Boston Red Sox

ST LOUIS - OCTOBER 27: The Boston Red Sox celebrate on the field after defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 in game four of the World Series on October 27, 2004 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

By Matt McCarthy,

15 years ago tonight, the world changed.

We all remember where we were when Keith Foulke fielded that chopper back to the mound. We all remember who we were with. We all remember how we felt when 86 years of pain, heartbreak, and suffering was erased with one easy toss to first base.

It was unlike anything any of us had ever felt and will ever feel again.

Horns honked and church bells rang out across New England that night. Parents woke their small children so they could witness a moment that generations of fans never lived long enough to see. You couldn’t find a cemetery in Metro Boston that wasn’t covered with Red Sox paraphernalia in the days afterwards.

They won. They finally won.

For an entire region, the 2004 World Series win was as deeply personal as sports can get. It was an experience that will never be matched.

ST LOUIS – OCTOBER 27: Fans of the Boston Red Sox celebrate after the Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 in game four of the World Series on October 27, 2004 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

A lot has changed in the last 15 years. There is no denying that the passion for the Red Sox has dwindled in the wake of 2004. Baseball isn’t as popular as it once was and the Sox are no longer the kings of Boston. The Patriots took over that throne a long time ago.

It’s not the same, and I know I’m not the first to say that.

Of course, none of us would trade the Red Sox winning in 2004 for anything, but the pursuit was what defined us as Red Sox fans.

I just hope we never forget what the pursuit was like.

But as the years fly by, it’s hard not to feel like those eight-and-a-half decades of disappointment and misery will one day become ancient history. It’s happening already.

Boston has completely transformed as a sports city since 2004. We are no longer defined by the Red Sox losing. We’ve become arguably the greatest winners across the board in American sports history.

The pre-2004 world is slowly becoming a distant memory.

There aren’t many people left who watched Johnny Pesky hold the ball in 1946 or saw Joe McCarthy start journeyman Denny Galehouse over Mel Parnell in the American League tiebreaker in 1948.

Unless you lived through 1967, you probably feel little connection to the Impossible Dream. It was just a good season, right? The same could be said for the 1975 Red Sox.

Sure, 1978 was bad, 1986 was a nightmare, and I never thought I’d get over the 2003 Red Sox. But I did. We all did. 2004 changed everything.

It seems like we’ve been living in an alternate universe ever since. The Sox have won four titles since The Curse was broken. They have become perennial winners. There’s an entire generation of baseball fans that know the Red Sox as nothing but winners.

Now there’s a concept I can’t truly wrap my head around.

Times have changed. We live in the golden age of Boston sports.12 championships in 20 years. Go ahead and rank them however you’d like.

But no championship will mean more to Boston than the 2004 World Series.

Anybody who says otherwise is forgetting what it felt like 15 years ago tonight.

You can hear Matt McCarthy on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s own Hardcore Baseball podcast and on various 98.5 The Sports Hub programs. Follow him on Twitter @MattMcCarthy985.

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