The Red Sox announced that they will honor the 2004 World Series Championship team prior to the game on September 25. All uniformed personnel associated with that team will be invited to attend the festivities prior to the game in what will be one of the final celebrations in honor of Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary. This ceremony will be followed by an all-Fenway team that will be unveiled the following day on the final 2012 home game for the Red Sox, concluding the year-long birthday bash of the Fens.
The ’04 team being honored will no doubt be a ceremony for the ages and will bring back many pleasant memories from that historic season. The question of “where were you when?” will be littered throughout the stands, streets of Boston and every pub and restaurant along Boylston street for that monumental afternoon. And for Red Sox fans, that afternoon of celebration and reminiscing will bring a sense of renewed optimism that if it happened back then, maybe it can happen again. Internal optimism will reign supreme as stories will be re-told as if they happened just yesterday.
But those joyous stories and fond memories will eventually turn to feelings of disdain and sorrow. When the ceremony is over and the game begins, Sox fans will be reminded in a cruel fashion that there will again be no October baseball this year. Seeing those heroes from ’04 will also drive a stake through Red Sox fans hearts’ when they are forced to face the cold hard truth that the team in front of them is a long way from bringing home another championship.
The 2012 season is lost. It’s been a roller coaster of a year with more downward turns towards the ground then ups and fun filled nights. Next year, wait until next year we keep telling ourselves. And as we sit and watch the ’04 players and management file out to receive their well deserved standing ovation, we are reminded that it’s those types of players and characters that’s missing from the current Red Sox roster. Gone are the self proclaimed idiots and the “cowboy up” mentality of those rugged, hard nosed players that got the job done for the team on the front of the uniform and not the number or name on the back. Gone is that brotherhood that if you punch Millar, Ortiz would bleed. One could argue that gone is the desire to win from the owners given their diverse investments that have them scattered across multiple continents. Many things are gone when you compare the 2004 winners to this 2012 group of sad, underachievers and all we can do is hope and pray for next season that still has the opportunity to bring back those tense autumn nights when it’s win or go home.
The roster has already been gutted and further moves are expected. Ben Cherington is eager to escape the shadow of Theo Epstein and after they honor the ’04 team and the season is over, Ben will then have the opportunity to put his stamp on this club. He has already pulled out the ink pad, now he just has to wet the stamp and start hammering it down with his face, his touch on the team.
If the past has taught us anything it’s that history can and will repeat itself. Meaning if Theo Epstein and company can assemble a team that can defy the odds and make history by bringing home not one, but two World Series titles in four years, then why can’t Ben and his posse do the same? Granted some tinkering needs to be done in the fashion of a combined reload and rebuild, this team should be able to add the necessary pieces it takes to contend.
So when that glorious ceremony concludes and we are forced to watch the Tampa Bay Rays fight for their postseason lives against a banged up and sub par Red Sox roster, keep one thing in mind; it happened in 2004 so keep the faith that maybe it can happen in 2013. Keep that passion and hope alive that next year this Red Sox team will be better and compete for a spot in the October dance. Next year, wait til next year we continue to tell ourselves. Only this time we need to believe it just like we did eight years ago.