October 29, 2013
Epic Celebration At Fenway Hopefully At Hand
BY: Bob George/BosSports.net
We thought we were rid of this 1918 jazz. Not quite yet.
Despite all these recent titles by Boston area teams, only one of them was won at home. The Celtics nailed down the 2008 NBA Championship with an annihilation of the Lakers at the TD Garden. Otherwise, the Bruins won their Stanley Cup in 2011 out in Vancouver, and all three Patriot Super Bowls were won in southern cities (New Orleans, Houston, Jacksonville).
The Red Sox won their last two World Series on the road in four game sweeps. They broke the curse at the recently razed Busch Stadium II, then won again three years later at Coors Field in Denver. The Red Sox did actually win a World Series at home, on several occasions. They nailed down the first ever World Series in 1903 at the old Huntington Avenue Grounds. They won at Braves Field in 1916 over the Brooklyn Robins (now the Dodgers). And they won the clinching games of the 1912 and 1918 World Series at Fenway.
So, it's been 95 years since the Red Sox celebrated a World Series win on the Fenway lawn. That long skein can end either Wednesday or Thursday of this week. If the Red Sox can win either Game 6 or 7 at home against the St. Louis Cardinals, the Sox will set off a celebration the likes of which perhaps will have never been seen around these parts. The only other massive hometown celebration that perhaps can come close is the 1970 Stanley Cup Final when Bobby Orr scored his iconic overtime goal against another St. Louis team. The Celtics have won several at home, but none of them compare to Orr's famous goal.
A Red Sox World Series win at Fenway would top them all, plain and simple.
The Red Sox went into new Busch Stadium and took two out of three games to put themselves in this position to win the championship at Fenway. The Red Sox shook off the horrific Game 3 loss to win two in a row and go home up three games to two. The Sox have not come home up three games to two since 1912; in 1918 the first three games were in Chicago and the next three in Fenway.
Since 1918, the Red Sox have played in four World Series that went the limit, and lost them all. In 1946, the Red Sox went to St. Louis up 3-2 but lost both games. In 1967 and 1975, they came home down 3-2, won Game 6 and lost Game 7. In 1986, they went to Shea Stadium up 3-2, but lost both of the last two games quite famously.
The Red Sox are thus in a position they haven't been in in 101 years. Steve Belichick, Bill's late father, was quoted once as saying "I went to my first NFL game in 1924. That's a long time ago." This is longer. To put it in perspective, the last time the Sox came home up 3-2, William Howard Taft was president, World War I hadn't happened yet, the losing pitcher in the clinching game for the Giants was Christy Mathewson, and to follow the game you had to go to a downtown public location and watch the game on a big scoreboard, run by guys who were getting play by play by telegraph.
There are perhaps a handful of people who can say they were alive when all of this last happened at Fenway. They likely have no memory of it (the last survivor of the Titanic, which sunk right around when Fenway first opened, who died in 2009, was only nine weeks old when the British vessel went down in the Atlantic), but they can at least brag about it. They would have to be of hardy stock (and deep pockets) to be able to witness a victory coronation for the Red Sox at Fenway and be able to carry the memory of it with them to their grave.
That is why, if the Red Sox can overcome the Redbirds one more time, all hell will break loose at Fenway, all over downtown Boston, and all over New England.
It won't be like 2004. That was in and of itself a horse of a different color. That was perhaps the most cathartic moment in New England sports history. Everyone claiming allegiance to the Red Sox honored their lost loved ones who did not live to see it, and blessed the day they did see it. Joe Buck was right. Red Sox fans have longed to hear it.
This celebration, if it comes about, will be more like a huge party of epic proportions. Or, to tie it in with 1912, titanic proportions.
If you were at the TD Garden the night Paul Pierce stood on the dais with his Finals MVP trophy and drank in all the love and adulation he was getting, remember that night, multiply it by about a thousand, and you'll get what this week will be like if the Sox win one more game. The duck boat parade will be a doozy, but perhaps not too much different from the 2007 affair (who will be the dancing maven this year with Jonathan Papelbon now a Phillie?). It's the Fenway celebration that will be the unique and signature moment of the season and the year.
Bill Buckner was in late in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series only because John McNamara wanted Billy Buck in the victory celebration photographs. If the Sox win the whole thing at Fenway, the victory celebration photos will be instantly iconic and indelible. The shot of that Boston police officer raising his arms while Torii Hunter flopped over the bullpen wall will be quickly forgotten (and thankfully so) when all these shots come in. It will be a party like no other in this area.
But the Red Sox still need to win one more game.
In 1926, the Cardinals went to Yankee Stadium down 3-2 and won both games. They came home down 3-2 in 1982 and won both games. Most recently, they came home two years ago down 3-2 and won both games.
But they came home up 3-2 in 1968 and lost both games, and went on the road in both 1985 and 1987 up 3-2 and lost both games. It can go either way.
Game 6 will feature a rematch of last Thursday's Game 2 at Fenway, with John Lackey for the Red Sox and rookie phenom Michael Wacha for the Cardinals. If it goes to Game 7, it will be Jake Peavy for the Red Sox and Joe Kelly for the Redbirds, with Johnny Wholestaff in both bullpens. The Red Sox could very easily lose two games as they could win one.
But no one around here wants to hear about a miracle Cardinal win and a repeat of 1926. Red Sox Nation wants the party of all parties. They want to see something that hasn't been seen around here since their great-grandfathers were alive. They want to see the final out and the big celebration pulled off by the Olde Towne Team, not by Bob Gibson in 1967 and Cesar Geronimo in 1975.
And John Farrell will wait until after the game before saying something like "Lackey and champagne!" If Peter Gammons wants to use the Mystic River Bridge as his inspiration for a game story, let it be after a Game 6 win that ends the Series, not just provides the most drama.
Whatever the case, Boston and New England are ready. If anyone knows how to party, it's New England.
And a championship party at Fenway would be the biggest party ever. It would be a party you would keep with you for the rest of your life.
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