The Grace Period Is Over: A New Era for Red Sox Nation

It’s over for Red Sox Nation. The grace period and hangover that was the 2005 season is officially over. The year after finally came, and ended when the South Side boys of Chicago dominated the defending champion Red Sox, sweeping them in three games. The miraculous comeback that all of Red Sox Nation waited for never came, leaving fans with questions of how and why this happened? Who is responsible for the underachievement of the defending champs? An entire off-season lies ahead, in which these questions will be answered, and the problems of the ’05 squad remedied. The Boys playing in Fenway Park in 2006 will be very different from those of the past few seasons. Let’s appreciate what the self-proclaimed “Idiots” gave us over the last three years; a world series title, three playoff births, and unforgettable memories. In all likelihood Kevin Millar, one of the many outspoken personalities on the Red Sox, will not be back next season. After a season in which he hit only 9 home runs, batted in 50 runs, and lost his starting job to a 37 year old who is in the twilight of his career, it doesn’t look like the Red Sox will make a big push for the free agent. If Millar does not come back, he will leave an unprecedented legacy off the field. He made the 2003 season synonymous with “Cowboy Up”. He was the Rally Karaoke Guy. He was the cheerleader. His loud mouth and team spirit made his mark as a Red Sox over the last few years. Bill Mueller. A class act, a class player. This is one player Sox fans don’t want to see go. His contract is up, and young talent from the Red Sox is pushing Mueller out of his role. His night against Texas in the 2003 season in which he hit two grand slams-one from each side of the plate-and another home run for good measure-was a game for the record books. He was the stopper at third base, playing gold glove caliber defense for over two and a half years for the Sox. Johnny Damon came to Boston as a clean-cut, goody-two shoes outfielder. If he leaves, he will leave a jungle man, sporting a legitimate beard as well as foot-long hair. He collided with Damien Jackson in the 2003 ALDS, but still came back to play in the ALCS. Damon hit the “go-ahead” grand slam in Game seven of the 2004 ALCS. He hit in 29 straight games last season. Johnny Damon is the man. Lastly and most memorably, the man himself-Manny Ramirez. On the red Sox team website, Theo Epstein has said