King Kaufman’s Sports Daily

Boston wins the World Series! Throw out the sackcloth and ashes. Red Sox fandom will never be the same.


King Kaufman's Sports Daily

At long last the sports fans of Boston have a championship to celebrate. Finally, finally, finally. They poured out of the bars and into the streets Wednesday night and let loose. They pumped fists, screamed, hugged, howled at the eclipsed moon, and who can blame them? Yes, sir, it’s been a while since they’ve been able to celebrate like this.

Almost nine months.

The Red Sox shut out the Cardinals 3-0 in St. Louis Wednesday, completing a stunning four-game World Series sweep of a team that won 105 games during the regular season. It was the first major sports championship for Boston since the Patriots won the Super Bowl in February.

And, by the way, it’s the first World Series title for the Red Sox since 1918.

Being a Red Sox fan will never be the same, at least not while anyone old enough to read these words still breathes. Lifetimes worth of losing, of frustration and heartache, of almosts and never-weres, are washed away. “Pesky holds the ball!” and “Behind the bag!” may not be forgotten, but they’ve been tamed.

Every team kicks away a golden chance at a championship now and then. Even these Cardinals, with all their championships and their happy, well-adjusted fans, had 3-1 leads in the 1968 and 1985 Series and lost them both. These things happen all over and become part of the rich tapestry of a team’s history.

In Boston, they’ve come to define the very soul of fandom.

Chicago’s teams have gone longer without a title. The White Sox last went to the World Series in 1959 and last won it in 1917. The Cubs last played in the Fall Classic in 1945 and haven’t won since 1908. But somehow it’s different in Chicago. The White Sox and Cubs are mere losers, only hapless. The Red Sox are tragic.

To be a Red Sox fan is to carry a burden, to know, absolutely know, that no matter how bright the dawn, tomorrow will bring a new darkness. To root for the Red Sox is to know that success is fleeting, and worse, any success just makes the inevitable defeat all the more painful.

Until now. Now it’s all changed. This time the Sox blew a big lead in Game 1 of the Series, then got the lead back, blew that, and still won. Two well-pitched games later Sox fans found themselves with a 3-0 lead, staring at needing one win in four games.

And they scarcely knew what to do about it other than worry that if there was anything worse than blowing a 3-0 lead in a seven-game series, it had to be blowing a 3-0 lead in a seven-game series the week after you’d become the first team ever to overcome a 3-0 deficit in a seven-game series. And guess who had a chance to pull that one off.

Not this time. Johnny Damon pulled a Jason Marquis pitch into the right-field bullpen to lead off the game, and that was all the Red Sox needed. They added two more in the third on a Trot Nixon double. Derek Lowe, shaky all year but terrific in October, threw seven shutout innings. The Cards went quietly. Three relievers and two innings later Edgar Renteria earned the odd distinction of being the last batter in two different World Series. He’d won the ’97 Series as a Marlin with a base hit.

This time he bounced one back to the mound and was thrown out by Keith Foulke. The Sox leaped on each other. Twelve hundred miles away the fans roared into the streets, changed forever. The Red Sox had finally done it, had finally buried the ghosts of 1918 and Babe Ruth and all those years. “We forgive Bill Buckner,” read a sign in the Busch Stadium stands. The Red Sox were champions at last.

In other words, they’re just another team now. The sackcloth and ashes are so 2003.

There’s something beautiful, almost holy, about rooting for a team that, for all the close calls, hasn’t won in so long. Any Red Sox fan will tell you that what they’ve wanted for as long as they can remember was a championship, that they’d give up anything to get one, anything.

And now that they have one, they’re just going to want another.

One day soon this orgy of relief and joy, these tears shed for relatives who lived and died without seeing this moment, it’s all going to seem a little silly.

The Red Sox have a huge, heavily populated home region and a cash register of a stadium, and they outspend everyone but the Yankees. If the Red Sox continue to shrewdly parlay their financial advantages into talent-rich rosters — exactly what the Sox did this year and exactly what they complain about the Yankees doing — they have a chance to win quite a bit more in the coming years. Don’t be surprised if a decade or so from now the Red Sox are looked upon as Evil Empire II, the Yankees North.

Remember that the World Series MVP, Manny Ramirez, would have been a Texas Ranger this year if the Red Sox had been successful in their attempt to trade for Alex Rodriguez, baseball’s highest-paid player.

And don’t forget that less than a decade ago, the Yankees — who outmaneuvered the Sox by getting Rodriguez — were a hustling, likable bunch riding a wave of camaraderie to their first championship in 18 years. Eighteen years without a championship is 86 in Yankee years.

Things are already changing. “I really hope the Sox lose,” read an e-mail that arrived after Game 3 from a “lifelong Sox fan” who lamented the new breed of Red Sox rooter who hasn’t endured years of losing and doesn’t know who Mookie Wilson and Bucky Dent are. Lines are being drawn even as we speak, boundaries between true fans and bandwagon jumpers, the latter defined as anyone who became a Sox fan after the person speaking did. “You don’t remember Yaz? Newbie.”

There’s nothing quite like winning, but if you really have a flair for it — and they did in Boston these last 86 years — losing has its charms too.

Which brings us to the Cardinals, a 105-win juggernaut that steamed into this World Series, fell on its side, wheezed and expired. This team that could beat you so many ways, with power, with small ball, with pitching and defense, never looked like it had a chance after that Game 1 rally fell short. The pitchers got rocked, the hitters were quiet.

The Cards are the first team to win 105 games and lose the World Series since the 1969 Baltimore Orioles, who won 109 before losing to the Miracle Mets in five games. The 1998 Braves, with 106 wins, and the 2001 Mariners, with 116, lost in the League Championship Series. The other five teams that have won 105 since the schedule expanded to 162 games have all won the World Series.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa has now taken three teams that won at least 103 games to the World Series and lost with all of them, winning one game in the process, in 1988 with the 104-win A’s against the Dodgers. Two years later the A’s won 103 and got swept by the Reds. In between La Russa won his only championship, leading Oakland to a sweep over the Giants after winning 99 in the regular season.

Maybe it’s something La Russa’s doing or not doing in the postseason, or maybe it’s just bad luck or the statistically insignificant number of games involved. But with La Russa closing in on a decade in St. Louis, the Cardinals haven’t won the World Series in 22 years and counting.

Twenty-two years isn’t a lifetime or anything. But it’s a start.

Previous column: Sox and Fox

- – - – - – - – - – - -

  • Bookmark to get the new Kaufman column every day.
  • Discuss this column and the sports news of the day in Table Talk.
  • Send an e-mail to King Kaufman.
  • To receive the Sports Daily Newsletter, send an e-mail to

  • More Related Stories

    Featured Slide Shows

    • Share on Twitter
    • Share on Facebook
    • 1 of 22
    • Close
    • Fullscreen
    • Thumbnails

      Once upon a time on the Bowery

      Talking Heads, 1977
      This was their first weekend as a foursome at CBGB’s, after adding Jerry Harrison, before they started recording the LP “Talking Heads: 77.”

      Once upon a time on the Bowery

      Patti Smith, Bowery 1976
      Patti lit up by the Bowery streetlights. I tapped her on the shoulder, asked if I could do a picture, took two shots and everyone went back to what they were doing. 1/4 second at f/5.6 no tripod.

      Once upon a time on the Bowery

      Blondie, 1977
      This was taken at the Punk Magazine Benefit show. According to Chris Stein (seated, on slide guitar), they were playing “Little Red Rooster.”

      Once upon a time on the Bowery

      No Wave Punks, Bowery Summer 1978
      They were sitting just like this when I walked out of CBGB's. Me: “Don’t move” They didn’t. L to R: Harold Paris, Kristian Hoffman, Diego Cortez, Anya Phillips, Lydia Lunch, James Chance, Jim Sclavunos, Bradley Field, Liz Seidman.

      Once upon a time on the Bowery

      Richard Hell + Bob Quine, 1978
      Richard Hell and the Voidoids, playing CBGB's in 1978, with Richard’s peerless guitar player Robert Quine. Sorely missed, Quine died in 2004.

      Once upon a time on the Bowery

      Bathroom, 1977
      This photograph of mine was used to create the “replica” CBGB's bathroom in the Punk Couture show last summer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So I got into the Met with a bathroom photo.

      Once upon a time on the Bowery

      Stiv Bators + Divine, 1978
      Stiv Bators, Divine and the Dead Boys at the Blitz Benefit show for injured Dead Boys drummer Johnny Blitz.

      Once upon a time on the Bowery

      Ramones, 1977
      “The kids are all hopped up and ready to go…” View from the unique "side stage" at CBGB's that you had to walk past to get to the basement bathrooms.

      Once upon a time on the Bowery

      Klaus Nomi, Christopher Parker, Jim Jarmusch – Bowery 1978
      Jarmusch was still in film school, Parker was starring in Jim’s first film "Permanent Vacation" and Klaus just appeared out of nowhere.

      Once upon a time on the Bowery

      Hilly Kristal, Bowery 1977
      When I used to show people this picture of owner Hilly Kristal, they would ask me “Why did you photograph that guy? He’s not a punk!” Now they know why. None of these pictures would have existed without Hilly Kristal.

      Once upon a time on the Bowery

      Dictators, Bowery 1976
      Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators with his girlfriend Jody. I took this shot as a thank you for him returning the wallet I’d lost the night before at CBGB's. He doesn’t like that I tell people he returned it with everything in it.

      Once upon a time on the Bowery

      Alex Chilton, Bowery 1977
      We were on the median strip on the Bowery shooting what became a 45 single sleeve for Alex’s “Bangkok.” A drop of rain landed on the camera lens by accident. Definitely a lucky night!

      Once upon a time on the Bowery

      Bowery view, 1977
      The view from across the Bowery in the summer of 1977.

      Once upon a time on the Bowery

      Ramones, 1977 – never before printed
      I loved shooting The Ramones. They would play two sets a night, four nights a week at CBGB's, and I’d be there for all of them. This shot is notable for Johnny playing a Strat, rather than his usual Mosrite. Maybe he’d just broken a string. Love that hair.

      Once upon a time on the Bowery

      Richard Hell, Bowery 1977 – never before printed
      Richard exiting CBGB's with his guitar at 4am, about to step into a Bowery rainstorm. I’ve always printed the shots of him in the rain, but this one is a real standout to me now.

      Once upon a time on the Bowery

      Patti Smith + Ronnie Spector, 1979
      May 24th – Bob Dylan Birthday show – Patti “invited” everyone at that night’s Palladium show on 14th Street down to CBGB's to celebrate Bob Dylan’s birthday. Here, Patti and Ronnie are doing “Be My Baby.”

      Once upon a time on the Bowery

      Legs McNeil, 1977
      Legs, ready for his close-up, near the front door of CBGB's.

      Once upon a time on the Bowery

      Suicide, 1977
      Rev and Alan Vega – I thought Alan was going to hit me with that chain. This was the Punk Magazine Benefit show.

      Once upon a time on the Bowery

      Ian Hunter and Fans, outside bathroom
      I always think of “All the Young Dudes” when I look at this shot. These fans had caught Ian Hunter in the CBGB's basement outside the bathrooms, and I just stepped in to record the moment.

      Once upon a time on the Bowery

      Tommy Ramone, 1977
      Only at CBGB's could I have gotten this shot of Tommy Ramone seen through Johnny Ramones legs.

      Once upon a time on the Bowery

      Bowery 4am, 1977
      End of the night garbage run. Time to go home.

    • Recent Slide Shows



    Comment Preview

    Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

    You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>