Wednesday, October 27, 2004: Is this the day? Is this the day we have all been waiting for? Is this the night when the Boston Red Sox win the World Series? I get chills thinking about it. We’ve been waiting for this moment for all our lives.


It should by now be obvious, but I loathe the whole idea of the curse, the whole defeatist-voodoo-wikken-eye-of-newt mentality of it all. But I have come to realize something. The very idea of the curse was never about the Red Sox. It was about us. It was about being a Red Sox fan and wanting so much for this team to win, and yearning so much to feel the joy that other teams felt in October, that lesser teams and lesser fans got to experience, that when we continued to fail we needed an explanation. It’s like Billy talking to Jules after she finally loses it in St. Elmo’s Fire. He explains to her what that strange and mythical eponymous fire was – it wasn’t real, it was an illusion that sailors made up, something to get them by on their journeys. (Oh, this is not the last 80s pop culture reference in today’s entry, nosirree.) That is what the curse is. It was something that allowed some fans to grasp on to the failures of something they so wanted to succeed. Thus the Red Sox did not need the mythical curse, certain fans did. Well, for those who believed in curses. It really was broken on Wednesday night when the Sox blasted open the doors and won. In four straight games the Sox came in and believed in themselves and in so doing brought the rest of us along with them. They did not need St. Elmo’s Fire. They did not need curses.

So now listen to Red Sox fans. Where we have always been preternaturally cautious, most of us are having a hard time containing ourselves. We talk about “when” and then quickly correct ourselves and say “if.” But our hearts are not in it. We no longer think that horrible things are going to happen. We no longer believe in mystical forces that will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. We no longer are burdened by a past that makes us believe that we are destined to relive past failures. And even those of us who never believed in curses have come to realize how fatalistic we have been, how much the past has affected the way we live out the present.

But that all ended last week. In taking those last four games from the Yankees, in staging the most epic and significant comeback in sports history, in watching the other guys fail, in watching our guys get it right, in watching kismet bounce a few our way, the Red Sox, and all of us in Red Sox Nation, shed a burden almost entirely of our own making. That it never existed does not mean that in a sense the curse was not real. But now it is gone. It is vanquished. I do not know how it is going to happen. I do not know what path it will take. I do not know how much anguish we’ll have to confront.

But the Red Sox are going to win the World Series.

Last night the Sox won 4-1, and truth be told, I am not certain I’ve ever been more spot-on in predictions as I was in yesterday’s diary, right down to the circumstances of Foulke’s appearance and Pedro’s outing. Pedro guaranteed his place in Valhalla with an epic seven run, three hit appearance in which he gave up no runs. Manny blasted a home run and in the same inning made a throw to the plate to nail the potential game tying run that erased whatever mistakes he made the other night. We got a 4-0 lead and save for a solo Larry Walker shot in the 8th off of Timlin, never looked back. Foulke nailed the door shut. Somehow we survived the almighty national League Stadium and that ferocious style of play. Somehow we were able to field the ball cleanly (Ortiz not only fielded his position but made one huge play when that savvy National League baserunning guile failed the Cardinals when Suppan neglected to go home from third on a ground ball to right and instead got nailed when Ortiz made a perfect throw back to third). Somehow we overcame the treacherousness of substituting guys in a league without the designated hitter. We are up three games to none, and standing between us and the World Series title is today’s Cardinals’ starter, Jason Marquis.

I remember back in high school when I played football we used to have rituals before our games. Newport High School played scrappy, competitive football that mobilized an entire community. Given the level of our competition we were pretty good, but in the larger view, we were just a bunch of undersized kids playing a game. But back then, back in high school where everything is so raw and it all means everything, those Saturday afternoons seemed like the most important thing in the world. Before every game, about 15 minutes or so before we all went out to the field, right before coach came in to give his last fiery speech, the locker room would get really quiet. We had a mix tape that we listened to, with lots of Van Halen and AC/DC and the like. The last song on the mix was Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.” I want to make it perfectly clear – Phil Collins is an insipid little gasbag. But with that one song, which I believe first played on Miami Vice, he hit magic.

As with all rituals, most people from without, especially 16 years later, would look back and cringe. And maybe this is all incredibly sophomoric. But at that moment, when Phil Collins sang “I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life, hold on, hold on, hold on” and our testosterone surged and our fists clenched and our hearts raced and our bellies churned, life was never more vivid, more alive, more urgent. With the slow build of the guitars and the heart-thump backbeat and the crescendos and desperate lyrics, we were young men prepared to take the burdens of the world, or at least our little New Hampshire town, on our shoulder pads. Anything was possible. There was no cynicism. There was no irony. There was just the bittersweet vine of life and we grabbed on for all that we had.

I’ve been thinking about that song, that time, a lot lately. The Red Sox were good then, too, just not quite good enough. It was soon after 1986, the wounds of Bill Buckner and Mookie Wilson and Ray Knight and Bob Stanley still festered. I’m a lot older now. And so much in my life has changed. But I remember that kid in the locker room. I’ve been waiting for this moment for all my life. The Red Sox are going to win the World Series. Hold on, hold on, hold on . . .

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