Homer wrote of heroes who performed feats that stretched the limits of credulity, and that’s what this team is made of from top to bottom. They have followed the ALCS miracle of 2004 with one almost as unlikely in 2007.
The 2004 squad was pure magic, the team that buried the Curse of the Bambino, introduced the Yankees to a level of misery they didn’t think possible for any team this side of the North side of Chicago to endure, and ended 86 years of losses.
This team has the same magic — what else can you call it when it comes back from a 3-1 deficit and utterly humbles Cleveland, the team that went through the Yankees like a cutting torch through one-ply toilet paper? But it’s also done something just as important to the history of the franchise as the 2004 team did.
Those Red Sox broke the curse. This edition of the team validated the money and planning that Theo Epstein poured into building something that would be more than a one-shot wonder. Not since those wonderful days of the 1910s have the Red Sox been a perennial power. Never since then have they been to two World Series in the same decade.
They’re going to their second in four seasons now. Before Epstein arrived, they had been to two in 30 seasons. They’re not a dynasty yet, but they’re threatening to become one.
Beyond even that, they’re easy to like, making no effort to present a picture of corporate conformity. They’re bearded in creative ways — Kevin Youkilis looks as if he has a squirrel hitchhiking on his chin — and dreadlocked and scruffy and make no effort to present an image as anything other than what they are — ballplayers.
There’s Big Papi, the slugger who is beloved by all. The lead-off hitter is the skinny kid, Dustin Pedroia, who just clobbered Cleveland Sunday night, his big home run helping to turn a 3-2 nail-biter into an 11-2 romp to the World Series. Their ace of Josh Beckett, as fierce a big-game pitcher as you’ll find. Mike Lowell is a gritty RBI machine at third base. Jason Varitek is everything a catcher should be. Jonathan Papelbon right now is arguably the best closer in the game.
Like every other team in the game, the depth of the starting pitching is less than ideal, but they had enough to run roughshod over the Angels and then perform a Houdini act in climbing out the hole they fell into in losing three of the first four to Cleveland.
They are instead a team of heroes, and that’s so much more fun to watch. They face adversity, spit in its eye, and empty their bladders on logic and the experts — not to mention the odds. They may not be as brilliant in an absolute sense as the all-time super teams, but they’re a lot more memorable.
Heroes always are more memorable, which is why Homer wrote about them and we continue to read the stories more than 2,500 years later. Homer’s heroes were never perfect, but against extraordinary odds, they rose to extraordinary heights.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
After they were down 3-1, nobody expected them to win. Most teams give up at that point, but not these guys. They hadn’t given up in 2004, and they weren’t going to do it now. That’s not how heroes behave.
Who knows if they’ll beat the Rockies, who have been pretty heroic themselves? Three years ago, it would have mattered, because to lose then was to extend the curse. But that’s dead now, slain by the bats and arms of brave men. What they do from here on in doesn’t create the legend, it adds to it.
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