Things are going well for the Jeffster. Talking to Mom recently, she said that now is the time to play the lottery. Can’t argue there.
It’s Day Red Sox win the World Series plus two. Still kind of numb about it, unable to believe that it really happened. I’m sure it did, since I was in St. Louis and all, and celebrated in the stands with thousands of other fans clad in B hats and Red Sox jerseys. Still, next spring we’ll all still be wandering around, thinking, “We won the Series, right? Pinch me. Ow! Yep, still the champions.” (Nerd alert) Must be how Luke and Leia and Han and the rest of the rebellion felt after ridding the world of the Ring and the Evil Empire associated with it.
Is my life really changed? I guess not. The doom and gloom that
ESPN.com columnist Bill Simmons posts letters from readers in today’s edition, more than one using the metaphor that the Sox winning the World Series is a good thing based on dating. This is something that perked me up, with my recent success in this field. They said that it’s like the friend who could never get a girlfriend, and all seemed hopeless. Then one day it happens and he’s taken:
Suddenly he is hanging out at bars with her, holding her hand, smiling and being calm, personable and content … As far as his friends are concerned, they have lost a source of great material. A piece of the group dynamic is missing. But he doesn't care about the part he played as the pathetic, desperate loser. He is just happy. All those people who say Red Sox fans have lost their identity are just upset that they no longer have stories of curses and failure and heart-ache to tell. We're just happy, and wouldn't trade this for all the identities in the world.
I've been in Memphis all week, having taken a vacation the week of the World Series, before the season even started. How's that for jinxing the Sox? But I didn't! Dad did the same and we were going to find them wherever we could. Thankfully St. Louis is only a 4 hour drive north, so Wednesday morning we drove up for game four with the Sox up in the Series, 3-0, on the Cardinals.
Leaving at 9:50 a.m., we stopped twice, once for lunch in Blytheville, Ark., and another time south of St. Louis to change into our Red Sox jerseys. Actually, Dad wore one of mine, that I had embroidered with Boston legend Carl Yastrzemski’s name and number 8. I wore current catcher Jason Varitek's home 33. My road jersey has Nomar's 5, so I'm not sure I can ever wear it again.
Gretchen Wilson remade her hit song “Redneck Woman” for her home state, titled “Redbirds Fever.” That’s nice and all, but you’re still gonna lose, baby! What? Who’s arrogant? Hey, I ain’t no high class dude, either.
There is apparently a rule in Missouri where construction crews must block off ten-mile stretches of interstate and force us to drive 35 mph the entire leg, yet they only work on 100 yards at a time. I don’t think that just because Missouri is the Show-Me State that we should be required to look at it while driving 35 on the highway.
Despite the lull, we breezed into downtown and parked in a garage literally across the street from Busch Stadium at 3 p.m. Only $20! (Why, I could get a pair of shoes with that!) It was time to face down the lowest form of humanity known to sports fankind: scalpers. *Shudder* Seriously, does anyone consider scalping a legitimate form of living? Is pimping or drug smuggling that much lower of a career choice?
I say this, of course, because tickets were impossible to come by. It was a seller's market, and hundreds of fans, mostly wearing Red Sox gear, holding up one or two fingers. We walked around Busch Stadium some five times in pursuit of tickets and souvenirs, coming up short on both ends. There were almost zero Red Sox souvenirs. Hello! There are thousands of Sox fans in the city!
It's like when we visit Tampa for a few games, half the fans are rooting for Boston yet there aren't any non-D'Ray souvenirs in the store. Dummies. I thought Major League Baseball was a for-profit organization? Quit bitching about money woes when you can’t figure out easy ways to make a few bucks, such as catering to your crowd. It’s like going to McDonald’s and one of the franchises refuses to sell McNuggets because they’re afraid Burger King workers down the street might buy some.
At first Dad and I stopped at a place near the stadium called Paddy O’s for dinner. Service was slow and there was one small TV in the room (in a sports bar!?), which meant this might not be the place to watch the game, which, then again, didn’t start for two hours. Still plenty of time to beg for tickets outside, am I right? That didn’t go so well, either. Now there are thousands of buyers and maybe two sellers. The cheapest tickets we were offered were about $500 a pop, and thanks, but until I win the lottery or rob a drug dealer in a noble citizen’s arrest and pocket some of their cash wads, I’ll hold off.
We ended up watching the game from across the street at a bar in the Westin hotel with a few other Sox fans, notably Ann Marie (a flight attendant!) and her ex-boyfriend, Jose, who flew up that morning for game four and were flying back out at 6 a.m. the next day, so like us, they wanted the Series to end with us in the city! The game progressed in our vicinity without much drama.
Cardinals fans outnumbered us, but had about as much crowd excitement as when the midget Latinos are in the ring at wrestling matches.
Did anyone else expect any other outcome before the game? The Red Sox were going to finish off the sweep no matter what, it seemed. When The Passion of Johnny Damon willed his first hit as a home run to lead off the game and bread and fish magically appeared at every concession stand, the 1% of remaining doubt vanished.
Well, I mean, to a point. This is still the Red Sox we’re talking about. Even though Dad’s adamant about not counting outs until the ninth inning, I started doing so in the middle of the game, silently.
Ten seconds before Trot Nixon laced a double off the wall to score two runs and put Boston up 3-0, I leaned over to Dad and remarked, “The Sox are really good at picking their spots on 3-0 counts.” (Meaning, of course, three balls and no strikes, a situation many managers would have the hitters take a pitch and hope for a walk. Boston knows when to swing, and has the green light to get the big numbers.)
The grill wasn’t exactly a sports bar, but it had a chair for me and a TV to watch, and that’s all I needed. Well, that and finger foods. We settled on margherita (Yes! Spelled it right the first time! High five!) pizza, which was cold and tasted funny, then we had it reheated and it was hot, soft and tasted funny later. As if I could eat after the fourth inning anyway. Pshaw!
By the seventh inning, my legs are flip-flopping under the table more than John Kerry’s international “secret plan.” In the eighth inning, I’m watching the game through a hole in the top of my cap. By the ninth inning I’m standing up, bouncing up and down like Tigger on speed, until that final out.
Jumping up and down, high-fiving and hugging complete strangers, it’s party time. I made sure to give Dad a big hug, because none of the experience would be the same if the man who sired me as a Red Sox fan hadn’t been there.
Afterwards, the Card fans were all very gracious and many came out of their way to say that if they couldn’t win, they were glad it was Boston. Damn straight. We were just happy to be there; if the Yanks had been playing all their arrogant and obnoxious fans would have had St. Louis in a pissed-off tizzy. It follows everywhere the Bleepin’ Yanks go, like a silent, smelly fart you are trying to pretend not to have produced in public.
One of the guys there was Ron Darling, former Major League pitcher, known to us as on the staff of the Mets in ’86. He made sure to say congratulations to all of us celebrating, which was cool of him.
Steve managed to call me a couple of times, but because of the crush of callers around the area he got the “all circuits are busy” message a few times. Scott and Jenn left me a message, and Dad was able to make sure they sufficiently celebrated the win down in Texas, etc.
A few minutes later, Dad and I and the flight attendant and her ex made our way to Busch Stadium through a surreal mob of red-clad St. Louis fans who just stared blankly at us like they were in the Dawn of the Dead and couldn’t believe we infiltrated their zombie party. Avoiding having our brains eaten, Ann Marie led the way into the lower level entrance where the locker rooms are and sweet talked the attendant into letting us through. Eventually I heard that all Red Sox fans were let into the Stadium, but we didn’t want to take the chance so we lied.
Um, if you’re under 12 and evaluating your morals, hey, sorry, but sometimes a little white lie is okay.
Inside the Stadium was Red Sox pandemonium. Thousands of Boston fans lined the third base dugout where the players, managers, owners, family and probably even some tailors mingled and celebrated on the field. I looked around, thinking how smelly this same crowd would be by April, because Red Sox fans are so superstitious that we’re all saying, “I’ll never take off this jersey/hat/jeans/shoes/underwear” again!
First things first was to take pictures, especially with the big animated sign in the outfield that read “Congratulations Boston Red Sox 2004 World Series Champions.” The last time a sign said that was by accident in ’86 when the Mets put it on the board when trailing in the tenth. Oops.
There were plenty of St. Louis fans who stuck around, especially on the first base side, taking in the spectacle of a World Series final, but by and large there were Sox fans overloading the place. Boston Globe blogger Eric Wilbur on the scene:
This was different winning this here (Wednesday) night as opposed to the pandemonium in New York, where Sox fans partied in the enemy’s house. Here, it was like, “Oh, well. Jolly good show then. Feel free to jam out here. Just shut off the lights on your way out, OK chaps?”
Dad and I made our way the fifth row to take pictures and chant and cheer every single person affiliated with the win. I'm pretty sure there was a chant for GM Theo Epstein's parents, too, not to mention Curt Schilling’s doctor. The baseball gods doth shine down on us. EXTREMELY good times.
Imagine it’s the end of The Goonies, and every person on the beach finds a pouch full of One-Eyed Willie’s precious jewels. It was that boisterous.
We left an hour after the final pitch, hopping in the car a little before Midnight and encountered no traffic since the Card fans were long gone. I was tired, but wired, and looking for every sports/talk station I could find to hear them talk about the win, pausing to shove in a Twizzler and Diet Cherry Coke while Dad napped on and off. I made only one stop, north of Arkansas (motto: “Nothing to see here. Please move along”), breezing through the Missouri fog until we got back at 4:30 Thursday morning. Still on cloud nine.
Because, you know, the Red Sox won. The World Series. That will never get old.
Thankfully, 1918 is just another year now. I guess it's when WWI ended. Oh, and the Sox won their fifth of six titles. As some paper headlined Thursday, the long wait has been 86'd and we're free!
Um, now what?
Oh yeah. Duh. The victory party, which should last about, oh, five years!
Uh-huh. Wait until next June if the Sox drop two of three in Bleepin’ Yankee Stadium. “You bums, kick those friggin’ New Yawkers butts!”
It’s a brave new world for Red Sox fans. Let us begin anew, and hope that I’m not telling my grandchildren in sixty years about how I was in St. Louis in 2004 for their last World Series title.
How about a joke to end on?
Q. What do you call 25 guys watching the World Series?
A. The Yankees.