10/21/2004 6:57 PM ET
Thrilled Sox not satisfied
After vanquishing Yankees, eyes are on ultimate prize
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
|A day after winning the ALCS, Red Sox manager Terry Francona talks about the World Series. (Steven Senne/AP)
BOSTON -- Even with a considerable amount of clouds overhead, the glow was still bright all over Boston the day after the Red Sox completed the unthinkable -- not to mention historic -- task of roaring back from a 3-0 American League Championship Series deficit to dethrone the Yankees in seven games.
However, while the region will probably stay in a state of euphoria until Game 1 of the World Series opens at Fenway on Saturday night, the Red Sox seemed to be taking their accomplishment in the perfect way.
Thrilled? Sure. Satisfied? Not in the least.
Now that the Yankees demons have officially been exorcised, there is still that 1918 stigma to erase. The 2004 Red Sox are four wins away from being a sports story that will live on forever.
"We haven't accomplished what we set out to accomplish yet," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "I'm glad we're playing still, which certainly a few days ago was an uphill battle. But, it's just not time to have the final celebration. We're excited to be doing what we're doing, but we're not done."
This isn't to say there wasn't a great measure of joy from the Red Sox from their accomplishment, particularly those players who were around for the stinging heartbreak of a year ago. Last October, the only moisture in the visitors' locker room at Yankee Stadium were the tears. This time around, champagne was flowing everywhere.
"That's the first thing Tim Wakefield said to me," said Red Sox right-hander Pedro Martinez. "'Last year we left this locker room crying about the way things went.' At this point, we are having the last laugh."
And even though it is the first trip to the World Series for most of the players on the Red Sox -- including Martinez -- there didn't seem to be much of a sense of individuals being happy just to be in the Fall Classic.
Instead, the Sox -- even in their moment of jubilation -- seemed to still have their eyes locked in on the biggest prize of all.
"We can't relax," said Martinez, who will back up Wakefield and Curt Schilling in the rotation and start Game 3. "We have to win the World Series and bring it back to Boston and have our names [inscribed] in the Green Monster."
Right-handed setup man Mike Timlin -- along with teammates Schilling and Ramiro Mendoza -- knows what it feels like to be a world champion. In fact, Timlin recorded the final out for the Blue Jays in their 1992 conquest over the Braves.
"We've gone a long way, we've come a long way," said Timlin. "We've climbed a tremendous hill right here at the end and hopefully we'll be able to deliver on the next step."
Despite his North Carolina drawl, Trot Nixon is the ultimate Red Sox in a lot of ways. With his constant grit and all-out hustle, New Englanders have always identified with him since he became the right fielder in 1999.
In a year in which Nixon has been besieged by injuries, he is healthy at the right time and looking forward to rewarding what he believes to be the best and hungriest fans in the game.
"I know how much these fans want the opportunity to win a world championship," said Nixon. "I hear it when I go to the doctor's office. I hear it when I walk out in the streets. Let those fans know that I remember what they say. I don't forget those kind of things."
The way center fielder Johnny Damon sees it, if the Sox can erase a 3-0 deficit against the Yankees, what can't they do?
"There's no doubt on this team," said Damon. "There was a lot of doubt when we went down 3-0, but we stuck together and erased history."
And now they are just four wins away from creating even more history than they did last round.
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.