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Red Sox Planet rejoices
10/28/2004 2:20 AM ET
ST. LOUIS -- Something must be said when the people who have defined the term "long-suffering," as baseball knows it, suffer no more.

There is joy on Red Sox Planet. It is the kind of joy that follows struggle, making it a sweeter-than-ever kind of joy. It stretches from here on the banks of the Mississippi to the heartland in New England and then, with no exaggeration, to every inhabited portion of the globe.

At Busch Stadium, as Wednesday night turned to Thursday morning, hundreds of devoted Red Sox fans were still standing in the third-base stands, above the visitors' dugout. They were still chanting: "Thank you, Red Sox!" as they had been ever since the Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-0, to win the World Series.

It appeared that these people would be chanting there in the third-base stands until they were evicted from the premises by the appropriate authorities. But who are the appropriate authorities in times such as these, when a baseball team has overturned convention and made history and brought fulfillment to people all over the earth/Red Sox Planet?

The breadth and the depth of the positive emotions that the Red Sox have stirred with their historic comeback in the Championship Series and now with their World Series sweep over the Cardinals has been astounding. I have heard from people all over the globe. I made a vow to answer all these e-mails. I have fallen hopelessly behind. I need journalistic backup. I need clerical backup. I need about 16 hours of sleep. But this is not the issue.

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Some of the messages are poignant, from people, for instance, who say that they have waited their entire lives for this moment, and who wanted, more than anything else before they leave this world, to experience a Red Sox world championship. That is the depth of the feeling and it does not have to get much deeper than that. These folks have that championship, bless them. Let it be worth the 86-year wait.

The breadth of feeling is astonishing, too. First, we should add nations to the list we had in an earlier article. This is not an all-inclusive list. Anyone left off should not be offended. But China, The Netherlands, Australia, India, Mexico, El Salvador and, of course, the Dominican Republic are with the Planet in numbers. And Canada, we had neglected earlier, not because we didn't care, but because it was nearby and not exotic. But we don't take Canada for granted for a moment, because baseball lives there, too. And you people have national health insurance, right next door. So, Canada, definitely.

We had a longer list of nations represented in Red Sox Planet earlier in the week, and I made a flippant remark about how every major land mass in the world but Antarctica had checked in, and how Red Sox fans there must be tardy. Presto. Three e-mails from Antarctica.

The Faithful are there, too, at the bottom of the globe, but at the top of their form. I am now reliably informed that a science base called McMurdo Station is, you'll forgive the term, a hotbed of Red Sox fandom. The inhabitants have taken the Red Sox caps out of storage and are happily wearing them. Problem: The Red Sox caps get worn outside, the ears become frostbitten. But this does not deter these hardiest of Red Sox backers.

Further, one correspondent contends, the continent is visited annually by 24 million penguins, most of whom are also Red Sox fans. At this point, of course the penguins are Red Sox fans and why would anybody even raise a doubt regarding this issue?

There are, of course, places in the world where joy is an especially rare commodity. In this vein, there have been messages from Americans in our armed services, deployed in Iraq, who unfailingly say that the Red Sox victories have lifted their morale. No matter where you are on the political spectrum, there ought to be comprehensive agreement that this is a very good thing. The rest of us can only imagine how difficult this service to our country is, and if the Red Sox winning makes those lives better, then this World Championship is doubly good.

All in all, there can be little doubt that Red Sox Nation has expanded into Red Sox Planet. The people who take the time to write are not latecomers or bandwagon-jumpers, either. They have suffered the disappointments and the frustrations, they have lived the experience. And all of that serves now to make the Red Sox triumph sweeter.

Around the globe, the residents of Red Sox Planet are having their time. There are, of course, Yankees fans and Cardinals fans in far-flung locales and they are not now in a position to rejoice. But Red Sox fans have waited a long time for their turn to come. On patience and perseverance alone, give the residents of Red Sox Planet their time and their due: this history, this victory, this happiness.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.