Friday, October 17, 2003

Before the Red Sox travel back to Boston this morning, they should check to see if Pedro is on the plane, or if Grady Little left him out on the mound in Yankee Stadium. If you don't believe in curses, then how do you explain the horror that has afflicted Cubs and Red Sox fans this week? "Clutch hitting by their opponents" is too banal a cause; it doesn't convey how tantalizingly possible the opposite outcome was, nor does it explain how eerie it was that things fell apart in the exact same situation for both teams. Yes, the Red Sox were five outs away, with a three run lead, their best pitcher on the mound. Just like the Cubs. And then fate awoke at the switch and threw it.

Now I really don't have the stomach to watch any of the World Series, even though the scrappy Marlins yapping at the heels of the creaky oft-champion Yankees would be, in any other year, something to see.

The Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy and Bob Ryan sum up the mood in Beantown. Believe me, guys, we Chicagoans can empathize:

And so a new generation of New Englanders has learned the risk of rooting for the Red Sox. They will tease you for months. They will tell you they are different from their forebears. They will claim that what happened before has nothing to do with them. They will make you believe this really is the year. But in the end, they will fall and sometimes they will do it in excruciating fashion. The weight of the Boston uniform is always too heavy. ... In perhaps the most painful game in franchise history -- no small statement given the Sox' penchant for macabre moments -- the Sox last night lost the American League pennant to their century-old nemisis, the New York Yankees.

The reward for all that fidelity will surely come in another life. There is no indication it will ever materialize in this one. With five outs to go, it was there. It was tangible. The Red Sox were going to beat the Yankees. They were going to the World Series, and, of course, they were going to win it. ... But the story never, ever changes.

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