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This is what makes us the finest in the nation

Posted by Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff  October 22, 2013 11:36 AM

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This will be my sonís first World Series.

Well, technically, thatís not true. He was all of 14 days old when the Red Sox swept the Colorado Rockies, and heís been around since the Phillies, Yankees, Giants and Cardinals have all won since.

But this will be his first World Series all the same.

I was all but a year old when the Red Sox faced the Reds in the 1975 World Series, only four when Bucky Dent became an expletive-laden household name throughout New England. My Red Sox postseason baptism didnít come until 1986, the year I cried at the foot of my bed at the end of Game 7, with my mother rubbing my head, and asking aloud why she had introduced me to such heartache.

Itís all a bit different now, no?

One hundred and ten years after the Boston Americans won the first World Series, the Red Sox have a chance to win the eighth title in franchise history when they face off against the St. Louis Cardinals beginning Wednesday night. Thatís something that seemed an impossible feat just nine years ago.

Yes, we may put the 86 years bit into over dramatics, but when you figure in í67, í75, í78, í86, í88, the Ninja Turtle Guy, í95, í98, í99, and í03 into the equation, isnít it a bit justified to have some heartbreak?

I mean, weíre not exactly the Seattle Mariners when it comes to this, but we also give a damn more.

We grew up knowing that the Sox would lose. We were raised upon expectations of hopelessness, frustration, and agony. One of my best friends signed my high school yearbook, ďGo, Sox. Theyíll never win.Ē

That was normalcy. If youíre not from New England, itís a mindset you really canít gather. Thereís a rightful pride that runs deep here, but it comes with an inferiority complex that speaks to the level of the seasons. It has its ups. It has its downs.

And the Red Sox losing simply signified the end of summer, and a long, cold winter ahead.

No more. If 2004 morphed us into jaded, bandwagon pink beards, so be it. Thereís something to be said about introducing our youth into something that we donít assume wonít end in despair. Itís not really a matter of hopelessness, but there used to be a certain air of being a Red Sox fan. You knew what was around the corner, and it usually was.

ďWhy did I do this?Ē my Mom asked as I wept and the Mets paraded around Shea Stadium, wondering why she insisted on introducing me to such anguish.

She did it because thatís what we do here. Look, we all know the Patriots are kings of the sports landscape, and the Bruins arenít far behind, but baseball is our fabric. It is the game that ties generations of New Englanders like no other place in the country. But it also delivers something completely different from what our ancestors wrought. We have all had grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles, aunts all dying and convinced the Red Sox would never win the World Series again.

Today? Sox in six doesnít sound so outlandish.

Sorry, Miss Hastings, but youíre going to have one tired kindergartner on your hands for the next week or so. If the past six years have taught us anything, itís that these moments arenít to be cherished lightly. The postseason isnít a birthright, and the World Series, by any means, isnít an annual occurrence. Even if youíre a Yankees fan.

My second son was born in 2010, just in time to watch the Celtics fall to the Lakers. A year later, I watched him crawl on the floor as the Bruins raised the Stanley Cup. My daughter is eight months old and doesnít have a championship to her name yet.

The shame.

Sheíll get there. Right now itís about introducing my oldest to what it means to be a Red Sox fan in October. Six years old, and a possible two World Series under his belt. Must be nice.

Yes, the game times suck, but let your kids stay up late. Apologize to teachers across the land.

They will remember this forever.

For better or worse.

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About the Author

Eric Wilbur is a Boston.com sports columnist who is still in awe of what Dana Kiecker pulled off that one time in Toronto. He lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children. Comments and suggestions for the best Buffalo wing spots are encouraged.

Contact Eric Wilbur by e-mail or follow him on Twitter.


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