How else could I begin? Two days after the Sox second WS sweep in four years and I'm still feeling a bit euphoric, a bit sleep derived, and, yes, still a bit high!
My first thoughts on this fantastic season relate to how different it is from 2004.
In 2004, the Sox were a group of veterans, some more seasoned than others.
In 2007, they were few favorites, a few imports, and those awesome rookies!
In 2004, we had a Sox team that skidded into the post-season on the wild card pony.
In 2007, we had a Sox team that took the division lead in April and never let go.
In 2004, it was another year chasing the Yankees, culminating the ALCS 4-game comeback.
In 2007, aside from a bad series or two in the regular season (that mattered not) the Yankees only ever seen in our rear-view mirrors.
In 2004, we lost what most people thought was out biggest impact player in July (Nomar).
In 2007, we called up out biggest impact player in September (Jacoby).
In 2004, a three game deficit to in the ALCS terrified RSN.
In 2007, the 3-1 deficit in the ALCS barely registered.
But how about the similarities? There were many.
In 2004, we had Papi and Manny hitting jacks.
In 2007, ditto.
In 2004, we had clutch pitching performances.
In 2007, ditto.
In 2004, the ALCS was the real series, the winner almost certain (although we didn't know) to roll.
In 2007, (sadly for the Rockies) ditto.
I don't know if we'll ever have another season like this one. A lead over the Yankees that lasted virtually the whole season. Clay Buchholz's no-hitter. Schilling's almost no-hitter. Jacoby's arrival, thanks to Manny's oblique. The rise of Pedroia the Destroyah! Dice-K! Okajima! The Jon Lester comeback story. Waiting patiently for J.D. to open up (still waiting, although his ending showed promise.) The Mother's Day Miracle, Back-to-back-to-back-to-back against the Yankers. Walk-offs from some of the guys, most notably Manny's in the ALDS. A lock for the Cy Young in Beckett! A lock for the Rookie of the year for Pedroia! The World Series MVP Mike Lowell!
Now, looking back, how huge was getting the home field advantage for the ALCS? While it didn't seem to mater in the divisional series, and it surely didn't matter in the World Series, wasn't the biggest part of the reason why no one freaked when they were down 3-1 to the Tribe the fact that we had Becket for Game 5, then a trip home to the Fens?
It was a year rife with special moments around the whole league. Jim Thome, Frank Thomas, and Alex Rodriquez all made the 500 club. There was the one game playoff between the Padre's and Rockies. Tom Glavine got his 300th win and Roger "Way Past His Prime" Clemens got his 350th while managing to prove how unworthy he was of all the special treatment the Yankers afforded him. Mark Buerhle and Justin Verlander had no hitters. Trevor Hoffman got his 500th save. And on a sad note, reputed steroid whore Barry Bonds broke the sacred career home run record held by Hank Aaron, dooming yet another record to the dreaded asterisk, at least until A-Rod catches up.
Not all was good. We still had home field advantage in the World Series determined by what used to be a fun exhibition contest: The All-Star Game. There was Paul Byrd who took flight in the first round of the playoffs, only to have his wings clipped when his large HGH receipts came to light. There was the nonsense with Milton Bradley sustaining and injury while arguing with an umpire. The injury ended his season with the Padre's who ended up needing him in that one game playoff (which they lost by one run, by the way.) There was A-Rod with the stripper, Prince Fielder's paternal angst, and all the ridiculous hype Bud Selig caused by his refusal to commit one way or the other to being in attendance for Bond's 756th.
But hey! You take the good with the bad. MLB didn't have a scandal like the NBA had with an official on the take. There was no MLB player up on federal charges for dog fighting, or any other federal charges, for that matter. Also, people watched baseball games this year, so that sets it apart from Major League Soccer, the WNBA, and (gulp) the NHL!
As we move into the "Hot Stove League" part of the year, many questions come to play. Where will A-Rod play in '08? Where will Mike Lowell play? How about the other number of free agents? What city's media will Barry Bonds scorn and pout for next summer? Will Bud Selig drink an espresso or two so he appears conscious? Will Tim McCarver be replaced by Fox for next years post-season? (If you have a rudimentary grasp on the game and can form sentences, you're a step ahead of old Timmy. If you can ad lib, you're a lock.) Will Joba Chamberlain enter rehab to get that Krispy-Kreme monkey off his back? Will Jason Giambi finally address his overactive sweat gland issue?
Baseball Fever! Catch it!