`This is the year!’

`This is the year!’ – Fans rejoice as team heads to ALC series

Marie Szaniszlo

Hate fair-weather fans? Think you’ve racked up some seniority as a Red Sox loyalist? Then meet John Arel.

“He’s been a fan since conception,” his wife, Jessica, said yesterday as the Attleboro couple raided the souvenir shop across from Fenway Park. “And she has no choice,” she added, pulling a tiny team shirt over 3-year-old daughter Rebecca’s head.

Across the city, longtime Sox fans such as Arel were still basking in the glow of Friday’s 8-6 victory over the Anaheim Angels, which secured the team a place in the American League Championship series.

“My grandfather told me,” Arel said, “he never saw a World Series, and my father never saw one, `and neither will you,’ he said.”

Arel, all of 5 at the time, dug in his Buster Browns and decided to will the Sox into proving his grandfather wrong.

“Last night, I was jumping up and down on my couch” after David Ortiz hit a two-run home run in the 10th inning, he said.

The win put the Red Sox a step closer toward erasing last year’s 11th-inning loss to the New York Yankees in game seven of the ALCS. The first game of the championship series will be Tuesday.

“This is the year,” said Charlie Nyhaug, a 48-year-old salesman from Dudley who swooped into the souvenir shop long enough to pick up a Manny Ramirez jersey. “They’re running on all cylinders.”

As he and his 9-year-old daughter, Francesca, toured Fenway Park yesterday, Dan Colturi of Northboro dismissed the Curse of the Bambino.

“I don’t think (the team) believes in the curse anymore because the general manager doesn’t, and he has a strong influence over the players,” Colturi said.

Copyright 2004

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