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Curse talk has cowboys cringing

NEW YORK -- Sometime soon -- maybe even tomorrow -- we'll have some perspective. Maybe in a little while, Red Sox fans can reflect on a fabulous season that ended five outs shy of a World Series berth. Maybe we can talk about the electric chemistry that brought this team together, or the resilient bullpen that, when it was all said and done, emerged as a major postseason strength.

It will be fun -- perhaps -- to reminisce about the fun-loving antics of a clubhouse full of cowboys who bashed their way into the playoffs with one of the most spectacular hitting seasons in recent history.

The players would like you to get there now. The players would like you to understand they can already chalk up the 2003 Red Sox season as a major positive, something to build on, even after absorbing a shocking 6-5 loss in Game 7 to the Yankees last night.

But they've been around long enough to know what the city of Boston will dwell on this morning.

The Curse. The bloody, awful, nagging Curse.

"Of course," said second baseman Todd Walker. "But what people have to realize is that in the end, only one team can win. I'm sure they'll be saying it about the Cubs, too -- all the curse stuff.

"But it doesn't diminish what we did all season long."

Red Sox first baseman Kevin Millar was waxing poetically about the feel-good vibes that dominated this baseball team when he, too, was asked to address the Curse.

"You're not asking very good questions right now," he barked at the reporter. "You just saw a home run in the 11th inning to end a great baseball game. There's no such thing as a curse. You saw a great baseball game. You saw two teams battle their tails off. This was a great season for us. We just didn't win the game."

Boston center fielder Johnny Damon, whose candor has been his trademark throughout the year, conceded that he was experiencing what most of his teammates were also undoubtedly feeling: the beginning of a very long, very painful hangover.

"I think we'll always have this game in the back of our minds for the rest of our lives," Damon acknowledged. "It might be the closest we'll ever get to the World Series, without actually getting there.

"We wanted to erase a curse, but it seems like the Curse is going to be with us another year."

After his team beat Oakland and advanced to the ALCS, Grady Little had his locks snipped. After his team beat Oakland and advanced to the ALCS, Grady Little had his locks snipped. (Globe Staff Photo / Stan Grossfeld)
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