Posted: Wednesday October 13, 2004 4:27PM; Updated: Wednesday October 13, 2004 4:27PM
As Abraham Lincoln spoke to Red Sox fans the other day:
Fourscore and six years ago our fathers saw before them, in this city, in Fenway Park, a Worlds Championship, granted Boston by the Red Sox, and dedicated to the proposition that as there had been so many before, so would so many more so soon follow.
Now we are engaged again in a great series, testing whether, without victory, this city or any city so dedicated to the national pastime can long endure. For it is our sorrow that, we, the heirs of Pilgrims past, have not enjoyed so much as one diamond diadem ever since. We are met again on two great ballfields, the one down within The Bronx, where a pinstriped plethora of World Championship banners wave with every gentle zephyr, the other here in the hallowed Fens, where, instead, it is but two monsters that loom above us -- the one a wall so green as it is high and wide, the other a thing larger yet in our misery, a spectral curse that covers us as a shroud. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should rid ourself of this greater monster.
But in a larger sense, we cannot overcome -- we cannot triumph -- we cannot conquer -- this October -- any October -- until we forgive all those brave BoSox who lost their noble reputations in certain cursed Series past. This world will little note nor long remember that we won the wild card or mopped up the Anaheim Angels until we, the loyal fans of this century, yet descended from the Royal Rooters of yore, grant to goats past our full pardon for the expiation of their calamitous transgressions. Especially, it falls to us, the living spectators, to forever forget the deadly sins past, put out from our minds that the poor Pesky held the ball, that the woeful Buckner could not grasp the ball, nor that the misguided Little would not take the ball from Pedro. Those honored Sox have given the last measure of their reputation so that we citizens might actually revel in our melancholy, even as we pretend to despise our despair.
Now we must resolve to exculpate all who have, in their wayward exercise, cost us victories we believe were our rightful due. Above all, if we are at last to whip The Evil Empire and raise the Championship ensign where for so long a curse has lain upon us, we of the Red Sox nation, under God, must banish all thoughts of that one grandest hero, once ours, so that memories of the Babe, by the Bambino, for the Sultan of Swat, shall yet perish from The Hub.
Sports Illustrated senior contributing writer Frank Deford is a regular contributor to SI.com and appears each Wednesday on National Public Radio's Morning Edition. He is a longtime correspondent for HBO's Real Sports and his new novel, An American Summer (Sourcebooks Trade), is available at bookstores everywhere.