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On Top of the World
TOM VERDUCCI
November 10, 2004
THE SOX CRUSHED THE CURSE AND THE CARDS TO WIN THEIR FIRST CHAMPIONSHIP IN 86 YEARS
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November 10, 2004

On Top Of The World

THE SOX CRUSHED THE CURSE AND THE CARDS TO WIN THEIR FIRST CHAMPIONSHIP IN 86 YEARS

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GAME 1 at Boston

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GAME 2 at Boston

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GAME 3 at St. Louis

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GAME 4 at St. Louis

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HERE LIES THE CURSE OF THE BAMBINO, BORN DEC. 26, 1919, THE DAY Red Sox owner Harry Frazee sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees, and died Oct. 27, 2004, the day a group of wild-haired, self-styled Idiots completed one of the most one-sided sweeps in World Series history, not to mention the greatest reversal of fortune the sports world may ever have witnessed.

"It is," general manager Theo Epstein said after his team's domination of the St. Louis Cardinals, "the ultimate cleansing."

On Oct. 17 the Red Sox were three outs away from being eliminated in the ALCS, four games to none, by the Yankees and a rested Mariano Rivera. Ten days later they were world champions, becoming the first team to win eight consecutive games in the same postseason and only the fourth to sweep the World Series without ever trailing. (They matched the 1963 Dodgers, the 1966 Orioles and the 1989 Athletics in the Clean Sweep Club.)

The Sox did not trail in the final 60 innings of their season, dating to a two-run, game-tying rally in the eighth inning of ALCS Game 5. In killing the Curse, they vanquished two of the franchise's most wicked tormentors, the Yankees and the Cardinals, who between them had eliminated Boston six times: 1946, 1949, 1967, 1978, 1999 and 2003.

This brand of baseball for Idiots was built on two brilliantly assembled forces perfectly suited for postseason baseball: a relentless, grinding offensive machine and a strike-throwing, power-based starting rotation equipped to thwart similarly deep lineups. St. Louis was overmatched. Its starting pitchers, for instance, were pummeled for 18 runs in only 17 1/3 innings. Tellingly, they threw 369 pitches but managed to get the Red Sox to swing and miss at only 17 of them.

The death of the Curse was emphatic. Never again will the Red Sox have to listen to the "1918!" chant. "Now," closer Keith Foulke said, "it is history. Now we worry only about the future."

GAME 1 at Boston

RED SOX 11, CARDINALS 9

Eighteen years in the waiting, the World Series returned to Boston ingloriously on a night when the weather and the baseball were equally raw. The Red Sox committed four errors, including one comedic, divot-making pratfall by leftfielder Manny Ramirez, blew leads of 4-0 and 7-2, yanked their starting pitcher in the fourth inning--and somehow won.

The Sox and their fans were in no position to quibble about the aesthetics of what was the highest scoring Game 1 in World Series history and tied for sixth-highest among all Series games. It was, given the usual looseness with which Boston plays, as much of a laugher as an 11-9 game can be. For instance, after Ramirez made like Seinfeld's Kramer on a pop fly in the eighth that allowed St. Louis to tie the game at 9--immediately after an error on a grounder that clanked off his glove-- Ramirez joked to teammate Dave Roberts, "Snipers got me."

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