This is my daughter, Grace's Red Sox speech
There was that chant again. As distracting as it must have been for the Red Sox players, it was heart wrenching for us watching at home. Must they rub it in our faces? Oh, why, of course they must. They are Yankee fans. But little did those fans know that this would be the year that THEY choked, and we triumphed.
So, what made this year different than all other 86 years? Could it be that Jesus was playing in Center Field under the Alias “Johnny Damon”? Could it be because of Curt’s passionate courage? Was it because so many men had the threat of being free agents the next year? And who is that guy ‘Belhorn’ getting almost as many strikeouts as Babe Ruth? What really was it that drove the Red Sox to their first world series since that dreaded year: 1918?
There are many, many reasons, but for the sake of time I will focus on only 3;
Johnny Damon, Curt Shilling, and The Fans of the Boston Red Sox.
Conan O’Brien, the host of “Late night with Conan O’Brien” had this opinion: “When your leadoff hitter is a 600,000 year old caveman, an 86 year-long curse seems pretty insignificant.”
To understand what this means I must take you back to spring training 2004, where the leadoff man Johnny Damon stepped out onto the City of Palms Park field right here in Florida and shocked his teammates and Sox fans with his wild caveman like look. His hair was to be envied by women (yes, women) everywhere…his beard to be longed for by a gillet razor. Damon went from being an average, mostly unheard of Center fielder, to the catalyst and jumpstart of the 2004 world champion Red Sox. We can only speculate at what transformed this scruffy man into the player who had an on base % of .380, scored 123 times, and had 94 RBIs. He bulked up over the off season, grew his hair out, didn’t shave, and ~WALLA~…one of his best seasons ever.
In case you haven’t seen a red sox game, or seen Mr. Damon in the sports section of the newpaper, I’d like to paint a short picture of what he looks like. His dark brown hair is past his shoulders, stadiums like to play “the dude looks like a lady” when he comes to bat, his beard gets bushy fast, and he’s above 6’. Now, this probably sounds like the last person you’d like to meet in a dark alley, but in reality Johnny Damon is one of the most loved players on the Boston Red Sox, by fans and players alike "He's the nicest guy in the world'' commented teammate Gabe Capler. Lovingly nicknamed the “caveman” or “Jesus” Johnny has really stuck out in more ways than one. With his look, his glove, his bat, and his team spirit.
After we all got over the initial shock of his new look, it seemed to really grow on people, “Our caveman’s pretty awesome” said Jason Varitek (the catcher for the red sox and the team captain) New pictures of Johnny Damon began to appear on Sox fan’s walls (namely mine).
Johnny Damon summed up his job as leadoff man by saying; "My job is to go out there and score lots of runs and get on base. and I have so many big guys who hit behind me." but he doesnt just get on base, he also plays the wall (better known as "the Green Monster") better than anyone since fred lynn (so says Johnny Pesky, former red sox great)
But Johnny catapulted the Red Sox to this World Series not only with his strength and athleticism, but with his vibrant personality. This was recognized when he received the Jackie Jensen Award for leadership and team spirit.
but personality and athleticism isnt the only thing that wins you a world series, Some call it being courageous, some call it fortitude, others call it perseverance, I prefer to just call it Guts. Something that Red sox ace Curt shilling seems to be made of.
Curt aggravated an old injury in his ankle in early october, but instead of sit out and watch his teammates compete in the post season, he made a daring move by getting an temporary radical surgery that stitched him up inside the ankle to keep the tendon in his leg in place so that he could push off his ankle to pitch...
And pitch he did...in the 6th game of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees and the second game of the World Series, and win he also did–both times. Headlines the next day read “Red Sox [s-o-x], Red Socks [S-o-c-k-s]” What exactly were they referring to? They were talking about curt shillings blood soaked sock. Yes, his ankle bled, leaving his sock red for all to see, who could not root for this man and his team? Here he was, probably in such pain through every pitch, and yet through all this, with blood on his sock and the air so cold you could smell snow curt shilling pitched 7 innings in the game against the yankees allowing only 1 run to score and 6 excellent innings in game 2 of the world series allowing only 4 hits!
This mans almost non-human fortitude is amazing and must have spurred on his fellow red sox to give it their all. If an injured pitcher can play that amazing, surely they could do the same. Which they did. The sox won both games 4-2, and 6-2.
After the game against the yankees Shilling was asked how much it hurt to pitch, but he didnt talk about how hard it was, and how he just had to do it for the team, or about how proud he was that he could do it, instead he gave the glory to someone bigger than himself; "Seven years ago I became a Christian, tonight, God did something amazing for me....I knew I wasn't going to be able to do this alone. And I prayed as hard as I could. I didn't pray to get a win or to make great pitches. I just prayed for the strength to go out there and compete, and He gave me that. I can't explain to you what a feeling it was to be out there and to feel what I felt.''
When I saw curt shilling pitching with his bloody ankle, when Isaw him wince just from throwing a regular fastball....thats when I knew, this was it. This IS the year, theres no way we can lose with that kind of man on the mound.
Other fans seem to think so too, and this belief in the team we love seems to give the players even more drive. Doug Mirabelli said of the fans "They really are the 26th man on this team."
Red Sox fans are notorious for their loyalty; Fenway sells out almost every single game. The fact that the sox hadn’t won the World Series for 86 years, seemed to matter little, as signs bearing messages like “This is the year” and “We Believe” graced the stands. Fans this devoted deserve a world series.
Growing up in Massachusetts teaches you a lot, I mean, theirs monuments, ships, historic homes, and so much more. But one really big thing that anyone who is raised there will take away with them is, that we must never, never, never, give up on our team. They WILL win. It may not be now, and it may not be tomorrow. But they will, and you must always believe.
Billboards are seen saying “keep the faith”, or have pictures of players on them. Baseball in Massachusetts is much more than baseball—its beauty, its passion, its hunger, its failure, it encompasses all that we hold dear, in one team—The Red Sox.
With this passion and this hunger, the fans of the boston red sox, watched huddled to the TV in the 4th game against new york…The yanks had won the first three games—if they won this one, we were out….done for, it would have to be ‘next year’-----Again.
But with their fans behind them the red sox did what everyone said was impossible, they beat the Yankees that game, and the next, and the next, and the next, to get to, and win the biggest prize: The World Series.
So, what was it that made this year different from all other 86 years? I think it can be summed up in a 2 words: Passion and Spirit. Many people say that baseball is a thinking mans game, and indeed it is, but it is also a game where you have to be passionate, be willing to go the extra mile, and you also, must be able to keep up your spirits when the going gets rough. Johnny Damon, Curt Shilling, and Red Sox Fans everywhere exibit these 2 things every game, every season, every year. We used to end baseball season by saying "Wait till next year", I'm proud to end this season by saying for the Yawkey’s, Ted Williams, Bill Buckner, Nomar Garciaparra, Johnny Pesky, Carlton Fisk, Yaz and all the other red sox greats who never got to experience what this feels like;
"We did it.
We are the Champions of the world"