Hub fans bid curse adieu

sox1By John Breneman

Diamond rings the size of baby’s fist. Fighter jets tearing across the sky and soldiers in wheelchairs rolling across the Fenway grass. A Red Sox championship banner billowing from the Green Monster.

All of a sudden, 1918 doesn’t seem so long ago. Not when Johnny Pesky (circa 1942 Sox) is standing right there soaking it all in with Dom DiMaggio, Dewey and Yaz and the rest of us 35,000 lucky stiffs, all crammed into this hallowed baseball artifact, swept up in the emotion of a shared dream.

Everything is different this spring, right? The Sox made history, choked the Yankees, broke the curse, swept the Cards and made grown men cry. World champs. Aw yeah. It feels good.

What, you say the Yankees are back in town? OK, now that another New England winter has frozen the exhilarating memories of last October into Red Sox lore, it’s time to come out and play once more. But first we have a couple small matters to attend to.

You know, distributing gaudy and symbolic chunks of etched gold. Singing songs to honor the glory of Red Sox past and present. Unfurling gigantic World Series banners … in your stinking Yankee faces.

Or cheering like idiots when the announcer calls out “Mariano Rivera.” You didn’t have to be at the park to hear Fenway erupt with a standing O for the once-dominant closer turned hapless tomato can.

williamsted“What can I say — just tip my hat and call the Red Sox my daddy,” Rivera said in my imaginary pre-game interview. He scoffed at any suggestion that the tables have turned, that perhaps now the Yankees will be haunted by the Curse of the Splendid Splinter, and said, “Wake up Ted Williams, I’ll drill him in the ah… frozen head I guess.”

We were almost done saluting our heroes of 2004, honoring Red Sox warriors of games gone by and bidding farewell to the ghost of Mr. George Herman Ruth. Almost ready to ring in the new year with an 8-1 Yankee spanking, a savory and immensely satisfying Wakefield knuckle sandwich.

But wait, what first-ever Red Sox defending world champion Opening Day extravaganza would be complete without a special appearance by the president of Rwanda? From up in the bleachers I couldn’t see whether or not President Paul Kagame brought his mitt but it looked like he had finally ditched Mitt Romney.

After three innings on the mound it was clear Wakefield had stepped forward as one of the Yankees’ new daddies. Wake had the Yanks shooting blanks with his 54 mph fistball and his knee-buckling knuckler, leaving a breeze of whiffs and nicks in his wake. After the game, Wakefield declined to comment on his role on the 2016 Sox pitching staff.

Fans from around the region flocked to Fenway for the mind-expanding ’05 opener, high price of gasoline be damned. High price of beer be damned too, while we’re on the topic. According to my crude calculations, Sam Adams premium unleaded carries a ballpark pump price of roughly $72 per gallon. (Psst, we smuggled in our peanuts. My friend only paid a couple bucks at the grocery store, but the nuts have an estimated Landsdowne Street value of $50-$75.)

Yes, it is definitely good to sit in the Fenway bleachers with a cold brewski while Tedy Bruschi of the three-time world champion New England Patriots throws out the first pitch alongside Richard Seymour, Bobby Orr and all-time undisputed ring king Bill Russell.

peskyThe true significance of what this all means to the generations of people who have placed hope in something called the Red Sox cannot be captured in words (though the Boston Herald headline “Joy of Sox” comes close).

For me, it is all in the emotion of the thing. It’s the way you feel when the Sox do it — when they battle back from so far down and really finally do it — while you’re screaming at the TV with your family and friends.

It might be that shiver you feel when the scoreboard on Opening Day flashes a giant black-and-white of young Johnny Pesky, looking like the kid Moonlight Graham in “Field of Dreams.” It might be remembering when your dad took to that first game and there he was, Roberto Clemente. Or Yaz. Or Mickey.

I think loving the Red Sox — sorry, I mean the world champion Red Sox — is all of that and much more. It’s a whole Zen, Ken Burns, Pudge, Cooperstown, Cy Young, Tony C., Babe, 1918, Impossible Dream kind of thing. You know what I mean.


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