Koji & Co.
Rejubilation. It's not a word, but it seems to fit for the 2013 AL Pennant-winning Boston Red Sox.
Sox outfielder Shane Victorino was clearly a bit jacked up on adrenaline during his postgame interview with Ken Rosenthal. But considering his ALCS-clinching 7th inning grand slam, the many grammar sticklers in New England probably won't be giving him too hard a time.
Victorino, David Ortiz, Koji Uehara and the Bearded Bostonians helped put a resounding end to the "mini-curse" that has plagued Red Sox Nation the past two seasons and to some, it feels like old times:
The great Red Sox mutiny of 2011 was soul-crushing, but as painful as that collapse was (losing 18 of their last 24 games), that team went 90-72 and was in playoff contention until the final game of the season.
If Chicken & Beergate was a lowly moment for the fabled franchise, 2012 was nearly insufferable. Let us not forget the permanent scowl of Carl Crawford, the robotic gaze of Adrian Gonzalez and the squawking trainwreck that was Bobby Valentine. A 69-93 record was a tough tablet to swallow and even denizens of the city's North End were happy to bid the Paisan arrivederci.
While the 2012 clubhouse was toxic enough to have Hazmat signs installed in front of the dugout, in October of 2013, things are loosey-goosey again around Yawkey Way, reminiscent of the "bunch of idiots" of 2004. This time around, it's ridiculous beards, Big Papi bear hugs and a lights-out closer who have brought back some joy to a community still a bit shell-shocked by the events of this past Patriots Day.
What a difference a regime change makes.
As inauspicious as Ben Cherington's first year as general manager proved to be, his second amounts to a champagne campaign. Furthermore, John Farrell's Red Sox managerial debut has been nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Over the next couple of weeks, you're bound to hear the phrase "Boston Strong" ad nauseam. No need to downplay the healing power of sports, but let's not gloss over the cynicism our nation's pastime continues to bring to our waking moments.
Baseball is more than the pomp and bombast Joe Buck and Tim McCarver dish out. No matter how Fox tries to romanticize this once-pure child's game, it is big business and carries with it all the ugliness of the modern age.
That's the caveat to this feel-good story, but rather than dwell in Downerville, let's attempt to chart a path along the road to redemption.
Despite winning the World Series in 2004 and 2007, Red Sox fans know a thing or two about superstition and that a series ain't over 'til it's over. Look no further than longtime Boston Globe pundit Bob Ryan:
Sun night is why you must always live in the sports moment. Verlander is looming and "momentum" is a myth. A first inning run would be nice.— Bob Ryan (@GlobeBobRyan) October 14, 2013
If Buchholz and company couldn't get it done in Game 6, they would have been staring down the barrel of one Justin Verlander—yes, the Tigers ace had a sub-standard year, but the team would have liked their chances with him on the hill in Game 7.
Sox fans should empathize with the Detroit faithful, if any city needs a winner as badly as Boston this year, it's Motown. Nobody has suffered more under the weight of the Great Recession (culminating in the city declaring bankruptcy over the summer).
Yeah, the two teams are rivals from the old AL East era, but only the most hard-hearted of New Englanders would fail to see the kindred spirits in their battered-but-unbowed counterparts:
NY Times: Detroit is bankrupt, but its sports teams prosper: http://t.co/sLN4gRM4va— Edward McClelland (@TedMcClelland) October 14, 2013
It would have been far more satisfying to beat the Evil Empire again, but so be it, turn the page.
At the other end of the World Series tunnel stands a familiar foe, the bleepin' St. Louis Cardinals. Sure the Sox exorcised the Bambino once and for all against the Cards in 2004, but old-time Red Sox heads still get a bit fumed at the thought of 1946 and 1967.
That and the Cards have a familiar formidable momentum surrounding them this October—a mojo that helped them claim World Series crowns in 2006 and 2011.
The path to redemption is normally a slow, uneventful climb up a metaphysical Mount Everest, but the 2013 Boston Red Sox have eschewed convention all season long.
Sadly, in the sports world, for every triumphant moment, there must be a vanquished opponent.
Somewhere in Dearborn or Hamtramck, an elderly couple—both born in 1945, married in 1968 and watched their first born jump for joy in the 1984 Bless You Boys season—had to fight back tears as the Tigers went down 1-2-3 in the 9th inning of Game 6.
Meanwhile, a laid-off dock worker in Winterport, Maine (who was living high on the hog in 2007), finds a reason to pound the pavement again. Seeing Big Papi and Victorino hit game-changing grand slams has given him hope.
While many have suffered heavily for even a moment of jubilation, there is a strange unseen hand that metes out pleasure and pain, in the sports world and beyond.
Sox fans are playing with house money now, perhaps some rerejubilation will be on the Cards in late October 2013.