Editor’s Note: This was written on Sunday afternoon with the Boston Red Sox up 3-1 against the L.A. Dodgers in the 2018 World Series.
I’ve spent the past couple weeks in Boston doing some soul searching. Basically, I’m trying to figure out the intricacies of my 22-year-old life. I have a plan and I’ll catch up with classes, but for now, it’s a time of growth.
The weather here in late-October New England is mild and mostly cloudy—some nights, it’s cold. The oaks and maples, red and yellow, drench the landscape in color. In my hilly temporary home just outside the city, the foliage float in the blue sky like buoys and stick out like neon trail markers before the overcast sky. Last night, a nor’easter blew through—the first of the season. There will be more, drowning this state in snow and sleet and wind, but for now, the storms only bring rain and zephyrs.
This is a city that now unequivocally holds the title as the most successful sports city of the 21st century. Between the Celtics, Patriots, Bruins and Red Sox, Boston has claimed a championship ten times since the turn of the century—it will be eleven if the Red Sox win tonight. All four major sports have won a championship in the last ten years.
The only other city in America that even approaches the regality of Boston sports is San Francisco, with their Giants and Warriors. Still, the Bay Area pales in comparison to Boston’s national, perennial dominance across professional American sports. They are a spoiled city that is just barely beginning to recognize it. As a Panthers/Hornets fan myself, I recognize it. Thankfully, as far as the NFL goes, Tom Brady, at this point the undisputed best quarterback to ever play the game, is entering the twilight of his career. But this article isn’t about the Patriots, or the Bruins, or even the up-and-coming Celtics.
It is about the Red Sox, the 86 years of almost-fatalistic cruelty that Sox fans had to endure from 1918 to 2004, and the new identity this team, and this city, has earned over the past 14 years.
For the uninitiated, in 1919, fresh off their 1918 World Series victory, the Red Sox traded all-time great Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for a bunch of cash. Between spates of misfortune and game-ending snafus, the Red Sox would not win the World Series for another 86 years. This became known as “The Curse of the Bambino.”
But when they did finally win, my, oh my, what a spectacle it was.
I remember their 2004 playoff run clearly. My dad hated the Yankees and I, being an impressionable eight-year-old, spurned a hatred of the Yankees myself. New York went up 3-0 in the series—at that point, a lead that was seemingly impossible to overcome. Then came David Ortiz’ 12th inning walk-off home run in Game Four. Then came another Ortiz walk-off in Game Five—this time, a 14th inning single to centerfield that drove Johnny Damon home. Then, in New York, came Curt Schilling’s “Bloody Sock Game,” in which he had a torn tendon sutured up—which promptly opened again, bloodying his sock.
Schilling delivered a seven-inning start, surrendering only one run. Boston won that game and advanced to an unprecedented Game Seven after being down 3-0.
And then came Johnny Damon’s world-famous Grand Slam in the top of the second inning to bring the Red Sox up 6-0. They went on to crush the Yankees in Yankee Stadium 10-3, and advanced to the 2004 World Series. I watched every second of every game—my parents let me stay up late.
The Sox rode their moment into the World Series, decisively defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in a clean, four-game sweep. The Curse of the Bambino was finally broken, and the flood gates opened over the next decade. They won three World Series in nine years, and look to capture their fourth of the century tonight.
Still, 3-1 leads don’t mean squat unless you finish out the series. The Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Cavaliers taught us that in 2016. But even if they blow their lead, there will be no whispers of the return of the Curse. The Red Sox are here to stay.
They have guts, grit and toughness, just like their hometown does. They do everything they do with passion and pride, just like their city.
I’m glad I’m here while the World Series enters the home stretch. I share it with the friends I have here. This time of the year, with the Red Sox so close to glory, there is some kind of unspoken connection amongst Bostonians that is palpable but not exactly quantifiable. I’ve seen it in the Dean Dome after UNC won it all in 2017 and Charlotte after a big Panthers win, but it hasn’t ever been on this scale. I’m still not exactly sure what it is, much less how to describe it.
If I figure it out, I’ll let you know.
Editor’s Note: As of late Sunday night, the Red Sox have won the World Series. You could see the fireworks from my balcony. 86 years of heartbreak, then four championships in 15 years. Go figure.