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Friday, October 29, 2004
Updated: May 31, 2:26 PM ET
Basking in the Nation's afterglow

By Bill Simmons
Page 2

Sorry I couldn't come up with a column for you today ... I've been busy struggling with the loss of my identity.

Red Sox
If you know a Red Sox fan out there, chances are they haven't done any work since ... oh ... Game 1 of the ALDS.
Like every other Red Sox fan, I defined myself by the fact that my baseball team couldn't come through when it mattered. I liked supporting a loser. Deep down, I was always terrified that they would win the World Series, only because I wouldn't have any reason to follow baseball anymore. I don't enjoy baseball, or following a team of 25 guys, or the ups and downs of a six-month season. I just thrived on that familiar pain every October when the Red Sox choked again. Now it's gone. And I'm useless.

(See how ridiculous that looks in print? We just wanted to be another baseball team again! Why can't anyone understand this? To every radio host and columnist who tried to argue the logic of the previous paragraph in the past 24 hours -- and expected people to take you seriously -- kindly stab a pencil into your neck. I'm not kidding. Jam a pencil right into your jugular vein. Do us all a favor.)

Anyway, I'm devoting this column to some of the e-mails I received over the past 24 hours. But before that happens, a few quick thoughts:

  • If you didn't hear the news, the Red Sox will be hoisting that 2004 World Champions banner and handing out rings at Fenway on Monday, April 11th ... and yes, the Yankees will be in town. Come on, everybody ...

    YEAR TWO THOU-SAND!

    (Clap clap clap-clap-clap.)

    YEAR TWO THOU-SAND!

    (Clap clap clap-clap-clap.)

  • As predicted, the Yankee fans have already gone to Plan G: The "Congratulations, only 25 more to go before you catch us" backhanded compliment. Good one. Didn't see that coming at all. But if we're counting championships, the Sox have actually won seven total -- so we have 19 to go, not 26. At least get your facts straight.

  • Did you hear about Schilling laying the smack down on A-Rod on WEEI yesterday? This news story has all the details. Let's hope A-Rod puts down the purple lipstick and decides to fire back.

  • Speaking of radio shows, Bill Buckner weighed in on James Brown's radio show, saying that he didn't want to be forgiven and seeming generally angry about the whole thing. I don't blame him. In case you missed it, I wrote about this two years ago.

  • The big controversy from Game 4: A number of incredulous readers wondering how I could possibly go to Starbucks in the fourth inning of a potential World Series clincher. Apparently, I'm supposed to be chained to a chair for the entire game. Anyway, this is a four-part answer:

    1. I love coffee. Drink it twice a day.

    2. There are no Dunkin Donuts in California. I have already gone on the record with how much I abhor Starbucks. There are no other options. Trust me.

    3. The nearest Starbucks is a 25-second drive from my house. I timed it today. It's probably a four-minute round trip in all. Since commercials last three minutes, I missed a minute of live action ... which wasn't really live since I was getting the seven-second delay on TiVo (plus I could just rewind and see what I missed). Also -- and you're not going to believe this -- but they actually broadcast World Series games on the radio. I didn't miss a single pitch.

    4. I was jet-lagged from Tuesday's cross-country flight, plus I was facing a 3 a.m. night finishing the running diary (the hardest possible column for me to write). I needed an energy boost. The other option was sticking my face into a pile of coke like Tony Montana ... but coffee was considerably cheaper. I needed the caffeine boost. So there you go. You can now proceed with your lives.

    Dave Roberts
    From Mariano to Lowe to Millar to Roberts, the Fenway Faithful weren't letting the Yanks sweep anyone.

  • One last story, which I somehow never mentioned during my 480 columns over the past three weeks: Everyone keeps mentioning Millar's walk off Rivera in Game 4, followed by the Roberts steal and the Mueller RBI single -- that was the moment when things "turned" and the Red Sox started marching towards history. And I agree with that. To an extent.

    Because I was there. And the biggest moment of that game happened before it even started -- as Derek Lowe slowly trekked towards the bullpen and the fans stood up and cheered. Set the tone for the entire night. Here was this fragile, unreliable head case who tormented us for years -- up, down, up, down, up, down -- and we had every reason to be petrified. But nobody wanted to get swept. So we rallied him, partly because we didn't have a choice, partly because we thought we could carry him. And we did. One of those cool Fenway moments that slip under the radar sometimes.

    Onto the reader e-mails ...


    Did you ever have a friend who just never scored? He would go into one of those epic dry spells and get so desperate every night out that he would drink himself into oblivion, further ensuring failure as well as producing amazing stories for everyone else to tell. Then one day he gets a girlfriend. Suddenly he is hanging out at bars with her, holding her hand, smiling and being calm, personable and content. He will have a couple of drinks and eventually the two of them just say goodnight and go home together.

    As far as his friends are concerned, they have lost a source of great material. A piece of the group dynamic is missing. But he doesn't care about the part he played as the pathetic, desperate loser. He is just happy.

    All those people who say Red Sox fans have lost their identity are just upset that they no longer have stories of curses and failure and heart-ache to tell. We're just happy, and wouldn't trade this for all the identities in the world.
    -- Hugh Hallawell, Somerville, Mass.


    A small but cool and eerie aspect amidst a whole bunch of other stuff: the last St. Louis batter in Game 4 was Edgar Renteria. Renteria wears No. 3. If you don't know who else significantly wore No. 3, you really don't believe in the Curse. As it began, so it ends.
    -- Mal Waters, Mobile, Ala.


    One of the great unforeseen pleasures of the Red Sox winning the World Series is what I have dubbed "Red Sox Aftershock Syndrome." I was walking on the T platform at North Station last night an hour after the game ended. People were smiling, slapping high-fives, etc., but the full-on screaming had given way to a hazy, tired glee -- not unlike sex afterglow. Suddenly, this guy who did not in any way appear to be drunk or physically handicapped, and -- most importantly -- was alone threw both fists into the air, jerked violently, and screamed at the top of his lungs. It was as if he just realized what had happened an hour before. ... We all have different chemical and mental compositions and means of processing and dealing with things. I imagine that one will be able to witness instances of RSAS in Boston and throughout New England for several months to come, and everyone will just know.

    I can just see it, now ...

    Tourist: "What's up with that guy?"

    Bostonian: "Oh, he's just celebrating the Red Sox World Series victory."

    Tourist: "But that was two months ago. That guy is screaming and running in traffic."

    Bostonian: "What's your point?"
    -- Shane Cough


    Back in college, I had a friend who was also (as many friends are) a bitter rival. But when it came to girls, I always got the best of him. In fact, even though he was a good-looking guy, funny, etc -- he had never scored. Never had. Just had always had something thwart him. For years. There were a few notable times when we both went after the same girl, and he lost out, and I really rubbed his nose in it -- hey, we were friends and rivals and that was what we did to one another -- about Sega, about girls ... about life.

    The point is this: it became something not really even funny anymore. He never scored with girls -- never. Not once. Virgin. It started to be almost a self-fulfilling prophecy that something would go wrong with whatever girl he was after. And meanwhile, my personal life was very active and fun -- and that made his suffering all the worse for him.

    So I'll never forget this: One day, he called me. He had met some girl the night before, they went home together, and -- he'd done it. And he was just on top of the world. And then -- right then -- I was jealous. Why? Because of the girl -- no. Then why? Because think about it -- how excited you were for your first time -- you couldn't stop thinking about it or talking about it. It was as if nobody had ever had it so good before but you. But that feeling fades eventually. It had already by that time faded for me -- I'd already had girlfriends and flings and already had a history of my own.

    Yankee fans
    The lesson as always -- friends don't let friends become Yankee fans.
    But it hadn't for him. It was brand new. He got to do it all for the first time -- revel in all that happiness and joy for the first time in a way that I never would be able to again. And for that moment, though he was only finally reaching where I'd been for quite some time, I wished I could have traded places. His joy about it was a joy I had felt once -- but only once. The joy of that first time. And he had waited so long and suffered so much to get there, that when he did -- it was all the more special.

    And for that -- though we Yankee fans have done this quite a few times before -- I'm now jealous of you Sox fans. Because you now get to do it all -- the celebration, the champagne, the bond with a team that took you on the ride of your life -- for the first time. Feels good, doesn't it? No -- it feels GREAT. Just take it from us who have been there and done that -- try not to rub it in people's faces too much, lest people start to think you're spoiled brats.
    -- Dave S., New York, N.Y.


    Can you start writing about the Cubs now?
    -- Tom Stoner, Peoria, Ill.


    This whole baseball season I've been ripping off a line from one of your columns that, if I remember correctly, was actually written about NCAA basketball in late March/early April. In that column, you said something along the lines of "... if the Red Sox can't win it this year with Jesus Christ in center field, they'll never win it in my lifetime." That line made me laugh at the time and stuck with me through the season.

    As the game ended last night and tears of joy streamed down my face, I once again thought of that line and smiled. Johnny Damon might look like Christ, but all 25 members of the 2004 team are Boston deities now.

    Nothing gave me greater joy than watching last night's game with my dad. Some time in 1985 or 1986, my dad and my brother found a 1918 Red Sox World Series Championship pennant in my grandfather's attic -- in mint condition. The pennant has been a family treasure; everyone who found out about it told my dad to get it framed. My dad always had the same response "I'm waiting for the new one so we can frame them both together." Today, he finally gets his wish. I can't wait to go buy him his new pennant.
    -- Katie D, Boston


    I can finally stop watching the '78 playoff game and Game 6 on ESPN Classic and hoping that by some inexplicable miracle, the Sox win those games.
    -- Ryan F. Sarasota, Fla.


    Believe. What is believe?

    Is "believe" going to the Boston bar transplated in San Francisco an hour and a half before every game of the last three weeks to be first in line when it opens? Is it ruining new markers trying to make a Citgo sign when you have no artistic talent? Is "believe" making cookies/cupcakes/rice crispy treats every day for strangers and friends who are there to watch, just because they wear Sox gear? Is "believe" leading an entire bar in a sing-along of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" at the seventh-inning stretch? Is "believe" the feeling in my gut that I was going to get sick before every game, as if I was Bellhorn at bat while the masses chant "Pokey! Pokey!"?

    I don't know.

    Is "believe" when your father walks you through Brookline at six years old toward Fenway where there is a monster (!), quizzing you about which number Dewey is or what position Oil Can Boyd plays? Is "believe" when you stop dating a guy because he is a Yanks fan? Is "believe" when you watch a different TV, wear the same shirt, or repeat actions based on what worked (or didn't) in the past? Is "believe" sitting around after dinner with family talking about Jimmie Foxx, Bucky Dent, Jim Rice or Grady Little? Is "believe" bawling when Robin Williams narrates, "I had to see about a girl" in "Good Will Hunting"? Is "believe" secretly wishing that the "Curse" still existed just to have something to connect with your father about?

    I don't know.

    I don't know any of these today. I barely know my name today. What I know is that the Red Sox are the World Champions and I lived to see it. What I know is that I love the Red Sox, and I would have loved them whether they won this or lost this.

    What I BELIEVE, however, is that this group of idiots helped me this season come to believe in myself, just as much as they helped me believe in them. And that has been worth all the sleepless nights, workless days, champagne stuck hair, and tear-stained cheeks ... for both of us.
    -- Arryn Waterman, San Francisco


    Welcome to the rest of your life.
    -- Andrew C., Topeka, Kan.


    Jimmy Fallon
    Something tells us that "straight to DVD" might describe Jimmy's career in a couple years.
    SOMEBODY STOP FALLON!

    I feel like the woman in "Jaws" watching the shark patrol a dinner-filled water unable to find the words to scream. As the entire Red Sox Nation was celebrating with tears of joy and thoughts of our fathers and grandfathers, there was Jimmy Fallon running around the field with Drew Barrymore mere seconds after the last out, whooping it up like they personally dismatled the Evil Empire and beyond. WORSE, they were on the field filming the new ending of their movie. They should be ashamed of themselves. And every single person in the chain of command who gave them permission to do so should write a letter of apology in blood to every Red Sox fan on the planet.

    No, even that wouldn't be enough. They spoiled the one moment I never thought I would live to see by taking a big steamer in the church of The We Finally Won Moment. I will never complain about Ben Affleck again. What Jimmy Fallon did is worse. And unforgivable. I will not see this movie. I will not ever support a single project that he is involved with. I cannot find the words to do justice for what he has done to disrespect our cherished moment. Please support me in hoping this movie, and his career, are flushed down the toilet much like what he's done to our Moment.
    -- Peter McCarty, Chicago


    I woke up this morning and it was raining frogs in Los Angeles. On Wednesday night, a friend asked what it felt like after all these years. I was having trouble reacting ... just sitting on the floor and rocking back and forth like Terry Francona with my face in my hands covering tears of joy.

    The best I could come up with was this: Every year of my life, I woke up Christmas morning and all the toys had been stolen ... This year, I woke up and all the toys were there, and the Yankees were home crying.

    If I had a tail, I'd wag it.
    -- Derek Freda, Los Angeles


    As a Cub fan since I was nine, I'm really happy for you. I rooted for the Sox just like I did for the New York Rangers 10 years ago. I know exactly what you go through and I HAVE to root for the suffering to end. There's no way I could take some form of pleasure or solace in other people going through all these years of suffering.

    Just one thing that I ask. Please remember to think about me. And us other die-hard Cub fans. I have to admit that while I'm happy for you (and I truly am), I couldn't help but feel a little bitter. I went to bed that night with the same "status" while you guys got to celebrate. You'll never reach a higher moment in your sports life. Me, I can only continue to dream. And our lives as Cub fans just get worse as our favorite analyst resigned today (Steve Stone).

    It's like I'm the ugly thirtysomething-year-old bridesmaid who just saw her youngest sister get married at the age of 21. So please, don't take this for granted. And remember that there are still so many with that "guillotine" still hanging over us.
    -- Peter Kanipe, Asheville, N.C.


    I read that the Sox voted Nomar a full playoff share. Is that to thank him for his years in Boston, or for leaving? I keep thinking of the scene in "Goodfellas" where Cicero gives Henry Hill $3,100 (after the drug deals are going bad) and tells him he'll have to turn his back on him now. Hey, Nomar, here's your playoff share ... now we have to turn our backs on you. Maybe the Cubs will trade him to the White Sox mid-year in an effort to win the WS too?
    -- Mark Sedam, Chapel Hill, N.C.


    Last night, I wandered around my neighborhood high-fiving strangers, watching cars drive by with horns blaring and listening to the strains of "Dirty Water" and "Tessie" floating out of the bars. It was the kind of euphoria you can't even totally enjoy because you're not sure if any of it is really happening. I wandered around until 2 a.m. trying to take it all in, but then the Responsible Adult Reflex reminded that I had to show my face at work in the morning even if no "work" was really going to get done.

    Four hours later, my alarm went off, and it was as if someone had momentarily erased my memory "Men in Black"-style. I sat bolt upright. Something big happened last night. What was it? Oh my God- -- when did I go to bed? Was the game even over? Did they blow a three-run lead in the bottom of the ninth?

    Then it all came rushing back to me and I staggered to the shower exhausted and elated.

    Bill, how long will it be before we sleep the sound sleep of champions? Even buying the Globe this morning I couldn't really believe the headlines. Do you think someday we'll have that well-rested arrogant lifestyle that Yankees fans have enjoyed for so long?
    -- A. Hoffman, South Boston


    So, I guess the lesson we all learned this season is that any time you can trade a future Hall of Famer for two guys hitting .240, it IS a good trade.
    -- Joe Holland, Arlington, Texas

    Red Sox
    Anyone have a problem with Yankee fans seeing this clip every fall? Good, didn't think so.


    From the bottom of the cold, dark heart of this Yankee fan, I congratulate you and the rest of Red Sox Nation. The best team just won the World Series, and there is no way to deny that. Eight consecutive wins against the Yanks and a 105-win team is nothing short of remarkable. Even the staunchest Yankee fan can't spin those facts.

    Just want to share a quick post-game story. As soon as the last out was made, my cell phone rang, and it was my college roommate Pete, a die-hard Sox fan. I could immediately hear the joy in his voice. Finally, this was his chance to gloat, but he couldn't. I could tell that he was just too emotional. I finally understood how much this moment meant to Sox fans. The moment was too precious to waste on a Yankee fan. This was a time to savor, a time for tears of joy, a time to enjoy with other souls who are tortured no more. I truly was happy for him. I congratulated him, and told him to stay safe as I figure the over/under on Boston area fatalities tonight is about 17 ½.

    Pete will have plenty of time to gloat, and I'm looking forward to it. Now, we have a rivalry. No longer is this one-sided. It is no longer Mystique and Aura vs. the Curse. From now on it is Yankees vs. Red Sox, and let the best team win.
    -- Joe Gorla, Collegeville, Pa.


    For Cubs fans, you know what this feels like? I just figured it out a moment ago. It's like having this friend who suffered with you through thick and thin, sharing in your deepest pain and your greatest hopes. Finally, one day, your friend finally gets what you've both been hoping for. And you're really, really happy for them, but you can't deny that you're also jealous. And you're a bit sad, and a bit scared, because you know that from now on, you're going at it alone.

    (Also, you have an annoying little brother with the same problem, but nobody gives a crap about him and neither do you.)
    -- Adam Rettberg, Chicago


    Except for my kid being born, this is the happiest day in my life. YO BILLY, WE DID IT!!
    -- Tony Padula, Boston


    I have my life back. Thank God.

    My roommates, who are immensely more popular than me, invited a bunch of people over last night to watch the game, two of whom were Yankees fans. While outside smoking a cigarette, one of them dared to call me a fair-weather fan. This is the same kid who claims that he loves the Yankees, but elected not to watch Game 6 of the World Series last year in favor of playing beer pong. When I pointed that out to him, he shut up rather quickly, and I went on having the best night of my life.

    I've gained 15 pounds since the playoffs started. My relationship is very rocky. I was fired from my job after I skipped my graveyard shift last Saturday night to catch Game 1 of The Show at the Fens. I haven't shaved since ... God, I can't even put a date on it.

    And I'd do it all again.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go order my subscription to Sports Illustrated to get the commemorative Red Sox package. I've been waiting my whole life to do that. -- Van Aylward, Somerville, Mass.


    Is this what Heroin feels like?
    -- Jim M., San Diego


    Congrats. Now shut the (expletive) up.
    -- Dan H., Washington, DC


    (P.S.: Thanks to everyone who took the time to write in.)

    Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. His Sports Guy's World site is updated every day Monday through Friday.