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Front Page » November 4, 2004 » Sports » The Sports View: Napoleon and the Red Sox
Published 3,700 days ago

The Sports View: Napoleon and the Red Sox


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By DENNIS DOOLEY
Guest columnist

I write this on the day before the election, which means that "silly season" is about over. One way or another, our attention must turn to something else now. To me, one of the most important things is the so called "hot stove league."

For those of you that don't know what that is, it is what baseball fanatics do during the oh-so-long hiatus between the World Series and April Fool's Day when the national pastime begins again.

Now as both a Yankees and Cardinals fan, the pain is even now barely subsided enough that I can get on with life. However, 'tis said that "...it is an ill wind that blows nobody any good." So perhaps there is a lesson to be learned here. It is important, especially for young people.

You might well wonder what Napoleon has to do with the Red Sox. Well, he was the person that once said, "The Moral is to the physical as three is to one." The French meaning of Moral is difficult to translate exactly. In one sense it means exactly what it means in English. In another sense, though it is translated as 'morale' as in the morale of the the Army unit was high. To put not too fine a point on it, it means that heart (spirit) is more important than strength (or prowess).

I must digress here, just a little bit, to explain the "Curse of the Babe" to those who didn't understand what that was all about. In 1919, the owner of the Red Sox was a man who was really more interested in Broadway than baseball. Babe Ruth was at that time a Red Sox star. He was both the best pitcher and best hitter (something we'll never see again). The Red Sox owner needed money to finance his new Broadway show No. No. Nanette. To get said money, he decided to sell George Herman Ruth to the New York Yankees. Now when "the Babe" was informed of this (or so the story goes), he stormed out of the office saying "You #@%Il* will never, ever, win a World Series again!" Which they didn't, until now. They'd won the last three out of four before 1919. They were in it four times after that and each time some disaster befell them. Just say "Bill Buckner" to a Red Sox fan and watch them cringe. By-the-by, No. No. Nanette was a smash hit and the owner in question sold the Red Sox entirely three years later.

So there was this curse, you see. But there never really was. Curses only work if you believe in them. But the Sox fans did. You could always see the fear in the Red Sox fans' and players' eyes. "What's going to happen this time?" they asked themselves. And, sure enough, something awful did. The 'Law of Self-Fulfilling Prophecy," don't you know. There was no curse. There were bad owners and bad managers and a combination of the two.

So here it is, 86 years later. The curse is on again. The Mighty Yankees had them down 3-0. Including the third game drubbing in their own Stadium of 19-8. Nineteen, count'em, 19. They are trailing in the bottom of the 9th inning and facing the greatest relief pitcher of all times. 3 outs to go. But then, somehow, a miracle happened. The self-proclaimed 'idiots' refused to lie down and die like good little Red Sox ought. They could have just said, "Oh, the curse, you know." And the Boston fans would have accepted it. Deep in their hearts, they expected it. To be a Red Sox fan requires not a little measure of stoicism and fatalism. At least it did. But ... oh, well, you know what happened then. From the depths of despair they won eight games straight.

The moral is to the physical as three is to one. The team that won't be beat, can't be beat. Napoleon had his own words come back to him. At Waterloo the outnumbered British under Wellington simply refused to lay down and die. At the end of the day, the field belonged to them.

The patriots who launched our own revolution were also 'idiots.' Most of them were from Boston as I recall ... tea party ... massacre, that sort of thing. To take on the might of the British Empire; sheer madness. But then a people who won't be beat, can't be beat. When the British surrendered at Yorktown, the band played a tune called "The World turned upside down." Now I fully expected somebody would play it after they beat the Yankees and the 'best team in baseball,' the St. Louis Cardinals. But ... alas.

So I will have to content myself with sitting next to the hot stove during these five long months saying "Wait 'til next yearl" as the Red Sox have done the last 80 plus years. But I got to be alive to see the greatest miracle in sports history. As much as I hate them (it's my job as a true Yankee fan); the 2004 Boston Red Sox demonstrated everything that is noble about this wonderful game and this wonderful Republic.

Babe would have been proud.



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