Red Sox FINALLY champions
Sweep of Cardinals gives Boston first Series title in 86 years
By Ben Walker
ST. LOUIS -- They are now forever a part of New England lore, names such as Pokey Reese right up there with Paul Revere and Plymouth Rock.
Because these Boston Red Sox -- yes, the Boston Red Sox! -- are World Series champions at long, long last. No more curse and no doubt about it.
Pedro Martinez paraded the trophy down the left-field line, hoisting it high over his head with both hands after Boston won it for the first time since 1918, beating the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 Wednesday night for a four-game sweep.
Thousands of Red Sox fans at Busch Stadium roared. Seeing was believing, but they still couldn't believe their eyes.
"We know people who are 90 years old who have just said: 'Just one championship before I die,"' Red Sox chairman Tom Werner said.
Johnny Damon homered on the fourth pitch of the game, Derek Lowe made it stand up and the Red Sox wrapped up a Series in which they never trailed.
Ridiculed and reviled through decades of defeat, the Red Sox didn't just defeat the Cardinals. They dominated the team with the best record in baseball.
"All of our fans have waited all their lives for this night, and it's finally here. These guys did it for you, New England," Red Sox owner John Henry said.
Chants of "Thank you, Red Sox!" bounced all around the ballpark when it was over, with Boston fans as revved-up as they were relieved.
Only 10 nights earlier, the Red Sox were just three outs from getting swept by the New York Yankees in the AL championship series before becoming the first team in baseball postseason history to overcome a 3-0 deficit.
It was Boston's sixth championship, but the first after 86 years of frustration and futility, after two world wars, the Great Depression, men on the moon, and the rise and fall of the Soviet Union.
After all that, on an eerie night when the moon went dark in a total eclipse, MVP Manny Ramirez and the Red Sox made it look easy. They became the third straight wild-card team to win the Series, and the first club to win eight straight in a postseason.
Gone was the heartbreak of four Game 7 losses since their last title, a drought -- some insist it was a curse -- that really began after they sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in 1920.
Damon's leadoff homer against Jason Marquis and Trot Nixon's two-out, two-run double on a 3-0 pitch in the third inning were all that Lowe and the bullpen needed.
"They outplayed us in every category, so it ended up not being a terrific competition," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. "We were ready to play. We didn't play good enough."
Having won the first-round clincher against Anaheim in relief and then winning Game 7 at Yankee Stadium, Lowe blanked the Cards on a mere three hits for seven innings.
Relievers Bronson Arroyo and Alan Embree worked the eighth and Keith Foulke finished it off for his first save.
Even before Doug Mientkiewicz caught Foulke's toss on Edgar Renteria's grounder for the last out, the Red Sox were rushing out of the dugout. Boston players streamed in from the bullpen, and they all came together in a pulsating pile between the mound and first base.
With flashbulbs popping, the hugging and jumping was electrifying. And why not? The day that would never quite come for a generation of Red Sox players and fans had arrived.
Now the Red Sox get to raise the World Series banner next April 11 in the home opener at Fenway Park, with the vanquished Yankees in town forced to watch. No telling who will be there -- 18 Boston players are potential free agents, including Martinez and Lowe.
"I wish we could get our rings tomorrow," Lowe said. "Unbelievable -- no more going to Yankee Stadium and having to listen to '1918."'