BOSTON — Mike Vining had decided that he was going to take his 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible out for a drive Tuesday. The sun was out. He had the top down. Then he had another idea: Drive down to Fenway Park and soak in the excitement.
The Boston Red Sox, as you know, as he knows and as everyone in Boston knows, are one win away from a World Series title. If they can wrap it up, either in Wednesday night's Game 6 or a possible Game 7 on Thursday, it'll be the first time the Red Sox have won a World Series at Fenway since 1918. The Red Sox overcame "The Curse" in 2004 and won again in 2007, but both of those were clinched on the road.
Now, here, today, there's an excitement in the air that's different than even a week ago when the Red Sox were playing Game 1 against the St. Louis Cardinals. Vining, who collects classic Cadillacs, even stopped and bought magnetic Red Sox decals to stick on the car's doors. This isn't like putting a sticker on your Hyundai, folks. This is an all-original classic car with 30,000 miles on it. There's one like it for sale for $225,000 in St. Louis, the irony of which does not escape us.
"I wanted to drive through and see what the atmosphere would be like," Vining said. He stopped outside on Yawkey Way and drew a crowd of people with their cameras and smartphones aimed in his direction. "This is one of the most exciting sports things to happen in this town," he says. "Because it's not expected."
He's right. The Red Sox were in last place a year ago. Their worst-to-first turnaround is well documented at this point, but still being savored by Red Sox fans. The city rebounding from the tragic Boston Marathon bombing is yet another storyline in Boston right now. And finally, there's the this-hasn't-happened-in-95-years factor. If the Red Sox win, it's going to be a huge party inside Fenway and outside Fenway.
"It'll be crazy in there," says Rico Rodriguez, 47, from Dorchester. He's one of the people waiting in line to buy day-of tickets for Game 6. "You may never get people out of there. It could be next week before you get people out."
Lexus Figueroa, 20, was walking past Fenway on Tuesday, a Red Sox cap on his head. He said he'd like to go to the game, but probably won't. He works at the Tasty Burger a block away from the stadium.
"I'll hear it either way," he says, knowing how loud things are going to be.
If the Red Sox do win, you can bet people will be debating this: What's the better win for Boston fans? When they broke The Curse of the Bambino after 86 years in 2004, but it happened in St. Louis? Or 2013, when they won in Boston?
"I have to say this one, myself," Vining says, staring off at his Red Sox Caddy.
"No way," says Rodriguez a few hours later. "Eighty-six years, dude."
"Especially," says David Hines, 21, standing next to him, "Because of the year before, 2003, Aaron Boone. As a kid I remember sitting in my bathroom crying. Crying! I was 11 years old and that was my first Red Sox heartbreak. Nothing compares to 2004. Jesus would have to come down himself and hit a home run in Game 7. That would be the only way."
Surely, from a celebration standpoint, winning in Boston would be sweeter. The two gentlemen agree, but Rodriguez adds this:
"In 2004 and 2007 when they won it, you didn't know they weren't here," Rodriguez says. "Because this whole area was mobbed. Like they had won it here and they were here. We didn't care."
Michael Mahoney says he's excited that this year's team made him forget about last year's disaster, but that's not enough to overcome 2004. Even if the Sox win at home.
"Winning in '04, I knew it meant so much to my dad, my grandfather," Mahoney says. "They waited their whole lives, we can't even compare. I was 20 when they won in '04. My father lived 50-some odd years before he saw it. This one means a lot to me. That one meant a lot to all of Red Sox Nation."
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