I grew up in a time when Red Sox playoff wins were rarer than three-legged rainbows and talking apes. Where every season began with the expectation that if the Sox did advance to October, their participation would be short-lived. At a tender age my heart was crushed to powder by the 1986 World Series, and notable failures in 1999 and, God help us, 2003 didn’t make life as a Sox fan any easier.
But 2004 changed the game. Finally, we got what we’d been praying so long and hard for. And it felt every bit as glorious as we dreamed it would.
Fact is, that World Series title alone would have satisfied me, but the embarrassment of riches that followed in 2007, 2013 and 2018 just confirmed that we were through the looking glass, living in a strange new world where the Red Sox making the postseason didn’t necessarily have to end with your balls getting slammed in a car door. Come September, Red Sox Nation used to look toward inevitable heartbreak. Now we believe that we’re not out of it until we’re out of it. It’s a sea change in attitude that, quite frankly, I still have a hard time getting used to. I still wake up sometimes and ask, “Is this real?”
Now we are here again, watching the Red Sox take another giant step closer to baseball’s biggest stage, with an ALCS date with either the Astros or White Sox on tap. I’m not sure what younger me would have thought of a world in which the Yankees are perennial bridesmaids with the Red Sox owning their asses in post-2003 playoff meetings. But that’s where we are now.
All I know for sure is Alex Cora is back. The good times are back. The fun is back. The synergy is back. And this team looks like they just have fun playing the game together. It’s a sort of looseness eerily reminiscent of 2004’s and 2013’s squads.
I look forward to seeing how far this ride takes us this time. And I will never, ever take it for granted.