Sox it to 'em

Red Sox manager Terry Francona summed up Wednesday night's history-cracking win with the understated accuracy of a perfectly pitched slider: "To do what we did, you have to have people chip in and do some special things."

Right, some special things. Like be only the first team in the history of baseball to rally from a three-game loss to a four-game sweep that clinches a postseason championship.And that, in hostile territory against your biggest rival who, in the same series last year, got the upper hand.

Right, chip in. Like only have an injured Curt Schilling pitch seven top-form innings to secure Game 6; or rely on the patient determination of slugger David Ortiz for his 12th-inning (!) home run to win Game 4 and his 14th-inning (!!) single to win Game 5.

With his simple analysis of teamwork and hard work, Mr. Francona got to the heart of what makes baseball - and any team sport - worth watching and playing.

Yes, there was the undeniable drama and emotion of baseball's biggest rivalry to bring even nonfans to the American League Championship Series.

But to keep them riveted required the skill of pitchers, fielders, and batters; the defiance of fatigue and discouragement, and the conviction that every moment is an opportunity for a fresh start (a fan's sign in Game 7 - "history starts now" - captured the right spirit).

So, incredibly, Boston's so-often disappointed team and fans advance to the World Series. They've put on an inspiring show for the "Red Sox Nation," and the American nation.

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