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A happy ending, but Act Two to come ...

Taking the pulse of Red Sox Nation after the final home game

And so the curtain closes on Act One, Scene One, and it’s a happy ending. The Red Sox closed out the home season with: A) a huge lead for the wild card (six games), B) a 55-26 home record, C) An 11-4 thumping of the Yankees, and two out of three over the serfs of Steinbrenner for the weekend. (Season series, Boston 11-NY 8.)

Could the 2004 regular season at Fenway have been any better? Well, it depends on who you ask. Not for lifelong fan Chris Bernier. As five Red Sox base hits, three of them doubles, put the Sox up 3-0 in the first, chasing Kevin “At Least I Didn’t Punch The Wall with My PITCHING Hand” Brown, Bernier beamed “It’s been more exciting than any season I’ve ever seen. Better than last year, for sure.”

Bob “Jake” Jankowski, of Syracuse, NY, has taken the heat from his Empire State friends and rooted for Boston for decades. “Last year and this year have been the best. It just never stopped in the offseason. Just kept rolling and rolling. And they definitely met expectations.” And Kerri Beaudreault, bouncing her 8-month-old baby Morgan (who has already been to three games) in her arms, said “This year has been great. They’re more together as a team, the personalities. They all seem to be thoroughly excited to be together, so it makes you more excited to root for them.”

Fenway usher Bob Sances says “After ’99, with the All-Star Game and Ted Williams on the field, this year has been the best. Every single game was a sellout (a first for Fenway). That makes it more exciting. The mood was fantastic this year.”

Ah, but doff those rose-colored glasses, ye realists, and listen to the likes of Jonathan Froio. “I’m hard core. A die-hard fan. But all season I felt this team didn’t live up to expectations. Sure if you look at the numbers they’re better than last year. But they should have blown this division away. They didn’t have the spark this year that they had last year.”

Or Tony Venuti: “I can’t say it was a great season. We went in expecting the best with all the offseason acquisitions, and we don’t beat Baltimore, or other games we should win. They do it every year.”

Or John Sandersky Sr: “This team is talent-wise better than last year. But they’re streakier. A few guys go good, everybody does. A few guys go bad, everybody does. It’s been more of a roller coaster this year.”

Outside the park there is no debate. The 2004 Sox home season was a winner. At the Cask and Flagon across the street from Fenway Park, the beer flows in direct proportion to the amount of hope beating in the hearts of Red Sox Nation. “This season was definitely better than usual,” says manager Dan Quintino. “It was the expectations that got it going right from the beginning. Schilling coming in, unfinished business (yeah, since 1918!) ... there was more excitement in the air from the start and it just kept going. And then all the fair weather fans jumped back on the bandwagon in September.”   Continued...

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The new Fenway field is protected from the winter elements.
The new Fenway field is protected from the winter elements. ( Photo / David Roepik)
More from David Ropeik
Fenway insider homepage correspondent David Roepik lifts the curtain and sheds light on the inner-workings of one of baseball’s oldest ballparks.
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