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From the archives

Red Sox fans are used to this type of heartache

Bucky Dent’s home run was a crushing blow to the Red Sox.

AP

Bucky Dent’s home run was a crushing blow to the Red Sox.

Hit me. Hit me again.

I am from Boston. I can take it.

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Dance me around the room. Kiss me on the ear. Whisper sweet nothings, night and day, and tell me in the end that there is someone else. No problem. I understand.

I am from Boston. I can take it.

Rattle your punches off my rib cage. Dribble my ego behind your back. Drive me as far as we both can imagine, open the door, roll me out and tell me to walk. I don’t mind. It’s OK. It’s fine.

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I am from Boston. I can take it.

I am bred to disappointment the way a thoroughbred is bred to run. I know how to fall. I curl my body into a fine fetal position. I stick my thumb into my mouth. I absorb the impact, mutter something about “not meaning anything, anyway,” bounce up smiling. I’ve been there before, Charlie.

I am from Boston. I can take it.

I don’t need any sympathy about any Red Sox today. I don’t need any welcome wagon, Salvation Army words about “good show” and “stiff upper lip” and “maybe next year” and all the rest. Maybe I would if I had been surprised, if this had been some lightning shot out of the blue, if something like this never had happened in this town before, but ...

I am from Boston. I can take it.

The Yankees won in the end? The Yankees always win in the end, don’t they? The Red Sox lost? The Red Sox always lose in the end. But it was close? Very, very close? It always is very, very close.

I know how these things go. I have seen the Red Sox, I have seen the Yankees. I have seen the Bruins, I have seen the Montreal Canadiens. I have seen the Patriots and I have seen rush-hour confusion on the Expressway and I have seen my local politicians and I have seen more than any one man can see.

I am from Boston. I can take it.

Was Bucky Dent’s 306-foot home run over a fence 305 feet away supposed to be a surprise? Was the miracle story, the story of the bat handed to him a moment before the hit really supposed to be a shock? Was the fact that Bucky Dent wouldn’t even have been hitting in that situation if someone else weren’t injured supposed to be an added kick?

I thought it all simply was normal.

The early euphoric Red Sox lead? Normal. Dent’s seventh-inning home run, the ninth batter in the lineup just changing the direction of the game? Normal. Reggie Jackson’s eventual winning homer? The Red Sox’ wild, but not- good-enough comeback? The final two outs-Jim Rice’s fly ball that was 10 feet away from being a homer, Carl Yastrzemski’s pop fly with the winning run on third? Normal. Normal. Normal.

I have seen the seventh games in ‘67 and ‘75. I have seen Enos Slaughter sliding home. I have seen Luis Aparicio, tripping, rounding third, a pennant lost by only half of a game. I know the filling inside life is only air, not whipped cream. I know the stories about the end of a lollipop only being a fuzzy stick are true. Normal. I know.

These Red Sox were not any different than the Yankees. They were just as good. They might have been better. They had better hitting. They had pitching that was just as good. They had a shakier bench and more inconsistent relief pitching, but overall they were just as good. Maybe better.

They had a season that gave this town some long stretches of baseball that were as good as any that we have seen. They had that overpowering start, that full-blown comeback, a string of excitement that was more than anyone could have expected. They won 99 games, a figure that would have been enough to put them into any playoff just about anywhere.

They simply happened to be playing in the one division with a team that could win 100 games. They simply were the Red Sox.

“No matter what the Yankees do, no matter how far they go, I am going to sit at home, convinced that we could have done the same,” Red Sox shortstop Rick Burleson said in the gloom of the end. “I don’t care what you say. I am convinced.”

“They are as good as we are,” Yankees third baseman Graig Nettles said. “Sure they are. But, the fact is that nobody is going to remember that. They are second. Nobody remembers who finishes second. They remember, maybe the teams that play in the World Series, but before that? Nobody remembers who finishes second.”

Also normal.

I think I would be bothered, maybe, by all of this if I were from New York and things had gone the other way. I think if I came from any other place in this country I would have been bothered by fate and No. 9 hitters and changes in the wind and the fact that a right fielder somehow found a ball he couldn’t even see. I might even have been found kicking a can in the early hours of this morning, strangling my cat or high-walking the tallest building I could find. I might have been found doing a lot of things.

I am, however, from Boston. I can take it.

So shake me up. Shake me down. Take me to the final five minutes of the movie and break the projector. Stick out a foot as I toddle toward the finish. Pound my head. Bend my mind. Hit me. Hit me, again.

I am from Boston. I can take it.

Just give me a minute to catch my breath this time.

Will you, huh?

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