Today, the Boston Red Sox had their triumphal parade from Chestnut Hill to City Hall, then over to Charlestown — and into the river. (They were in the amphibious Duck Boats. They covered another mile or so on the water, cruising between two crowded shores, dodging the sailboats, sculls, and kayaks of their aquatic fans.) Over a million people lined the route to celebrate the first World Series win in 86 years. The players were astonished at the turnout, which was two or three times larger than the crowd that greeted the Patriots after their Super Bowl victory.
Baseball is New England’s sport. This is where baseball evolved. When I was a boy growing up in Connecticut, we sometimes could not raise a quorum for a decent game of baseball, even with “ghost runners,” and instead played a game called “One-a-Cat” (or “One Old Cat”). This was a game played with only two bases. The batter hit the ball and ran between the two bases, scoring with each base he reached, and stopping at either base to bat again. He could be put out if a fielder caught the batted ball on the fly, or if a fielder could hit him with the ball between the bases. Much later, some Indian and Pakistani colleagues introduced me to cricket, and the resemblance was amazing. Add a wicket and bail to one-a-cat, and you’re playing cricket. Put in a couple more bases, and you’re playing baseball (in primitive baseball, or “town ball,” the runner could be put out if hit by a thrown ball).
The Red Sox are now a regular baseball team, not some cheesy tragedy. They won for the same reasons the Patriots won – competence at every position, bench strength, and consistent execution. If they lose, it will be for lacking one of those elements. There will be no superstitious nonsense about curses, no talk about malign fate. We can instead talk about starting the runner on 3-and-2, bunts, middle relief, shifts, and pitch selection. Baseball is baseball, not metaphysics. Let’s ignore the lunar eclipse during game 4, shall we?
OK, Cubs, White Sox – are you listening? Get going, pick up some of those free agents (including 2/3 of the Red Sox), work a little harder on the farm teams, and get the job done. The Cubs in next year’s Series? It could happen.