With the last out of the 2007 World Series, Jonathan Papelbon launched his glove skyward, while Jason Varitek flung his mask behind him. The two battery mates proceeded to embrace, then cry. Joined by their teammates, they spent the next few hours drinking and dousing each other with alcohol.
No other scenario in the year 2007, not graduations, births of children, or weddings, would permit grown men and public icons to engage in such frivolities without drawing raised eyebrows and a provocative post on PerezHilton.com.
But being as this was the World Series, the celebration was captured by video so marketable it could be viewed only with the expressed, written consent of Major League Baseball.
I have always advocated that "World Series Title" be a party theme on campus. People would show up in goggles and cut-off T-shirts and spray each other with champagne. As enjoyable as that may sound, it pales to what the 2007 Red Sox, or any championship team, feels winning a title.
There has never been a sense of "been there, done that" with championships. As one footballer has put it, his favorite title will be his next one. The 2004 World Series did not diminish what the 2007 title meant to the Boston Red Sox — just look at Terry Francona's reaction of unbridled joy. Ditto for David Ortiz.
But while the players' reactions mimicked 2004, the circumstances were entirely divorced.
2004 was improbable. 2007 was logical. The Sox were every bit the 2-1 favorite the wiseguys in Vegas made them out to be before the series. Watching the Sox outscore the Rockies 29-10 during four games was like watching one of those Discovery Channel videos where a panther mauls a gazelle. Awesome to watch, but devoid of uncertainty.
Falling in love with the 2004 Sox was like Matthew falling for Elisha Cuthbert in the "The Girl Next Door." Falling in love with the 2007 team was like wifing your high school sweetheart.
The 2004 team was a sultry ex-porn star that asked, "What was the craziest thing you've done lately?" Before I could process what was happening, I was hopping buck-naked into the principal's pool and buying World Series DVDs, something no one else had done before, technology being considerably more infantile in 1918.
The 2007 Sox were the safe choice that said and did all the right things, and at the end of the day, they were always around. Indeed Jacoby Ellsbury, I just can't quit you.
This year's Sox were the most complete team since (gulp) the 1998 Yankees, a team that won 114 games and swept the San Diego Padres in the World Series.
On Whatifsports.com, I simulated a seven game series between the two teams. With home field advantage, the Sox lose in seven. Without it, they lose in six. But the 2007 Red Sox win in six games against the 1995 Atlanta Braves, a team so loaded they trotted out Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Steve Avery as starting pitchers.
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This year's Red Sox team was so deep; they won with a center fielder who didn't start until Game 6 of the ALCS. The winning home run in Game 4 of the World Series was hit by a flame-haired journeyman plucked off waivers in September and who saw exactly one pitch during the Series.
Left off the postseason roster was Clay Buchholz, who earlier this year threw a no-hitter. Every time the Sox were threatened this postseason, they responded. Down 3-1 during Game 5 of the ALCS, Josh Beckett began the game striking out the first four Indians' hitters. When Julio Lugo made a potentially historic error during Game 7 of the ALCS, the team turned a double-play to kill the threat, and scored two runs the next inning. When Matt Holliday hit a three-run home run during game three of the World Series, the Sox scored three runs during the next half-inning.
During the final game, with the Rockies within one and Coors Field erupting, Mike Timlin recorded two clutch outs with a matter-of-factness that told the baseball world, "Seriously, we're better than everyone else." And that's why you'll never know what a sports championship feels like. You've probably played sports — everyone does as a kid — but never at the level where it was life-consuming, where winning implies you are, in fact, better than everyone else.
But you can appreciate the celebration, and for that alone, the juice will always be worth the squeeze.
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