It wasn't supposed to happen like this.
It was the Red Sox who, everyone expected, Boston fans included, to give away the American League Championship Series that they fought so hard to get back into.
But the collapse never happened - at least not for Boston.
What did occur was a cosmic shift of baseball powers and a series that will go down with the greatest moments in baseball history.
After 86 years of disappointing, heart-wrenching and seemingly impossible ways to lose, the Red Sox might finally have broken the curse that has plagued them for three-quarters of a century.
The Yankees, the bulletproof dynasty, engineered the biggest choke-job in sports history to their most hated rival. No baseball team had ever come back from 0-3 to win the series. Boston made history, and they did it at the expense of the Yankees - in Yankee Stadium.
Sox fans from Worcester to Boston to Lowell and every small town in Massachusetts and the Northeast rejoiced early Thursday morning as though the whole shebang were over.
But to erase the "Curse of the Bambino," Boston must still beat the winner of the JV game, St. Louis.
Not that it matters much to Sox fans. For all it matters, the season could have ended 5 seconds after John Olerud grounded out to Pokey Reese to end the game.
Their team has vanquished the Evil Empire and its store-bought $180 million team, a team that has spoiled their postseason dreams more times than there are pronunciations of Doug Mientkiewicz's last name.
This wasn't an upset of epic proportions. The Red Sox were the favorites coming into the series.
Not until the Yankees went up 3-0 did Boston look like an overwhelming underdog.
But they did become the underdog and a team that America embraced. A poll of ESPN.com taken the day of Game 7 showed that, out of more than 100,000 polled, 90 percent wanted to see Boston win.
At least a few of those pollsters had to have been won over by the reincarnation of the Sox.
Just 72 hours earlier, it looked as though the Red Sox were done. Especially after Game 3, where they suffered the most embarrassing postseason defeat in recent memory.
With three outs left in Game 4, the series was over. The greatest closer in postseason history walked onto the mound, ready to drive the stake into the heart of the Red Sox Nation.
For the first time in his ALCS career, though, Mariano Rivera blew a save. The Red Sox were 6 feet under with 5 feet of dirt on top when their carcass started to wiggle.
What followed was a time line of memories that will be etched in Boston lore, right up there with Paul Revere, Sam Adams and Larry Bird. It will also be hammered into the skull of every single Yankees fan.
David Ortiz hit the walk-off home run to win Game 4 and then he came back and won it in Game 5 with a single.
Curt Schilling did his best Kirk Gibson impersonation, pitching a gem in Game 6 while his ankle tendon was stapled to his bone and his sock soaked with blood from the stitches ripping out. It conjured memories of Roy Hobbs from The Natural, with his blood-soaked jersey and his heroic home run. A-Rod's bush-league interference play will live in infamy.
Then there was Game 7.
Johnny Damon, who had pulled his best David Copperfield disappearing act for six games, hit the grand slam to put the Sox out of reach. He added the pitchfork in the Yankees' heart with another home run later in the game.
No more Bill Buckners or Bucky Dents or Aaron Boones. All of the hurdles that now lay ahead seemed like speed bumps.
Appropriately, the back page of the New York Post read, "Hell Freezes Over."
Sox fans, though, are in heaven.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.