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Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox.

There were many reasons for Red Sox Nation to be optimistic at the beginning of the season and put last year's collapse behind us: a new manager, relatively healthy lineup, solid staff, and an extra wild-card spot.

But the team never really got going, and with a 63-74 record with less than a month to go and management jettisoning payroll, the Boston Red Sox will not be part of the 2012 postseason party. It feels a little like Bob Stanley just took the mound.

The Red Sox were founded in 1901 and have called historic Fenway Park their home field since 1912. Long associated with the "Curse of the Bambino" that hung over fans' heads since winning the 1918 World Series and then trading away Babe Ruth to the Yankees, the BoSox broke through with World Series titles in 2004 and 2007.

Memorable Postseason Moments: Despite the long drought between Series titles, the Red Sox boast many memorable (and not-so-memorable) postseason moments.

The 2004 season was historic for the Sox in many respects. Winning the Series title for the first time in 86 years was certainly the highlight, but, for many in Red Sox Nation, beating the Yankees four straight after being down three games to none in the AL Championship Series was almost as satisfying. The series featured the infamous "Bloody Sock" game, where Curt Shilling took the mound with three sutures in his ankle to pitch seven strong innings and earn the win.

On the other end of the spectrum is the 1986 World Series. Facing the New York Mets, the Sox were one strike away from the title (twice!) during Game 6. In the home half of the 10th, with the score tied (on a wild pitch by pitcher Bob Stanley), batter Mookie Wilson hit a slow grounder toward first.

As the legendary broadcaster Vin Scully described, and almost every Red Sox and Mets fan remembers: "There's a little roller up along first, behind the bag! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight and the Mets win it!" The deflated Sox lost Game 7 and "The Curse" continued.

No look back at Red Sox postseason history is complete without a mention of Game 6 of the 1975 World Series against Cincinnati's Big Red Machine. In the bottom of the 12th, catcher Carlton Fisk stepped up and drove Pat Darcy's second pitch high down the left field line. As the ball curved toward foul ground, Fisk chopped his arms at the ball, willing it to stay fair. The ball hit the foul pole for a walkoff home run. The moment earned the No. 1 spot in MLB Network's "20 Greatest Games."

All-Time Postseason Record: 79-72 (16-17 in Division Series; 22-29 in American League Championship Series; 41-26 in World Series)

Playoff Appearances: The Red Sox have earned a spot in the postseason 20 times (1903, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, 1946, 1967, 1975, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009)

Pennants: The Red Sox have won 12 American League pennants (1903, 1904, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, 1946, 1967, 1975, 1986, 2004, 2007)

World Series Titles: The Sox have won seven World Series titles. They tend to dominate the early part of the centuries, with titles in 1903, 1912, 1915, 1916, 1918, and 2004 and 2007.

Stadium: Fenway Park is the oldest Major League Baseball stadium still in use. It was built in 1912. But the stadium doesn't lack modern amenities, as it has been renovated extensively and new seating has added capacity (most dramatically, rows of seats were added atop the left field wall known as the Green Monster). Watching a game at Fenway is truly a magical experience that harkens back to the golden age of the game.

Sources:

Major League Baseball website

Boston Red Sox website

Baseball Almanac website

The author has been a Red Sox fan since 1975, when, as a 12-year-old, he watched Carlton Fisk's Game 6 home run versus the Reds from atop a bar in a bowling alley in his hometown of Palm Springs, CA.

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