulke let everybody know they were in it for the biggest prize. They jumped out to an early lead in the AL East, only to surrender that lead to the Yankees mid-season, never to regain it. Every time they closed the gap, they lost the big game. There was the Garciaparra trade. There was Pedro calling the Yankees his daddy. Derek Lowe was banished to the bullpen with an unflattering 5.42 regular season ERA.
And the questions didn’t stop once the postseason got underway. Schilling’s ankle threatened to ruin everything. Being down 3-0 to the Yankees and giving up a record 19 runs weren’t making things easy either. It seemed like the same old story, except that it wasn’t.
There will be no telling what made this year so different from the previous 86, or why this team succeeded where so many others failed.
However, I will venture one hypothesis. The 2004 Boston Red Sox seemed to trust each other completely. They never panicked. They never gave up. They genuinely believed in one another, and they all delivered when their team needed them most. From Schilling, Lowe, and Wakefield, to Ortiz, Damon, and Manny, they all did whatever was asked of them. In some cases they did more. And in so doing they reminded me of a former World Series Champion: the 1998-2000 Yankees. Those Yankees always believed they would win, no matter whom they were playing, or what the odds.
It now appears that these Red Sox feel the same way. The Red Sox are dead. Long live the Red Sox.