For 86 years (it was 86 wasn't it?) the Boston Red Sox went without a championship. There was talk of curses, jinxes, hexes, and any other supernatural phenomenon continually derailing this team and keeping them from returning to the top of the Major League Baseball's heap.
In 2004, the Sox finally got their date with 'Destiny'. After getting blown out in game three of the '04 ALCS, the date started with a tasty, yet surprising appetizer: Winning four-straight to overcome a 3-0 deficit against the New York Yankees, buoyed by a plethora of clutch performances from various Sox, headlined by Big Papi David Ortiz.
The Red Sox peppered their own steak by dismissing the St Louis Cardinals rather easily in a 4-0 sweep, and the consensus was that the Sox had got their win and now they'd tread water for a few years.
Could they compete and defend the championship once again? Sure they could—in fact that's what some were looking forward to fifteen minutes after that final pitch—but there was no one who was overlooking the history that just happened.
Once 2005 rolled around though, the Red Sox fell victim to another strange sort of history and their relationship with 'Destiny' ran hot and cold. After losing some key contributors to Free Agency, the Sox plugged their way to a matchup with the Yankees for division supremacy on the last weekend of the season, but although they won two of the three games the Sox lost out on the tiebreaker, settling for the Wild Card.
To some onlookers, it looked like 'Destiny' was just dating a different color of Sox that season. She helped the White Sox to a three game sweep over the Red Sox, on their way to their first World Championship since 1917.
Then in 2006 it seemed that the Sox were even farther away from the ultimate goal of winning another World Championship as they started the season by losing Johnny Damon to the rival Yankees (as well as Kevin Millar and Bill Mueller), while trying to work Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett into the Red Sox environment.
Injuries began to mount, hindering the key cogs and suddenly the Red Sox weren't only trailing the hated Yankees in the end, but they were also looking up the skirt of the Toronto Blue Jays as the Sox finished third in the AL East.
While the relationship with 'Destiny' was looking more cold than it was hot, the Sox didn't sit tight in third. The Red Sox spent $103-million on Japanese import Daisuke Matsuzaka, winning a heavily-contested bidding war and they also spent big money on career under-achiever J.D. Drew ($70-million), and also brought in Julio Lugo.
For a majority of the year the Red Sox held on to first place in the AL East. Despite some parts not completely clicking in the Sox lineup (Pedroia early on, Drew and Lugo also had some troubles), Big Papi and Manny were their regular selves and they also had a little bit of support from some of the other slots on the roster.
The Sox continued to hold the AL East throughout the season and more and more they looked like the team to beat. Pedroia started to hit, Jacoby Ellsbury and Clay Buchholz looked spectacular as call-ups, and the bullpen was answered by jig-meister Jonathan Papelbon.
Then came the playoffs. While everyone talked about the Colorado Rockies and their unbelievable streak of winning 11 in a row, claiming the 'w' in 14 of their last 15 games, and a 20-8 September (as well as a heart-breaking win over the San Diego Padres in an NL Wild Card playoff), the Red Sox continued their dominance through a first round series with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, sweeping the Halos.
All of the sudden it looked like the Sox might be sashaying through the door-way to the ballroom with 'Destiny' on their arm after a few years of a hot and cold relationship.
But all that slowed to a halt as the Cleveland Indians took a 3-1 lead over the Red Sox in hopes of show-casing what could've been one of the most entertaining World Series of recent memory against the upstart Rockies.
Not so fast.
'Destiny' was up to her old tricks once again, and the Sox won game five on the strength of Josh Beckett. Then the player who many thought was a bust, right fielder J.D. Drew, finally came through.
Remember the Grand Slam? Remember how that was "the hit" that had you convinced that the Red Sox, the only team who could possibly come back from a 3-1 series deficit, were going to come back?
Well they did, and the series that was once out of hand was tied at three heading back to Fenway Park. After a while though it became out of hand once again: a 3-0 Red Sox lead in game seven shrunk to 3-2 heading into the 7th, but by the end of the 8th it was out of hand, finishing up with an 11-2 final.
Then the thought was "Oh the Sox can't handle momentum", "Rocktober is just too powerful", "Destiny is dancing on the other side this year".
Newsflash: She wasn't. 'Destiny' was fully on-board with the Sox dismantling of the Rockies, and the Sox danced their way to another World Series sweep and two championships in four years.
Then this season, even though the Tampa Bay Rays took over as the focal point in the AL East, the Red Sox never seemed to be out of the picture.
David Ortiz missed 46 games with a wrist that never fully healed over the course of the season but that didn't throw the Sox off. Manny Ramirez took 'Manny being Manny' (and I guess Scott Boras being Scott Boras) to a new level but the Sox persevered. The bullpen was spotty and the rest of the roster was banged up, but the Sox just kept rolling.
Just like last season, they met the Angels in the first round—and dispatched of them easily.
And just like last season, they met an upstart team and fell behind. In place of the Cleveland Indians though, were the Rays.
Just like last season, the Sox fell behind 3-1.
And just like all those years before, the Sox had a hit that let people know they weren't through.
You could take your pick actually, as there were probably a few moments. Some were convinced the Red Sox could make a comeback after Big Papi came out of nowhere to hit that home run in game five, while some started to believe after J.D. Drew's homer, and some after Drew's game-winning single. I guess clutch is worth $70 million.
Just like last season, the Sox yet again forced a Game Seven.
But this year, it wasn't to be.
Instead of celebrating with one last World Series ring or a champagne shower, the Red Sox separated with 'Destiny' last night with just a simple hand-shake and a 'thank-you'.
One can argue that the Red Sox aren't done—and by no means are they—and they'll be back next year.
There'll be just one difference though: the magic won't be the same. It's not that first title in 86 years and it's not about the comeback anymore. The Red Sox have had their moment, and they got beaten by 'Destiny's' newest pet project.
Despite all that, the split, as much as no one would like to admit it, is amicable.
So the Rays were the team—one of the most unlikely teams—to throw a wrench into Boston's plans of dominance and their blue prints to dance with 'Destiny' one last time.
Boston's had their moment and they know they'll be back. They've displayed their magic and toyed with the hearts of fans. Now it's someone else's turn to bask in the joy.
'Destiny's' back on the market boys, she's a free woman and first in line are the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays.
Don't worry about the Red Sox though...they're going to be just fine.