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A tale of two titles

A tale of two titles

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DENVER -- Championships, in David Ortiz's mind, are like your children. Each is unique, and each warrants its own special place in your heart.

In Big Papi's case, he's just as proud of this brand-new 2007 baby as the 2004 version.

"This one is very special," Ortiz, Boston's resident slugger/philosopher said as his teammates celebrated their second World Series title in four seasons late Sunday night at Coors Field. "So was the first one. What can you say? It can't get any better than this.

"There wasn't anyone specifically you can point to who carried this team. It was everybody. Everybody contributed. That's what makes it so special."

Ortiz was there in 2004, a life force and a life raft, during the miracle run through the New York Yankees on the way to a World Series sweep of the Cardinals.

It was similar this time around, with Cleveland seizing a 3-1 American League Championship Series lead. This forced the Sox to win three in a row, which they did, and they carried that momentum to another Fall Classic sweep, this time taking the measure of what had been a sizzling Colorado outfit.

A leader then and a leader now, catcher Jason Varitek once again carried a heavy load to the finish line.

"The first one was such a grind, to get through New York and get that piano off your back," Varitek said. "This was a different work in progress.

"There were constant adjustments to get different guys involved -- old guys, new guys. We'd lose guys, and young guys would step up. Old guys producing, young guys producing ... that's the way it was, all year.

"One thing that was the same was relying on Manny [Ramirez] and David, but it was a lot of work from a lot of guys to keep it going."

Another essential common link is manager Terry Francona, the first man to win his first eight World Series games.

Varitek, Ramirez, Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, Doug Mirabelli, Curt Schilling, Tim Wakefield and Mike Timlin are the members of the 2007 champions who tasted champagne with the club that ended 86 years of frustration for Red Sox Nation in '04.

That means two-thirds of that crew that changed everything in New England moved on, never to be forgotten for their role in bringing a new spirit to the franchise.

Taking a big-picture view, Ortiz wanted to reach out and dedicate this triumph to all those hundreds of Red Sox players over the years who labored to make it happen, to exorcise the infamous Curse of the Bambino or demons or whatever may have blocked the path for all those decades.

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"To all those guys who weren't here, we did it for all you guys," Ortiz said. "This is for you."

Varitek alluded deferentially to that remarkable 2004 collection of "idiots," as catalyst Johnny Damon called them, the wild-eyed band that willed its way past the Yankees with the greatest comeback in the history of the sport.

The 2004 club entered the postseason as a Wild Card even though it won two more games (98) than the 2007 AL East champions.

Like the '07 team, the '04 Sox swept the Angels in the AL Division Series and then looked beaten in the ALCS. Surviving with heart and passion in both those epic series, they rolled through the World Series, supplying ammunition to those who claim the National League has become home of an inferior brand of ball.

Consecutive World Series wins
Wins
Team
Dates
14
Yankees
10/22/96-10/22/2000
12
Yankees
10/5/27-10/2/32
10
Yankees
10/10/37-10/1/41
9
Reds
10/22/75-10/20/90
8
Red Sox
10/23/04-present
8
NY Giants
10/11/21-10/10/23 (includes 1 tie)
7
Yankees
10/7/49-10/7/50

"What that [2004] team did was allow this winning to move forward -- instead of carrying that weight of the whole Red Sox Nation, getting their hearts broken year after year," said Varitek.

"Once that was lifted, it built confidence. That confidence pushes its way through the clubhouse, through the team."

That mental toughness, the catcher added, was evident in the way the Red Sox rebounded from that 3-1 deficit in the ALCS, outscoring the Indians by a whopping 30-5 in the final three games.

"A huge part of it is when you're not always hearing that something bad's going to happen," Varitek said. "You've got experienced guys who've been through it, and you add younger people who know what it takes to win.

"That's what we have here."

As formulas go, it looks like a sure-fire winner.

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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