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Hope still alive in Beantown10/14/2004 4:37 PM ET
By Doug Miller / MLB.com
BOSTON -- The rain drips like tears from the Citgo sign as the weather turns sour on an already depressing Thursday in Beantown.
The Boston Red Sox returned home early in the morning after another crushing loss to the New York Yankees that put them in an 0-2 hole in the American League Championship Series.
Then they found out that their ace pitcher, Curt Schilling, is definitely not pitching Game 5 and probably won't pitch again this year because of a torn tendon in his right ankle.
Add all that to the fact that the hometown boys haven't won a World Series since 1918 and you've got big-time bummage.
But this is Boston, a city built on defiance.
And in Kenmore Square and on Commonwealth Avenue, along Yawkey Way and even in the hallowed corridors of Boston's finest institutes of higher learning, there's no panic from Red Sox Nation.
Well, maybe a little.
"It definitely isn't looking good," said John Katsos, a technician from Boston drowning his sorrows in suds at the Cask 'N Flagon saloon across the street from Fenway.
"But I'm feeling good about [Game 3 starter] Bronson [Arroyo]. He's our best pitcher right now. In Bronson we trust."
Trust of a different kind comes into play on a daily basis down the street at the Boston University School of Management.
It's a dignified building where brilliant young minds are cultivated and featured in house-published magazines like "The Manager" and "Builders and Leaders."
With the Sox in dire straits after two big losses, it seemed apropos to assess the ability of first-year Sox skipper Terry Francona to steer the ship to a better course in a hurry, utilizing the skills stressed within these very halls.
BU School of Management senior associate dean Mike Lawson, a proud member of the Nation, sits down in a wood-paneled conference room and admits he's a bit concerned.
"It feels awful right now," Lawson said. "But we're still totally confident. The boys will have to dig a little deeper and play a little harder. We've got it all: excellent hitting, great defense, great pitching even without Schilling. We've also got a good attitude."
Lawson said Francona is a good reason for that attitude.
"He's obviously the right man for the job," Lawson said. "It seems like he's been able to pull together a group of guys who are really communicating well and meshing together. Managing a baseball team is very hard. There are lots of individuals you have to pull together and outside factors to deal with.
"But teamwork is the whole thing, and that's one of the things we spend a lot of time teaching our students."
But getting back to reality, is that good enough to get the Sox to win four of their next five games?
Well, as Andy Dufresne said in his letter to Red in "The Shawshank Redemption," a movie set not very far from this old ballyard, "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. And no good thing ever dies."
Abel Russell says he believes that. His hope made him drive four hours from Bangor, Maine, to be one of the first people in line to buy Game 3 tickets that the Red Sox will release sometime Friday before the 8:19 p.m. ET first pitch.
Russell arrived at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, plopped down warm clothes, sleeping bags and a baseball glove, set up some camping chairs for his friends, and will stay until he has tickets in his hand some 29 hours later.
He sits alone along Lansdowne Street under a Sox-sponsored billboard that reads, "Keep the Faith," and gets pelted by rain. He seems content with it all.
"We could definitely be in a better situation, but crazier things have definitely happened," said Russell, a restaurant manager. "Down 0-2, raining, with the possibility that it'll get rained out tomorrow, you know, it's looking a little bleak today.
"But this is it, man. It better be this year. It's going to have to be or it'll be a little while before we get the chance again."
Those sentiments are shared by Wayne L'Heureux, a stocker of Red Sox kitsch at The Souvenir Shop on Yawkey Way.
L'Heureux is pricing shot glasses as usual, but he's not wearing his Red Sox gear as usual.
"I need a day off from the Red Sox and we need this day off," L'Heureux said. "We probably need tomorrow off, too. We need to hit in the cages, watch film, and really figure out where our season is going. We can't make Jon Lieber look like Roger Clemens. We're better than that."
But like all his BoSox brethren, the last thing L'Heureux will do is give up.
"I honestly thought this was our year, and I still do," L'Heureux said.
"We're home now and it's time to prove it."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.