BOSTON - Hell has frozen over.
Elephants do fly.
So what do we do now?
Not long after a lunar eclipse passed over the city of Boston on Wednesday night, 86 years of angst ended 1,200 miles away when the Red Sox completed a four-game sweep of the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series for the first time since 1918. The long, gray winter of our discontent has ended in Boston, 1,032 months after it started. All it took was an unusual alignment of the planets and the greatest comeback in the history of team sports.
So what did ya think, it was going to be easy?
All it took was falling three games behind the hated New York Yankees in the American League Championship Series and then doing what no team in baseball history had ever done — win four straight to eliminate their long-time nemesis and oldest rival, and win the pennant.
All it took was sweeping the World Series against winningest team in baseball this season .
All it took was putting on the mound a pitcher the Sox had yanked from the starting rotation, Derek Lowe, to win the final game in each of the three playoff series.
All it took, in the end, was 25 guys who had labeled themselves "The Idiots,'' believing that they could win one game. The next game. Win until there were no games — and no curse — left. Who but an idiot could believe in such a thing once the Yankees led 3-0?
That ludicrous nickname was fitting because to continue to believe spring after spring for 86 years that this season would be different requires a faith beyond idiocy and bordering on lunacy. That is what Red Sox fans have had not only through this long drought but through so many of the oddest moments and saddest ways to lose a championship or a chance at one that anyone could have devised.
All it took was the unexpected, the unbelievable and the impossible to all happen in the same baseball season for the Red Sox to finally become World Series champions.
Generations of frustrated Red Sox fans have come and gone without seeing this moment. Boston sports radio icon Eddie Andelman, who goes back through more than 50 years of the pain, now knows he will have to order a new tombstone. After the 1986 debacle in which the Sox came within one strike of beating the New York Mets in the World Series only to lose on a wild pitch, a Bill Buckner error and a total collapse a game later, Andelman had a tombstone chiseled not long after that Series ended that read: "Eddie Andelman — They Never Won It In His Lifetime.''
He had seen his team a game from winning the World Series, five outs from winning the World Series, one out from winning the World Series, one strike from winning the World Series. But always he had seen them lose.
Always until Wednesday night when he watched them win it all not in his beloved Boston or in the stands at Busch Stadium in St. Louis but rather in a hotel room in Aruba, where he had gone to attend the wedding of his son, Michael.
"I thought the kid loved me,'' Andelman joked. "But we knew we had to do this. I finally decided it wasn't the Curse of the Bambino. It was the Curse of the Andelmans. We had to get out of town for them to win it all.''
It was not easy to be a baseball fan in New England unless you were a turncoat who fell in love with the Yankees. To root each year for the Red Sox was to court disaster. It was to be the next guy to marry J Lo or Brittany. It was to ask for trouble.
But there was a pain in it that hearty New Englanders began to embrace. It was part of the heritage of this notoriously difficult place to live, a place where the streets weren't wide enough and summer wasn't long enough. It was the place where spring never came and winter never left and the Sox never won.
You needed a strong constitution to live in New England and a stronger one to be a Red Sox fan. Until Oct. 27, 2004. Then it was suddenly all washed away.
"I can't explain how it happened or why it happened, I just know it did happen,'' said the longest suffering member of the Red Sox, veteran pitcher Tim Wakefield, who only a year ago ended Boston's season with another sad chapter when his knuckleball was driven into the night sky by Aaron Boone in the 11th inning of Game 7 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium. It sent the damn Yankees to the World Series again and the Red Sox back home to a town haunted by a history of near misses.
"It's what we all know it is,'' said the mother of boy general manager Theo Epstein, the 30-year-old architect of this odd collection of characters, after his team had finally reversed the curse. "It's unbelievable.''
The Curse, Bucky Dent, Johnny Pesky's double clutch on a throw home in the '46 Series against the Cardinals that allowed Enos Slaughter to score from first base on a single, Bob Gibson, Bill Buckner, Calvin Schiraldi, Denny Galehouse, Grady Little. All their sins were forgiven on this night, with the moon half black and a miracle swirling around in the fall air.
"We know we're idiots but we know we're world champions, too,'' said Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon, whose lead-off home run in Game 4 made clear to the Cardinals that this time things would be different. This time there would be no heartbreaks except for Cardinals fans. This time, after 86 years, they would seal the deal and win the final game.
The Red Sox had come from behind to beat the Yankees twice in extra innings and twice at Yankee Stadium, the scene of so much heartbreak for Boston fans over the years.
They had gone on to face a team that won 105 games, and their starting pitchers allowed them only three earned runs after Game 1. They beat up the Yankees and beat out the Cardinals, arguably the other two most storied franchises in baseball. They beat the best, which is how it should be after 86 years of beating nobody.
To win their first World Series since 1918, the Red Sox had to beat the best team in the American League and the best team in the National League and they did, winning their last eight games. They won with the kind of rush that seemed to suck the breath out of New England.
"Rip up those 1918 posters!'' Sox first baseman Kevin Millar hollered, a reference to the reminders held up at Yankee Stadium so many times around this time, reminders that nothing had been the same for baseball in Boston since Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees.
Nothing until now. The Boston Red Sox have won the World Series, leaving New England baseball fans with only one worry.
So now what?
Catcher Jason Varitek had a suggestion.
"Now our fans can actually sleep through the night,'' he said.
Good idea, but then what do we do? Call somebody in New York?
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