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Baseball for Dummies
Rick Reilly
November 01, 2004
The Boston Red Sox? Mangy, loopy, unruly, bizarre, rebellious and going in a thousand different directions.
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November 01, 2004

Baseball For Dummies

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Oh, and ego is verboten anywhere. "You walk in, and somebody hollers, 'Nice hair!'" says pitcher Curtis Leskanic. "And then somebody says, 'Nice damn shoes!' And then somebody else rips you for something else. And you get to your locker, and you're like, Oh, my God! I'm an Idiot!" Welcome aboard!

But the best thing about the no go on ego is that it leaves only team, and Boston has the closest team in the big leagues. "I've never felt this kind of kinship in my life," says starter Curt Schilling.

"Every player in there," says the kid genius who brought them together, 30-year-old general manager Theo Epstein, "has more concern about his teammates than himself. Because you don't come back from 0--3 against the New York Yankees for yourself."

Take Schilling. To pitch Game 6 of the ALCS and Game 2 of the World Series, he underwent an improvised surgical procedure his doctor tried out beforehand on a cadaver. (Not to worry-- Bud Selig never felt a thing.) "I [did] it for these 24 guys," Schilling says. "They're my family."

If so, it's the Addams family. Even Francona looks like Uncle Fester's grandson. "I've got no hair, and I've got a nose that's three sizes too big for my face," says Francona, whose claim to fame before the playoffs was being Michael Jordan's manager with the Double A Birmingham Barons. "My skin's pretty thick."

He needs it. Every sports section and baseball website gave the edge in Series managing to reigning wizard Tony La Russa of the Cards. "Hey, I don't blame 'em," says Francona, whose Sox took the first two games from La Russa's Cards. "I'd have picked him too."

A voice from the corner adds, "Me, too." It was Epstein, grinning.

These woolly Sox respect the sanctity of the World Series as much as they would a cafeteria food fight. During player introductions before Game 1, when it was Ramirez's turn to jog up the dugout steps in front of the worldwide TV audience, he didn't come out. Turns out first baseman Kevin Millar was holding on to him by his pants pockets.

"We're not very smart," says Damon, issuing the baseball quote of the year. "We're just playing baseball. If we use our brains, we're only hurting the team."

But here's the most idiotic thing: It actually makes sense.

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