I have a confession to make: whenever I have a really bad day, I rewatch the 2004 World Series movie. Somehow, crying happy tears totally cheers me up. With last week’s awful ALDS showing by the Sox, I’ve watched the DVD three times. And aside from my obvious heartbreak at seeing Papi hitting absolute bombs in his uniform, the thing that really struck me was how much more that ALCS mattered than the World Series.
Obviously, we needed to win the World Series to break the curse, but as the Sox say in the movie, after they finally started beating the Yankees, they felt it was all ‘theirs to take.’ By the numbers, it took seven games to beat the Yankees, and then we swept the Cardinals in four games. And though it’s true that one of our many Curse of the Bambino losses was to the Cardinals in the 1946 World Series, the 2004 ALCS was a much harder-fought, more interesting battle against our eternal rivals, the Yankees.
No team contributed more to our 86 years of heartache than the Yankees. Starting with Sox owner and candidate for Worst-Person-Alive Harry Frazee selling Babe Ruth and the ownership of Fenway Park down the river, the Yankees obnoxiously took every opportunity to destroy generations of Red Sox hopes and dreams. Bucky Dent, Aaron Boone, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, to name just a few of the men who used to haunt our dreams.
Down three games in the 2004 ALCS, the Red Sox made history when they came back to win four straight to advance to the World Series. A comeback like that had never been done before in MLB history, and toppling the Yankees made it infinitely sweeter. David Ortiz’s walk-off wins, Damon’s grand slam, Speedy Roberts stealing second base, the inimitable Mariano’s blown save, and Pedro finally overcoming the Yankees; the series instantly became legendary.
Am I living in the past? A little bit. But it’s Red Sox off-season, so this is how I cope. The 2004 ALCS was the gateway to the Red Sox breaking the curse and going on to win three World Series championships in ten years. And with the Yankees in the ALCS tonight again, I’m going to hold on to 2004 and smile, remembering how we wiped the smirks off their smug faces.