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My Sportsman Choice: Red Sox Nation

Posted: Friday November 26, 2004 12:34PM; Updated: Monday November 29, 2004 2:24PM
EMAIL ALERTS EMAIL THIS PRINT THIS SAVE THIS MOST POPULAR

By Chris Stone

Red Sox fans
After the World Series sweep, Red Sox fans partied like it was 1918.
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
 Chris Stone: Red Sox Nation, you've earned this one
 Paul Zimmerman: Boy Wonder brought Boston a title
 B.J. Schecter: Red Sox captured Boston's heart
 Richard Deitsch: The Babe had a big presence in '04
 Rick Reilly: Big Papi did it all for the world champs
 Jeffri Chadiha: A reward for reversing The Curse
 Lisa Altobelli: Ramirez never took anything seriously
 Sportsman of the Year archive

Received an e-mail after Game 4 of the World Series from my high school buddy Garry. Guy was a huge -- George Scott-huge -- Red Sox fan before he checked out of the secular world and moved to Jerusalem to become a rabbi 10 years ago. Hadn't heard from him in years, but I knew he had long ago stopped combing the box scores, asking where it all went wrong with Wes Gardner, wondering why Jeff Stone never got a shot. But there his e-mail awaited me, under the subject heading Need Clarification -- Urgent! It read:

Chris,

As my foremost sports authority, please tell me, in no uncertain terms, did the BoSox win it all or is this just an Internet hoax?

Best,
G

You don't need to be the Amazing Kreskin to see where this is going. Unlike many of my colleagues here at Sox, er, Sports Illustrated, I won't limit my Sportsman selection to an individual member of the Red Sox franchise. (Who, after all, other than Euclides Rojas, Ramiro Mendoza and one or two batboys hasn't already been nominated?) I'll abstain too from nominating the entire Red Sox team however worthy they might be. This year is bigger than that. This amphora belongs to Garry, among countless others. It's also for:

Johnny Pesky, Bobby Doerr, Yaz, Eck, Fisk, Jim Ed, alums who understood what all the teeth-gnashing and 3 a.m. bar stool rants were about ....

For Teddy Ballgame, Helen Robinson, Ned Martin, Tony C., Bart Giamatti, Ken Coleman and Will McDonough, whom I like to think took October 2004 in from the same luxury box in the sky. The commemorative DVD is in the mail....

For Damon and Affleck, Sox-crazed celebs who'd never get caught showing in the third and ditching in the seventh. (Who can forget Affleck convincing J-Lo to sit for the entirety of a relatively meaningless 14-inning Sox victory over the Angels in April 2003? Big ups, Gigli)....

For John Updike, who in a perfect world will pen, for the New Yorker, the coda to this singular season, "Hub Fans Bid Curse Adieu". ...

For The Curse. You gave us plenty to chew on. Now do as Keith Foulke says and go stick yourself where the sun don't shine. ...

For the Sons of Sam Horn, as unrelenting today in their thirst for a title (and in their enmity for the Empire) as they were in spring training '04. ...

For Gammons, Montville, Shaughnessy, Massarotti and all the other New England-reared Knights of the Keyboard who, out of professional necessity, had to check their lifelong allegiance to the Sox at the press box door. ...

For Bill Simmons, who unabashedly and blessedly did not. ...

For Dave Henderson, who, after the '86 Series, might have had a statue erected for him in Faneuil Hall if not ....

For Billy Buck, the Steamer, Schiraldi and Johnny Mac, none of whom should have suffered the relentless barbs, the most insulting of which was the "forgiveness" so patronizingly bestowed upon them after this year's Series. ...

For every elementary school student who cited as a turning point in American history Aparicio falling down as he rounded third in Detroit during the final weekend of the '72 season. ...

Or Vern Ruhle cracking Rice's left hand with a fastball in the final month of '75. ...

Or Lou Piniella chasing down Lynn's screamer in the right-field corner in the sixth inning of the one-game playoff in '78. ...

For every fan who lists "The kid's got ice water in his veins" as among the most memorable, Bartlett's-worthy utterances in 20th-century American history....

Or "Six, two and even".  ...

Or "That's what happens when you build a ballpark on the ocean". ...

Or "Baseball is not a matter of life and death. The Red Sox are". ...

For those of you who know what the hell I'm talking about. ...

For the Riviera Café in lower Manhattan, the hub of the Red Sox Diaspora, an underground joint where bankers, graphic designers and aging revolutionaries quaffed, suffered, bitched and ultimately exulted in the name of Schill, Petey and Theo. ...

For the anonymous barfly in the since-razed Abbey Feare Pub who on a chill winter's night three months after the '75 World Series loss to the Reds silently downed a small lake of 25-cent drafts, turned to a few patrons at night's end and mumbled, a propos of nothing, 'How could he have taken out Willoughby?' before passing out right there at the bar. ...

For the New Haven barkeep, who, after the Bucky (Bleepin') Dent disaster of 78, cried the immortal words, 'The sons of bitches killed our fathers. Now they're coming for us"'. ...

For our fathers. Our daddies. Our papis. ...

For us....

Red Sox Nation. 2004 Sportsmen of the Year.

  React: Who's your Sportsman of the Year?
Your name: Your E-mail Address: Your Hometown:
Make your case:

Sports Illustrated will announce the 2004 Sportsman of the Year winner on FOX on November 28. Check back every weekday until then to read more Sportsman picks from SI writers.

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