Would the 2004 ALCS Matter if the Red Sox Lost the World Series?

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December 13, 2015 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

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For however much Red Sox fans like to bemoan the 2003 ALCS as the summation of all their miseries, that series goes largely forgotten by their antitheses because, to Yankee fans, the ALCS that year ultimately didn’t matter.  Sure the Yankees beat the Red Sox in a grueling seven game war of attrition, but they simply advanced to the ignominy of losing to the fucking Florida Marlins.  What’s the point of celebrating a stepping stone on the way to eventual defeat?  That’s the caveat that comes with watching MSG’s “March to the ’94 Finals”; it’s great to watch the games and to see the effort that was put in to even get to the NBA Finals in 1994, but there’s the leeching existential realization that those games, and those series won, didn’t really matter since their season would eventually end in defeat anyway.  It’s for this reason that Yankee fans don’t remember or venerate the 2003 ALCS, or why Patriot Fans don’t like talking about the 2007 season, or why any rational person should celebrate the Braves winning 15 consecutive division titles.[1]  Unless your team is one of those “We’re just happy to be here” teams, there’s no reason to celebrate a playoff victory that eventually leads to a future defeat.

The Red Sox won the fierce and furious revival of the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry that lasted during the 2003 and 2004 seasons.  It’s true.  Despite their soul-tearing loss in 2003, they still got the best of both seasons.  In 2003, they saw their most hated rival, this imperial dreadnaught with the spirit of 1800s colonial Europe, laid low by the shittiest franchise in the MLB.[2]  Then, the following year, the Red Sox did the impossible and stormed back from a three games to none deficit in the ALCS to stun and embarrass the Yankees.  With the momentum of the unstoppable Juggernaut the Red Sox proceeded to sweep the 105-win Cardinals (sans Chris Carpenter) in the World Series.

Within the span of two years, the Red Sox saw a laughably inferior team render their eternal enemies impotent, they won their first championship in 86 years, and on the way to doing that, they infinitely embarrassed that same eternal enemy by pulling off the impossible.  Boston won 2003 and 2004 through and through much like the Yankees had won 1978 and 1999.  They won 2003 because of the ineptitude of the Yankees, and they won 2004 in the most spectacular fashion.  But, just as the 2003 ALCS means absolutely nothing to Yankee fans, would the 2004 ALCS matter to Red Sox fans if Boston lost to St. Louis in the World Series?

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2003 and 2004 were not fun years for the Yankees.

Imagine as a Red Sox fan, the sheer elation of that game seven victory at Yankee Stadium, completing the unfathomable comeback, only for it to quickly dissipate one week later in the form of a sweep at the hands of the St. Louis Cardinals.  If the roles were reversed, and the Red Sox never once held a lead during the 2004 World Series, would the memory of the ALCS serve as a silver lining?  Or, what if they lost a grueling seven game series like they did in 1975, 1986, or 2003?  Wouldn’t the stink of defeat, any defeat, overpower the sweet aroma of champagne and victory?

As a Yankee fan, the embarrassment and shame that comes with blowing a 3-0 game playoff lead is everlasting, nothing will ever wash away that unforgivable defeat.  If the Red Sox themselves, blew their 3-0 game lead against St. Louis, would they feel the same way that the Yankees felt?  They would have to; to go so far and to be within a hair’s breadth of victory only to see it snatched away stings way worse than the joy of victory.  For the Tom Glavine and John Smoltz, losing the 1996 World Series hurt more than winning the 1995 World Series felt good.  Would losing the 2004 World Series sully the ALCS that year?  And would blowing a 3-0 lead in the World Series have negated Boston’s own triumph in the preceding round?

Any cynical sport fan would ask themselves the following question after their team was eliminated after a deep postseason run: “What the hell was the point of getting this far just to lose?”.  For fans of the elite franchises like the Yankees, Lakers, Spurs, this is the prevailing thought.  Instead of being grateful to even make it as far as they might have, we get angry and feel almost betrayed for being taken on an inevitably futile run towards failure.  It’d be the equivalent of Sisyphus not knowing he’s Sisyphus.  Why cherish or fondly remember something that would bring your team one step closer to defeat?  It’s for this reason that Yankee fans don’t recollect the 2003 ALCS, or why Giant fans don’t elate over the 41-0 victory over the Vikings in the 2001 NFC championship game.

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Why did this have to happen in my lifetime?

In defeat, everything is colored the same shade of shit.  Despite having pulled off the impossible in the 2004 ALCS, would their victory over the Yankees still be as pristine if they lost the World Series?  This was a World Series though, where the journey far outweighed the destination, where it actually seemed like an anticlimactic afterthought.  It mattered just as much (if not more) that the Red Sox vanquished the Yankees in monopolistic fashion, as it did that they ended the Curse of the Bambino.  But, if the curse had lived on would the 2004 ALCS still be held in such impossible esteem, or would it be slightly stained a lighter shade of brown?


 

[1] Although Jet fans celebrate losing two consecutive AFC championship games.  But that’s because Jet fans literally haven’t had anything to celebrate since the NFL-AFL merger.

[2] Seriously, the Florida Marlins are like a drug addict with 8 bastard children who wins the lottery, goes broke within four years and then wins the lottery again.

 

 

 

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