Every Spring Training, Red Sox fans fervently believe that the upcoming season will be the year. And in 2004, after an 86 year drought, it finally was.
Words cannot convey how incredibly inspiring this season was. Despite seemingly sleepwalking through most of the season, the team clinched the AL Wild Card and had one of the most memorable baseball postseasons ever.
Talk to any diehard Red Sox fan, and it still seems unbelievable. After falling 0-3 to the Yankees in the ALCS, the despair and doom surrounding the franchise was palpable. Especially since the third loss was a 19-8 debacle. At that point, all I was hoping for was not being swept by the Evil Empire.
And they weren’t. They won a game. And another, and another, and well, the rest is, quite literally, history.
Their World Series opponent had the most wins in the National League. After such an emotionally and physically trying series against the Yankees, you’d think there might be a slight letting up of intensity, a little easing of ferocity. Not this team; not this year. Boston rolled over St. Louis. Swept them. The team with the most wins.
For a legion of fans across the globe, four score and six years of waiting were over.
Now the hot stove season begins. There are pivotal decisions to be made regarding key free agents such as Pedro Martinez, Jason Varitek, Derek Lowe, and Orlando Cabrera. The Red Sox front office could conceivably not try and maintain the second highest salary in the big leagues and start replenishing the farm system with fresh prospects. Or they could continue to let the team’s salary total rise, paying aging talent in hopes of another run next season.
I think Theo Epstein will find a middle ground between these two extremes. It’s difficult not to have faith in a baseball operations crew that pulled one of the biggest trades of a franchise player, and thereby, arguably saved the season.
Boston Red Sox: World Series Champions. Sinking in, finally.