By: Gregory Weagle
Remember that line from part one of TaleSpin's Plunder and Lightning where Baloo was trying to impress Kit by reading the newspaper? Before I created this website back in 1998; I was helping the now-defunct website TaleSpin Collectables which was owned by Debbie Madden. She had a fan page where the fans could write comments about themselves and I wrote how I was a big Boston Red Sox fan. I even went as far to say that the Sox would win the series in real life. For six years since that moment I felt that only in TaleSpin could the Boston Red Sox win a World Series Championship. It was completely unthinkable! Why?! There was a curse on the team since 1919 when the legend known as Babe Ruth and much of the structure of the organization was traded to the New York Yankees from Boston for a song. New York won tens of championships since then including one as recent as 2000. Boston hasn't won one since. It's impossible!! They choked in 1975 in a one-game playoff againest the Yankees with a Bucky Dent homerun. They lost to Saint Louis twice in game seven situations. They choked in 1986 in a play which has made Bill Buckner bitter towards the fans (and rightfully so since Bill was put in a situation that he wasn't really good at.)...and who could forget the 2003 ALCS when Pedro Martinez was kept in game seven too long and allowing the New York Yankees to beat them once again. There was a curse on this team and Boston would stay cursed for as long as the Boston Red Sox shall live. Sure; Boston is in the World Series for the first time since 1986. Sure; Boston is leading three games to zero againest Saint Louis and sure; they are one out away from destiny...But; it'll never happen because they are cursed...They will choke again...
"Back to Foulke! Red Sox's fan have been long awaiting. The Boston Red Sox are world champions!! - Joe Buck; Fox Commentator for Major League Baseball at 12:40 am local time on October 28th, 2004.
Yes; this is reality. The Sox win the series...FOR REAL!! As I stated many times before; if you want karma to strike just ask Baloo. It was such a rush for me after a moment that Red Sox Nation thought would NEVER happen in their lifetime. For five minutes I was cheering...It was a special moment after all and Boston earned that championship. However; after the five minutes was over, I had the same feelings I had before they won the series: I am so over this bullstuff!!
Now don't get me wrong; this was a year to remember as I saw just about anything that couldn't happen actually did happen. The team was called the self-proclaimed idoits. Johnny Damon was called "The Passion" because he looked like Jesus. Curt Schilling was injured all year and still managed to pitch well. Pedro Martinez looked human during the later half of the season. Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz each hit forty or more homeruns each. The most popular player in the organization Nomar Garciaparra was traded to the Chicago Cubs for Orlanda Cabrera and somehow Derek Lowe improved. Boston managed to pull off the best record after the All-Star break and win 98 games which was only enough for a wildcard spot. Boston started by sweeping the Anaheim Angels in three straight games with painless ease. This all meant a rematch with the New York Yankees...and that's where the problems start. Game one was a diaster as Curt Schilling ruptured his ankle and his pitching with south as Boston lost the game 10-7. Red Sox nation was apparently screwed as Schilling was not expected to play again for the rest of the playoff and needed surgery. Game two wasn't much better.. While Pedro's pitching was all right; the run support went south as Boston lost that game 3-1. Game three at Fenway Park was to be proof of the _demise_ of the Red Sox as Bryson Arroyo took the mound. His performance againest the Angels was pretty good; but the lust was completely gone. He couldn't do anything againest the Yankee bats. The bullpen was far worse and the hitting wasn't enough to overcome a final of 19-8. Boston was now down three games to none in the ALCS and it was Derek Lowe's turn to pitch game four. Game four was approching the darkest hour as Boston was trailing 4-3 with three outs away from a Yankee sweep in the bottom of the ninth with the Yankees ace closer Mariano Rivera on the mound who was as close to automatic in the post-season as you can get. It was certain doom for a tormented team. It was all over....
Now before I continue; I've heard about so many news organizations use the children's playground phrase "do-over" in relation to the elections in Ukraine. I'm going to invoke a children's playground phrase that you probably never of before. It is called the "winners role-play". Here's how it works: [1.] Your favorite team is in the playoffs and is a team that should have no chance of winning. [2.] Your team is one game away from elimination (usually three games to zero). [3.] The poor, insecure child starts the role-play the loser and role-plays it into a situation where the team wins the games, the series and the championship. The roleplaying takes about ten minutes to complete and it usually never works because the real life team loses. Why do I mention this at all?! Read on...
It all started when a guy called Dave Roberts was called in for a pitch runner and advanced to second base on an uncontested steal. He would get to third and several batters later; Bill Mueller drove Roberts in with a single to tie the game and force extra innings where David Oritz hits a two run shot in the bottom of the 12th to win Game four 6-4. There is step one of "winners role-play". Game five was similar as Boston was down 4-2 in the bottom of the eighth in which David Ortiz hits a solo homerun to start and then Dave Roberts gets on base again. Then there was a 20 minute period where pitcher Tom Gordan did nothing but try to keep Roberts at bay. Dave Roberts is a guy who Boston can for almost nothing by baseball's rich and greedy standards. In the end the bases were loaded and Mariano Rivera was pressed into service again. One batter; one sac. fly, one run scored, blown save, tied game. One loudmouth sport columnist from ESPN called this a bad omen and in the bottom of the 14th inning; David Oritz smacks a single into center allowing Johnny Damon to score the winning run. Boston wins the longest game in playoff history at nearly six hours with a 5-4 win. It was back to Yankee Stadium and then something happened that can be only described as nothing less than a miracle. Curt Schilling returned to the mound for Game Six as his sock was stained in red crimson blood. This was either brave or foolish for him. However; he still pitched like a great pitcher should and Boston wins Game Six and ties the series at three games a piece. This was the first baseball team to come back and tie a series; let alone win. Only two professional teams have actually come back from an 0-3 to win the series and both were National Hockey League teams. Still; the last one happened nearly three decades ago. So Boston was back to where it started in 2003; Game Seven of the ALCS in Yankee Stadium. There were two major differences: Derek Lowe was on the mound and the Yankees really had nothing left in the tank. The Yankee faithful went into desparation mode by bringing Bucky Dent in to throw the first pitch..It was no good as David Ortiz hits a two run shot in the first inning and then Johnny Damon (who was in a major slump batting wise) hits a Grand Slam in the second inning. Poor Kevin Brown; maybe punching a concreate wall was turely a bad idea after all. Johnny Damon added a two run shot for good measure.. Then in a moment that was proof that the Yankees were screwed; Pedro Martinez comes in the game just to get the crowd back into it with the "Who's Your Daddy?" chants in unison. Pedro allows two runs; but gets out of the inning....The Yankees were finished as at 12:55 am local time; Boston completes the biggest comeback in baseball history winning the game 10-3. That is step two of "winners role-play" as the Nation chant "Yankees Suck" in unison.
So Boston was hosting it's first World Series home game since 1986 (since the American League won the All-Star game). They would face the best team during the regular season; the 105 win Saint Louis Cardinals. So once again; Boston faces the team that they lost to in Game Seven situations. Boston had just made history and a hangover was in order...and Red Sox Nation knows that if Boston doesn't overcome this; then it's another year of pain and suffering. It was a very painful game to watch as Tim Wakefield's pitching was very poor and Boston managed to commit four errors overall. Still; the Boston bats couldn't be stopped and Boston would take Game One of the series 11-9. The window for Saint Louis was closing fast as Curt Schilling would take the mound; still in pain from the ruptured ankle which was making his sock red with crimson blood. Boston committed four more errors; but Saint Louis couldn't take advantage of them because of Curt Schilling's pitching and Boston takes Game two 6-2. See; the problem with Saint Louis is that many of their wins come againest weak teams and Boston can beat stronger teams (They were 11-8 againest the 103 win Yankees in the regular season.) without the need to play small ball. Small ball to them is a hard single up the middle. Game three went into Busch Stadium as Pedro Martinez takes to the mound and sturggles to start. However; despite his pitching the defense behind him suddenly becomes excellent as Manny Ramirez (who committed an major error earlier in the World Series) threw out Larry Walker at home to end the inning. Then later on; David Ortiz catches former Red Sox pitcher Jeff Suppan sleeping in the now infamous PICKLE OF DEATH. Jeff was thrown out to end the inning and Pedro was suddenly back to his own self as Boston wins Game Three 4-1. So that sets up October 27th; which was considered an omen because the clear night would showcase a lunar eclipse. Derek Lowe once again was on the mound for Boston as Red Sox Nation was waiting for that moment where Boston would choke again. Johnny Damon hit a solo shot in the first inning to take the lead as Derek Lowe was pitching like Curt Schilling at his best. Trot Nixon would add a two run double and by the time Derek Lowe left at the end of the seventh inning; it was 3-0 Boston. Boston went 34 straight innings without trailing and went 32/34 innings with the lead. Fox was playing The Total Eclipse of the Heart at that point. The end was near as Boston was one out away as Keith Foulke was on the mound with a 1-0 count on Edgar Renteria and Albert Pujols was on second base. Foulke throws the ball and Edgar would hit a high chopper. Foulke catches it and goes towards first base. He underhands it to Doug Mientkiewicz and the Red Sox Nation is just waiting for Foulke to overthow it or Doug to misplay it. It doesn't happen as Doug catches it perfectly and touches first base for the win, the four game sweep and the first World Series Championship since 1918 (sixth overall) at 12:40 am on October 28th, 2004... and this will be the first time that "winners role-play" turely worked. Red Sox nation can finally start to celebrate and rightfully so. It was an emotional moment which was more real than seeing Chris Benoit win his World Title from Triple-H in the Triple Threat Match at WrestleMania 20. Sure; I had tears, but WWE creative gave him the title even though he was loved by many and his performance was top-notch. Plus; he is a Canadian. The Boston Red Sox title was earned by the hard work of the entire team. Still; despite the celebration, I didn't see this as a victory but a form a closure. It was almost like a furneal feeling as I stayed up until 4 am in the morning watching the three major Boston stations showing coverage of the celebration both in the streets and in Busch Stadium. It was simply amazing as I heard (and saw) a few actors kissing during the celebration which will be part of a movie to be release in mid 2005 which involves a Red Sox fan. I also thought the Saint Louis Cardinals showed some class in allowing the Red Sox fans to celebrate with the team. The whole thing was absolutely surreal because the last time the Boston Red Sox won the World Series was in 1918 and many of the invention that we took for granted didn't even exist...including television. It was a moment for sports to be proud as the Red Sox (and its fans) would later go on to win SI's Sportsmen Of The Year Award. A bright spot in an otherwise terrible sports year with steroids, fights and indecent material hanging around.
So why do I think this is bull?! In order to understand why I cannot share some of those sentiments that Red Sox Nation is showing; you must understand how I became a Boston Red Sox fan. It all started back in 1986; just after the Boston Celtics had won the NBA Championship for a record sixteenth time with Larry Bird. It was riding a high point as I noticed the Boston Red Sox were in the World Series. I was in love with them as I watched guys such as Rodger Clemens, Jim Rice, Bill Buckner and all of the rest. While I didn't see Game Six of the World Series; I did remember seeing Bill Buckner's miscue that cost Boston the game againest the New York Mets. Back then I took it as a simple mistake that wouldn't have changed the series that much as all. Sure Boston lost the World Series then; but I didn't care and I forgave Bill Buckner for the miscue at the time. As a young fan; I didn't know about the Red Sox's story and I didn't really care because I loved the team. I wasn't bitter because I felt Boston could win Game 7. I watched the Boston Red Sox as a fan of baseball, a fan who loved baseball as a form of entertainment. However; that all changed in 1995 when I took my first bus trip to the city of Boston to see the Boston Red Sox take on the Toronto Blue Jays at Fenway Park. I believe Boston took two out of three in a great series. However; I went shopping there and made the grave error of buying a little red book (which I have lost for the last nine years so I don't know the title) which had a lot of information and fun stuff about the Boston Red Sox. Sadly; it also had the story on the curse of Babe Ruth. Everyone knows the story about how Babe Ruth was traded to the Yankees for a song and the Red Sox were cursed. The only way to get rid of the curse was to win the World Series. After I returned to Porters Lake; I saw Boston in a different light. When I talked about them; other kids (and some adults) called me a loser because I supported a team who cannot win a championship. Why?! They were cursed by an 86-year event! Even in popular culture; it was inescapable. While I never considered the Baloo newspaper spot in TaleSpin to be a rib on the Red Sox's woes; even if it was, it was light compared to Pete Rose's badmouthing my team during WrestleMania 14 in Boston no less. Some would say Pete Rose would be inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame before Boston ever won a World Series. In all fairness; Pete Rose was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame because he took a tombstone from Kane and sold it like a champ. He called Boston the "City of Losers"; which was slander because Boston won 16 NBA Championships, a numnber of Stanley Cups and more recently; two Super Bowls. I know that New England isn't in Boston; but the majority of its fans are in Boston and the stadium wouldn't fit in Boston anyway. So there you go. However; Red Sox Nation didn't care because they are nothing compared to winning the World Series. Which all things considered was in fact ture. I was feeling awful and it was a factor in my mental illness. I couldn't cope with people making fun of me and I needed a hospital visit in the summer of 2001. I still maintain that my obsession with religious programming of TV was the number one cause of the mental illness; but this didn't help matters at all. This is when Boston doesn't make the playoffs. When Boston made it to the playoffs and faced the New York Yankees (thanks to wildcard play.); the torture was far worse. I would often be tormented just watching long streches of playoff games (about 15 minutes at a time; usually with the rival team hitting.). It got to a point where I tried to make a promise that if the Red Sox make the playoffs; I would never watch them...Ever! Sadly; I broke that promise by Game Five of the 2004 ALCS and the torment was problematic for me. I couldn't sleep sometimes. Winning the ALCS did give me a respite; but the torment came back in the World Series. I then made a promise not to watch Game Four of the World Series with Boston leading three games to none because I was afraid that I would jinx the team. Thea was how bad my inner torment was. Once again; I broke my word as the torment was at its peak. Every Red Sox fan was praying for the best and expecting that their beloved Red Sox would choke again for another year. It didn't happen and nine years of suffering was gone. NINE YEARS THAT I WILL _NEVER_ GET BACK!!! I don't blame the Boston Red Sox team or its fans for my suffering and pain. I believe that they were duped. I believe that the media should be blamed for my suffering. If I knew that I could win a case againest them; I would sue. The reasoning actually was proven when a famous Boston sports columnist came out after the World Series victory and say that this _curse_ was a great thing and that he already misses it! That to me is admitting to only one thing: THE BABE RUTH CURSE WAS A MEDIA CREATION...AN 18 YEAR MEDIA CREATION!!
The fact is that before 1986; there was no talk about a curse on the Boston Red Sox. Ask yourself this question: If there was turely a curse that cannot be broken; then why did Boston even try to win one? Maybe because; if the only way that the Babe Ruth curse could turely live on was if the team went belly-up in fianances. The reality is that in every season from 1919-2003 was a failure due to bad management, the lack of team work and lack of strength from all that were involved. The only moment that even came close to a curse was in Game Six of the 1986 World Series when Bill Buckner mistimes the ball. After the series was over; a newspaper columnist from San Francisco was the one who stated that media creation, probably as joke. Apparently; the Boston media had found out and started playing with it. All I've seen over the run of the 2004 Boston Red Sox was ice cream salesmen creating a Curse Reversed flavour (I personally would have gone for Fenway Faithful myself.) and all the talk about a curse which was used basically to drive up sales and seen by the media as the only way to keep Red Sox fans watching their team. That to me is a huge insult to the Red Sox fans who saw no benefit from a team that could've, should've, but didn't quite win the big one. The reality is that this curse has only benefitted the food, alcohol and drug industries which their products were used to sweep the reality of losing for another year. Curt Schilling was correct in saying that there was no curse and the Red Sox team didn't believe that bullstuff either. When Curt was telling people to vote for George W. Bush after the World Series was over; he wasn't just rebelling againest a media creation; he was rebelling againest a liberial media that caused Red Sox Nation to suffer from a curse that NEVER existed! The Boston Red Sox team liberated us from the tyranny of a boorish press. We are again free to enjoy the Red Sox...We can live again!
To end my editorial; I want to say to the Boston Red Sox fans as a fan myself: What happened for way too way was an assault on our senses and our emotions. Since 1986; we have been watching our favorite team not as a bunch of fans having a fun time at the ballpark; but as a matter of life and death. We now have won a World Series Championship and now have a great chance to get past all of this disbelief and bullstuff to stop worrying about something that was created by a bunch of columnist who were out to create an excuse for Boston's past woes. Jim Rome stated that because the Red Sox have done the unthinkable; they are now just another team with a title; as if this World Series moment was a bad thing for the team. I say that we send him the perfect response for that comment: THAT'S THE WAY WE WANT THEM TO BE! I'm sick and tired of watching fans of this team suffer due to something that doesn't exist and it's time to show our support for the team. However; we should them the support as fans and enjoy the games as fans who love baseball. The chapter of Boston's 86 year dryspell is over. The next chapter is about to start; can we win more championships?! Theo Epstien is already starting to work on deals and the Red Sox will prepare for spring training once again. The fans will return; they will sell-out the stadiums again. However; they will be able to watch the game without shuttering this time around. Why?! Because we have a World Series title under our belt and we have a huge respite.
Let's enjoy baseball again. It's the only healthy thing to do...That's my opinion; I welcome yours. See you next time!