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Buckner happy for team, still bitter at fans

Bill Buckner hopes the Boston Red Sox's first championship in 86 years ends the animosity aimed at him ever since his blunder in the 1986 World Series.

"They're a fun team to watch and a good bunch of guys, and they
certainly deserved to win the World Series this year," Buckner
told Sporting News Radio on Thursday.

Fans blamed Buckner for ruining Boston's previous chance at a
World Series title, in 1986 against the Mets. Buckner's
error on Mookie Wilson's grounder down the first-base line, which
gave the Mets a victory in Game 6, became a symbol of the team's
postseason failures. Even though the Mets tied the game on a wild
pitch earlier in the ninth inning and won the championship in seven
games, Buckner's blunder is replayed repeatedly in programs about
the Red Sox.

"Personally, on my end of it, I'm just a little disappointed
with the whole thing. This whole thing about being forgiven and
clearing my name, you know, I mean ... cleared from what? What did
I do wrong? It's almost like being in prison for 30 years and then
they come up with a DNA test to prove that you weren't guilty.

"I've gone through a lot of, what I feel, undeserved bad
situations for myself and my family over a long period of time, and
for someone to come up to me and say, 'Hey, you're forgiven,' I
mean, it just kind of brings a really bad taste in my mouth."

Any chance of Buckner showing up for this weekend's victory parade in Boston?

"Not a chance," he said. "Like I said, I don't want to take
anything away from this team. This is their championship, this is
what they did and I'm happy for them. But my team in '86 didn't win
and this team did."

Buckner, now 53, owns five automobile dealerships in Idaho and Montana.

Parade on Saturday
Boston will honor the Red Sox with a parade Saturday that will stretch from
the Fenway to City Hall Plaza, mayor Thomas Menino announced at a news conference
Thursday with Red Sox president Larry Lucchino.

"This is a historic occasion that goes to the heart of what it
means to be a Bostonian," Menino said. "Many Sox fans wondered if
they'd ever see a World Series, a world championship, in our
lifetime. I'm proud that on Saturday we can all celebrate it
together."

An estimated 1.5 million people attended the Feb. 3 parade for
the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots. About 1.2 million
celebrated the Patriots' 2002 Super Bowl win -- the first Boston pro
sports title since 1986.

But officials have said Saturday's crowd could be even bigger,
partly because of the Red Sox's enormous popularity across New
England, and partly because of a championship drought that has
spanned generations and included several agonizing near misses.

Lucchino said team officials will take the World Series trophy
to all six New England states in the coming weeks.

"We are all in uncharted territory here," Lucchino said. "But
we do know that it will give our fans an opportunity to salute our
players and it will give our players a chance to salute our fans."

The parade will start in the morning at the intersection of
Boylston and Kilmarnock streets, in the Fenway, and will end on
Cambridge Street near City Hall.

Red Sox will appear on Wheaties box
The Red Sox will be the first World Series winner featured on a Wheaties box since the 1999 Yankees.

The special edition package will picture David Ortiz on
the front of the box, along with his Red Sox teammates, cereal
maker General Mills said Thursday. The box will be available in
mid-November.

Boston beat the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 Wednesday night for a
four-game sweep, their first Series championship since 1918.

Game 4 a ratings bonanza
Boston's World Series championship-clinching victory received a 18.2 rating and 28 share, the highest for Game 4 of a Series since 1995.

The average audience of 28.8 million was the largest for a Game
4 since 1991, when Minnesota and Atlanta went seven games in one of
the most exciting series.

In Boston, the game averaged 59.0/77, beating each of the Patriots' Super Bowl victories but falling short of the
59.9/77 for Game 7 of the 1986 World Series against the Mets. In St. Louis the game earned a 42.6/57 rating.

The Red Sox's sweep of St. Louis got a 15.8/25 rating overall, 23 percent higher than the Marlins' six-game win over the Yankees last year and the highest rated Series since the Yankees swept Atlanta in 1999, which was on NBC.

Overall, postseason ratings were down six percent from last year.

The rating is the percentage of television households tuned to a
telecast, and the share is the percentage tuned to a telecast among
those households with televisions on at the time.

Kerry, Bush have their say
Count Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts among
those Boston baseball fans who have waited a lifetime to see the
Red Sox win the World Series. President Bush says he's excited,
too.

Kerry, wearing a Red Sox cap as he bounded into a morning rally
in Toledo, Ohio, recalled someone phoning a radio show early in the
campaign and saying, "John Kerry won't be president until the Red
Sox win the World Series." He exclaimed, "Well, we're on our
way!"

Not everybody felt that way. Boston pitcher Curt Schilling,
interviewed on ABC's "Good Morning America," said, "Tell
everybody to vote. And vote Bush next week."

Bush congratulated the team's owner and president by phone -- and
thanked Schilling for his support.

The Red Sox pitcher will appear with Bush on Friday at stops in
New Hampshire, according to the campaign.

The president watched part of the Game 4 Wednesday night,
said spokesman Scott McClellan.

"This is a long time coming and he shares in their excitement
at winning the World Series," McClellan said.

Kerry said, "I've been rooting for this day since I was a kid. ... This Red Sox team came back against all odds and showed America
what heart is. In 2004, the Red Sox are America's team."

Will broken curse rub off on Cubs fans?
After watching the Red Sox sweep the World Series, Chicago is tantalized by the
possibility of a baseball championship all its own after an even longer drought. And this city has two major league teams.

"It lets us know, whether or not you believe in curses, that if
they are true, they can be overcome," said Dave Kunicki, who helps
run a Cubs fan newsletter, The Heckler.

The jubilation in Boston underlined yet another season in which
the Cubs again fell short of baseball's big prize.

"Some curses haven't been lifted," read a headline in Thursday's Chicago Sun-Times over a columnist's story about
visiting a darkened, empty Wrigley Field on Wednesday night while
the World Series played out elsewhere.

The Cubs and crosstown White Sox have gone longer than any team
without a World Series crown. The Cubs last won in 1908, the White Sox in 1917.

White Sox fans blame poor play, at least lately. But fans of the Lovable Losers claim their Cubs are cursed.

As the story goes, a local tavern owner put a hex on the team in
1945 when he wasn't allowed to bring his pet billy goat into
Wrigley Field for a game. That was the last year the Cubs made an appearance in the World Series.

The team's subsequent postseason struggles have reinforced the
idea, like the ground ball that rolled through Leon Durham's legs
in 1984 and took with it the Cubs' hopes to get to the World Series.

Just last year, with the Cubs five outs from the World Series,
fan Steve Bartman reached for a ball hit toward his front-row seat
at Wrigley Field, knocking it away from left fielder Moises Alou.
The Cubs then gave up eight runs to the Marlins and squandered
another lead in Game 7 the next night.

Now that the Red Sox curse is lifted, 76-year-old Dorothy Stott
of Chicago has renewed hope she will see the Cubs win the World
Series in her lifetime.

"There's always next year," she said.

Headed to the Hall
Nearly a dozen items commemorating Boston's title are headed to the Hall of Fame.

Among the memorabilia on the way to Cooperstown are Derek Lowe's
jersey, the glove used by shortstop Orlando Cabrera and the cap
worn by starting pitcher Pedro Martinez in winning Game 3.

Also going on display will be Keith Foulke and Curt Schilling's
spikes; Johnny Damon's hat, and bat from Game 4; and World Series
MVP Manny Ramirez's bat used in Game 4.

The artifacts will be added to the museum's postseason exhibit,
Autumn Glory, and will remain on display until the end of the World
Series next year.

The Hall also expects to obtain AL Championship Series MVP David Ortiz's home jersey and bat he used during the World Series.