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Champagne always tastes good

Ian Cropp
Vail, CO Colorado

The game had been over for two hours. There wasn’t any champagne left.

But more than 500 Red Sox fans, whose voices were gone from screaming every Boston chant imaginable (“Yankees suck”, “Re-sign Lowell” and the song “Sweet Caroline”), remained at Coors Field to cheer on the World Champions. We left, reluctantly, only when informed that the stadium was closing and then when gently prodded by security guards.

It was almost like we hadn’t won in 89 years. Even with the curse exorcised in 2004, the Boston Red Sox World Series victory felt like (and still feels like) a novelty.



Three years ago, it was different ” it was something that had to be done sooner or later, and it just happened to be done in the sweetest way imaginable, coming back from 3-0 against the New York Yankees in the ALCS.

This year, it felt just as good. It was a kind of reassurance that, yes, the Red Sox are a great team. While I don’t mean to in any way slight what the Colorado Rockies have done this season, I think the Red Sox were just this year’s team of destiny. Heck, the faithful of Red Sox Nation deserve another one. We’d found ways to lose the World Series and the ALCS for far too long. And here’s the scary part ” the new wave of idiots aren’t going anywhere for a while.



But back to Sunday’s finale, where there were thousands of Red Sox fans mixed among the Colorado semifaithful. Whether they were New England transplants or people who flew in for the game and sold kidneys for tickets, the number of Boston fans in attendance was astounding. Now, the Rockies are kind of new to the World Series, so I’ll give them a bit of a pass, unlike the guys sitting behind me.

When the Red Sox earned a 3-1 lead and the Rockies couldn’t get much going, the crowd grew a bit silent. Several Rockies fans in our binoculars-suggested section started scolding their own fans to stand up and yell. “Hey, don’t worry, we’re not at a baseball game or anything,” one guy yelled.

“Yeah, I’m here to do my homework, so thanks for keeping it quiet,” another fan screamed.



I think the problem is that Rockies fans are too nice. After the game ended, several people offered to shake my hand and congratulate me (it has been brought to my attention that I didn’t actually do anything, but come one, Red Sox fans suffer with the team, so really, we take as much credit for the wins). I was prepared for blindside punches and beer showers but the most hurt I got was from ferocious hugs and hand slaps by Red Sox fans.

For all the gripes about the size of the Red Sox’s payroll, there are a few things to consider. Just like the Rockies, the Red Sox have a lineup replete with home-grown talent ” Jonathan Papelbon, Jon Lester, Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury, just to name a few. And then there are the low-cost acquisitions the Sox have made, like taking David Ortiz off waivers, snagging setup man Hideki Okajima and basically stealing Josh Beckett (he made $6.6 million this year, had 20 wins in the regular season and went 4-0 in the playoffs).

Maybe they do spend a bit on big-name players like Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew and Curt Schilling, but the Red Sox can afford to do these things when they have a solid fan base that spans from coast-to-coast. And now, with Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Sox have fans in the Far East (I think Dice-K’s salary may be less than how much merchandise Boston sells in Japan during his tenure).

No matter how much they spend, the Red Sox can’t be the next Evil Empire that the Yankees have for the past decade been. Boston just has too much fun to be evil. Youkilis has more facial hair than the Yankees have had since the team had a real Mr. October. Manny is more irreverent than Dennis Leary, though totally incomprehensible. Papelbon will have his own “Sweating to the Oldies” tapes pretty soon. And Julian Tavarez, who wasn’t on the playoff roster, sticks around because he’s the clubhouse pet (Manny actually pets him). Most importantly, how can the colors red, white and blue be evil?

Contrary to what you thought, the worst part of the baseball playoffs weren’t the nominal appearances by the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies and Los Angeles Angels from the state of California. No, it was the sad state that is the New York Yankees. It’s really too bad that major league baseball can’t put a gag order on Steinbrenner, Alex Rodriguez and his agent, Scott Boras, come October.

I think ESPN’s Peter Gammons said it best during the postgame Sunday. When commenting on the A-Rod saga, Gammons said, “It’s a pitiful act of a desire to always get attention. It’s narcissistic. I don’t care. … The best story in baseball this year isn’t Alex Rodriguez. It’s Jon Lester.”

Lester, who underwent chemotherapy nine months ago to treat lymphoma, was back on the field Sunday and tossed 5 and 2/3 innings of shutout ball without his full velocity.

Further more, as Gammons said, “Dustin Pedroia and Jon Lester are doing something Alex Rodriguez has never done and that’s play in a World Series.”

And win.

Speaking of upstaging, Rockies owner Charlie Monfort couldn’t do what his players and his fans did and recognize the talent in the other dugout.

“I think this team (Colorado) is a better team than Boston,” Monfort said. “I think they got the breaks. Are they the better team? I don’t think so. You give us 10 games against them, we’ll beat them six times.”

I guess Monfort really doesn’t know much about baseball other than how not to spend money. I’m not alone in thinking the Red Sox might have swept a best-of-15 series, with Beckett getting a few more starts, and Ortiz and Ramirez ” who didn’t do a ton in the third and fourth games ” finding their collective groove. And even if 10 of those games are at Coors Field, the Sox still win. Boston showed it knows how to play National League ball, whatever that used to mean. Big Papi played solid defense, and oh, yeah, Dice-K can hit, too. As a matter of fact, Clint Hurdle may want to ask Terry Francona for a few double switch and pinch-hitting tips.

As we head into the offsesaon, baseball fans can be happy to know that the New York Yankees are doomed for a few more seasons of disappointment. The Steinbrenner kids are just as ignorant and intolerant when it comes to baseball as the old man, and they, too, seem more impressed with themselves than the $200 million product they put on the field.

Rockies fans, who will soon be on the slopes, may get a nice Christmas gift from Monfort in the form of a contract extension for Matt Holliday. If they get coal, Monfort should get lost.

Sadly, it’s time to say goodbye to Rocktober. But fret not, you can extend the month by proclaiming some new names. Tomorrow can be Cropptober ” not the day of harvest, but the day when you e-mail me and tell me how much you hate the Boston Red Sox. The next day can be Clocktober, sponsored by Fox Sports in the celebration of the never-ending baseball games. Gosh, let us not forget Tacober, sponsored by Taco Bell.

Sports Writer Ian Cropp’s favorite day in October is sponsored by the New Mexico Gamefowl Association. It’s called cocktober. Ian can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.


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