The Red Sox did it. They mounted the biggest comeback in Major League Baseball playoff history (some say the biggest comeback in sports ever, but I think that's laying it on a bit thick), defeated their arch-rivals, the New York Yankees, and now they're headed to the World Series for the first time since 1986.
Wow. Just... wow.
A lot will be said about this over the next few days (and probably beyond), all throughout the media, the internet, in every bar and around every office watercooler. I really don't think I can add anything too profound to the discourse because I'm in such awe at the moment, but there are a few things I do wanna say.
1. Most teams tend to place the burden of their success (or lack thereof) on the backs of a few key players. The Red Sox, on the other hand, lived and died as a team. More than that, really. They're a family (especially after they got rid of Nomar). In professional sports these days, that's extremely rare. The only other team I can really think of with a similar bond is the New England Patriots, especially during their first championship season. I don't think it's a coincidence that both teams are from the same region.
2. I'm even more impressed by the respect and admiration the Sox hold for their fans. What makes the Red Sox Nation different from other team fan bases is that we really do think of ourselves as a part of the team. And what makes the Red Sox different from other pro sports teams is that they seem to agree.
3. Johnny Damon wasn't in a slump during this series. As my wife Erin said, "he was just waiting for his pitch." Twice.
4. David Ortiz. Sweet Jebus, but that guy can hit.
5. To Mark Bellhorn: I'm not going to go out on a limb yet and say that all is forgiven, but I will give you mad props for finally deciding to show up. Welcome aboard. It's about damn time.
6. Fox showed two great images of Yankeeland during the Sox victory celebration. One was of Billy Crystal on the verge of tears. But the other one, the one that'll stay with me was of A-Rod standing in the dugout, looking pissed off and more than a little regretful. I laughed, because I am a bad person.
And now, onto the World Series, against whomever takes the NLCS tomorrow night (in itself, a great series; too bad Fox doesn't seem to think so). I want Boston to win, obviously, and put an end to all of this ridiculous curse crap once and for all. But win or lose, they had an absolutely amazing season. And they rose from three pretty humiliating losses to beat the Yankees. For the penant. At Yankee Stadium, no less.
In the end, that probably means more to me than any silly championship.