Shortly after Jonathan Papelbon threw his last strike last night, I was startled by a series of loud noises. I rushed to my front porch to see bright fire works going off over Metropolitan Hill in Roslindale. Boston basked in the elation of the Red Sox’s second world championship in four years.
Now, three years removed from the first victory of the Red Sox in 86 years and five from the first Patriots Super Bowl championship ever, I’ve rethought that concept that became so intertwined with Red Sox Nation; that is, the notion of “The Curse of The Babe.”
In taking the very long view of Red Sox history, I’ve come to the conclusion that there was no curse at all.
It is true that the team lost the best years of productivity of Ted Williams, who gave up the best time of his professional life to serve his country. If not for the years he devoted to military service, the stacked Red Sox team of the 1940s would likely have won a World Series.
After that, the culprit has to be bad management. During the 1950s and much of the 1960s, the team was shamefully slow to seek out and play African American players. During the 1970s, the ownership bungled away a club that lives in my imagination as one of the best ever, Rice, Lynn, Fisk, Evans, Yaz. But not enough pitching.
More recently, the Yawkey ownership just didn’t have the chops or the smarts to build a modern club.
That changed with the current ownership group. And while they’ll be sure to make mistakes, at least they’re doing everything they can to operate at the top echelons of their game.
The competition with the uber-intense and professional Patriots organization will only drive the Sox to further heights. One reason Danny Ainge tried so hard to get Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen for The Boston Celtics is to remain relevant in a town whose sports teams are top notch.
No, it wasn’t a curse. And it isn’t a blessing today. It’s innovative leadership and sound management.