Curse is becoming ancient history
Red Sox: Young fans see a team that's won more World Series than the Yankees in the last 10 years
Connor Rosenlund is 23 and a Boston Red Sox fan.
He first came to the calling in the late '90s because, as he says, he was a baseball guy and he needed a team. He was also fascinated with the knuckleball and, at that time, the Red Sox featured Tim Wakefield in their starting rotation. Put the two together and it seemed the Sox were a natural fit.
And he's been rewarded for his loyalty. There was the epic 2004 comeback against the Yankees and the World Series sweep over the St. Louis Cardinals. There was the 2007 Series win over the Colorado Rockies. There's the magic carpet ride in 2013 with the most unlikely of Sox teams, a ride that's taken them to the Fall Classic, which starts on Wednesday against the Cards.
Yes, it's been a good decade to be a Red Sox fan.
Rosenlund is asked if he's ever heard of Bucky Dent.
"No," he says. OK, how about Harry Frazee, the man who sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees. Or Enos Slaughter, the Cardinals outfielder who scored the winning run in Game 7 of the 1946 World Series from first base on a single? Or Ed Armbrister? Or Bill Lee and the Leephus? Or Lou Piniella in right field? Or Calvin Schiraldi? Or Mookie Wilson? Or Bill Buckner? "I know about him," says Rosenlund. "They show that replay enough."
As for the rest of the Red Sox history, the young man is blissfully unaware and, perhaps, that's how it should be. His generation is unburdened by suffering. His generation knows a different Red Sox story. Over the last 10 years, the Red Sox have actually won more World Series than the Yankees.
It's almost unsettling for longtime Red Sox followers but, for Rosenlund and his peers, the Yankees no longer represent pure evil, and Bucky F-bombing Dent, the light-hitting shortstop who hit a three-run homer in the 1978 playoff game at Fenway, isn't regarded as the devil's spawn.
"Based on the stories you're telling me, I don't think I have (earned full membership in the Red Sox nation)," said Rosenlund. "It's something I'll look into."
Might as well. It's safe now. The Red Sox, of course, meet the Cards for that coveted thingy emblematic of baseball supremacy and while their appearance in the World Series is no longer a novelty, there is still something unique about this Red Sox team. Last year, in the throes of a disastrous 69-93 campaign, they packaged Adrian Gonzales, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and the immortal Nick Punto, to the Dodgers, shedding $262 million in salary as well as the stench of a monumental failure.
This year, they rebuilt around pitching, a balanced lineup, a deep bench and an efficient running game. If you're familiar with Red Sox history, you're aware those characteristics aren't exactly synonymous with the Scarlet Hose but here they are, four wins away from their third World Series title in 10 years.
"When they got rid of all that money, I said, 'That's a big mistake there,'" says Rosenlund.
And that's what most observers thought. Seasoned Red Sox followers, however, are aware when this team is supposed to win, it doesn't and when it's not supposed to win, it does.
The 2013 Red Sox, in fact, are reminiscent of the 1967 miracle team that went from ninth place to the American League pennant only to lose to the Cardinals in seven games.
"I didn't know that," says Rosenlund.
There's more kid. The 1975 team came from out of nowhere to win the AL pennant, only to fall in seven to the Reds. As for 1986, sorry, still can't talk about it. But the storied 2004 team was down 3-0 to the Yankees when they came back to break the Curse of the Bambino.
You can't see me but I'm smiling as I type that last sentence.
Rosenlund also remembers that '04 team. When they were down 3-0, he remembers Sox first baseman Kevin Millar saying: "Don't let us win tonight." He remembers Curt Schilling and the bloody sock. He remembers Johnny Damon's grand slam in Game 7. I'm still smiling. Still, it hasn't all been all champagne and cigars for Rosenlund. He remembers the 2003 ALCS when Grady F-bombing Little, a distant relative of Bucky F-bombing Dent, left Pedro Martinez in too long and the Sox coughed up a 5-2 lead in the eighth inning of Game 7. Wakefield then served up the game-winning homer to Aaron Boone in the bottom of the 12th.
"You can imagine how I felt when Wakefield gave up that home run," Rosenlund says.
I've got a pretty good idea. So do a few others. But the pain goes away. The Red Sox endure.
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