Well, Red Sox Nation has been biting its collective fingernails for over a month now. The huge lead the Sox held over the Yankees (14.5 games) had dwindled down to 1.5 and stood at only 2.0 before the beginning of last night’s game. It was beginning to look like a typical Red Sox end-of-season implosion. Something that Red Sox fans have almost come to expect from their team. But, as a result of the Sox beating Minnesota and Baltimore’s terrific come from behind victory in extra innings against the Yankees, the season is wrapped up (there are still 2 games to go, but the results won’t change anything) with the Sox dethroning the Yankees from their perennial position as AL East victors. The Yankees had won the AL East crown for 9 straight years with the Sox sucking the exhaust from New York’s tailpipe.
The Red Sox clinched a playoff berth last week (their record was good enough to assure at least winning the wild card), which was great, but any self-respecting member of The Nation knows that beating the Yankees is almost as important as making the playoffs. In fact, emotionally, it’s even more important. So, there was a bigger celebration last night than last week when the playoffs became a guarantee.
Last night, while sitting at Fenway with my son who, at 17, has none of the angst about the Sox that I have – he’ll learn – I could feel the tension in the stands. 34 thousand people wanting to believe that their team was going to win the division or collapse like it had after holding a lead so many times before. The thousands of prayers to the baseball gods must’ve done the trick.
It’s been a good season for the Sox, having been the best team in baseball for virtually the entire season. It looks like they will end the season with at least a tie for the best record in all of baseball. Pretty cool. So for now, Red Sox nation takes a breath in sweet anticipation of a successful post season. Of course, the break is a short one. Next week all of the nervousness, questioning of management decisions and prayers will begin anew as Red Sox Nation cheers their team on to the World Series.