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WITHOUT A DOUBT, THE BOSTON RED SOX

Who's the 2004 team of the year, the Tampa Bay Lightning or the Boston Red Sox?

The Tampa Bay Lightning was a great story. For Florida. No, make that Tampa Bay. Better just make that Tampa, now that I think about it. Okay, so some of Tampa.

But the Boston Red Sox, now that was a story for all 50 states.

There's no comparison, really.

One played hockey, the other baseball.

One waited 10 years, the other 86 years.

One made its dramatic stand against the Philadelphia Flyers, the other the New York Yankees.

The Red Sox were not only the best team of 2004 but the best story. Hands down. They fought off a curse, their archrivals and ahistory that had painted them as losers. And they closed their historic run with eight consecutive and quite often thrilling wins.

Boston was a team that everyone could love, from Floridians to Alaskans to Martians to God.

Yes, I said God. How else do you explain the comeback from a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS?

JAMES VS. COTEY

Who won the argument? Cast your vote online at www.sptimes.com/faceoff. We'll tally the votes each week and at the end of 5 weeks, kick out the loser and bring another writer on board.

Up next:WHO'S HOT

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