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Boston Strong

Thank you, Red Sox, for an unbelievable year.

Jared Wickerham

Another World Series win. The third in a decade. Boston is the first city to enjoy three championships since the millennium rolled over. There are going to be approximately seven thousand articles today and in the next few days talking about how much we deserve it. How the events of April would have made it horrible for St. Louis to take this championship away from Boston. And they'll be well meaning, really. But they'll be wrong. To say that Boston deserved this championship is to turn this season into a late-era Stallone flick. We didn't deserve it. But goddamn did we need it.

There is, and this is important, no correlation at all between watching your team lose on the field and watching the heart of your city consumed by smoke. The pain Boston felt for its baseball team from the middle of September 2011 through the Punto Trade was real, but didn't compare to the events of Marathon Monday. I was angry after the last two Red Sox seasons. I was devastated watching the news in April. These things are very far apart. And yet the Red Sox were the biggest part of the recovery.

Sports and tragedies have one important thing in common: they're unifying. I've more than a few friends, Twitter followers, and in-laws with whom I really can't discuss politics, sitcoms, music, or any of the other basics of conversation. But they're from Boston or have a connection to the city, and thus I can talk sports. Sports are the one place where I can hate Luke Scott because he's an occasionally useful member of Tampa's lineup rather than because he's a birther jackass desperately trying to pull off Wolverine mutton chops.

This, other cities, is why we got so pissed off when you co-opted the "Boston Strong" stuff. Sure, it was just a slogan, and not too far off from the sort of bland crap we use to sell gas-guzzling trucks to suburbanites desperate to feel like self-sufficient pioneers. But it worked perfectly for this town. Boston is a town founded by Puritans too uptight for the English and taken over by the Irish. We don't really do caving in here. There's a sequence in Good Will Hunting that sums it up pretty well:

"He used to just put a belt, a stick and a wrench on the kitchen table and say "Choose."

"Well, I gotta go with the belt there."

"I used to go with the wrench."


"Cause fuck him, that's why."

"Boston Strong" wasn't a rallying cry or a declaration of supremacy so much as it was a yell. A response. The population of a major American city saying "Nice try, kid, but it didn't work." And Boston's sports teams responding to that call, winning games and keeping the city in good spirits, was the perfect follow-up. Because the city had never felt so vulnerable before. This town has seen cholera outbreaks, Spanish flu epidemics, British occupation, and a goddamn molasses flood, but rarely had we been truly attacked. Freedom from fear was the one of Roosevelt's idealistic quartet we'd always had. For a week, we lost that. And for six months, the Red Sox have been a source of joyous normality.

And now that normality has culminated in a championship, and we're going to enjoy the hell out of it. We'll enjoy every memory. David Ortiz's astounding World Series. Jon Lester's career-defining postseason. The emergence of Daniel Nava, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Felix Doubront as key blocks in the franchise's structure. Jacoby Ellsbury putting up great numbers in what might be his farewell to the organization that drafted and developed him. The poise and promise of Xander Bogaerts.

The single thing to remember when anyone you know celebrates or loves or mourns: it's not about you. It's about them and what they need. Boston needed this. This isn't to say we deserved it, or that we could be truly mad at St. Louis, or Detroit, or Tampa, had they taken the Red Sox down in any of the postseason rounds. Every city has their own issues, and their own need for success. If there were a single city in this nation that were truly happy or had no problems, we would have no need of sports franchises or elected officials. Last night, a great number of Red Sox fans walked peacefully from Fenway Park to Copley Square, the site of April's attack. I'd have done the same had I gotten in to the game. Not because the Red Sox had brought anyone to justice, or banished the memories of that week. Because my city was united in joy, and could truly reclaim that space.

In April, I wrote that all the Red Sox could do for our town was to make our lives a little more normal, one inning at a time. I'd have settled for a winning season, a team that played hard and made the summer fun. Instead, this team surpassed my wildest expectations, and gave us all a championship sweeter than I could have imagined. On Saturday, the entire city will line up along Boylston Street, waiting for Jonny Gomes to punt beer cans at us. We'll stand twenty deep in Copley Square, and we'll do it without fear, because that place is ours. And it's always been ours. We lost it for a while, but the Red Sox helped distract us for long enough that we remembered.

The Boston Red Sox are the champions of Major League Baseball. Raise a glass, sit in contemplation, but most of all take a moment of joy. Because life sends us all manner of sorrows, and pure joy is a rare thing. Savor it. Treasure it. And whether you live here or not, recall that you are a part of this town, through your love of our team. Boston Strong. Let's do this again next year.

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