Monday, November 4, 2013

Looking back at the magical ride of the 2013 Boston Red Sox

Upon hearing that the Boston Globe was featuring a special 40-page commemorative Red Sox section yesterday, I decided I had to have it.  It was the first newspaper I'd bought in a long long time (other than the Wall Street Journal issue that mentioned my website, it's been several years).  This morning I spread it out to read on the living room floor, just like I used to do as a child before the internet.  Then I went back and reviewed everything I wrote about the ball club all season.

It began back in spring training, when I realized that John Lackey was still on the team.  Despite being the highest paid player on the roster, the words I used to describe his first start were "optimistically curious."  When Opening Day arrived, I said the following:
"The prevailing outlook on the 2013 Red Sox seems to be that they will be lucky to compete in the AL East.  I don't understand this at all.  ESPN picked them to finish last.  That could well happen, but I also think they are just as likely to finish first."

On April 18th, three days after the Marathon bombings, Barack Obama came to Boston.  While he didn't realize it at the time, the President predicted a Sox World Series title, and the subsequent parade this past Saturday (coincidentally Obama was back here last Wednesday before the Game 6 victory).  The next day Boston residents found ourselves in lockdown, but by the end of the week the Red Sox were back at Fenway, and David Ortiz gave what will eventually be known as his legendary pregame speech.

On the last day of April the Sox had the best record in the majors, led by spectacular starting pitching.  In early May there was a mild spit ball controversy regarding Clay Buchholz.  I was worried it could be true, but nothing ever came of it.  By the time the All-Star break rolled around I was already convinced that Boston was a lock for the playoffs, and all those last place predictions reminded me of the fictional Cleveland Indians in Major League.

At the beginning of June I discussed the statistical anomaly of Jose Iglesias' ridiculously high batting average, however by late July I came to the conclusion that the rookie's season was a success.  And then Boston traded him.  I was not a fan of the deal, here is my instantaneous reaction on twitter at the time:
So kudos to the Sox for keeping up their end of the bargain on that one; oddly enough with the help of two crucial errors by Iglesias in the ALCS as a Tiger.

On the first day of August Boston won a game against the Mariners in which they trailed 7-2 in the 9th inning.  It inspired me to write a piece entitled "It's wins like this that make you think something special is brewing."  Later that week a 2-0 loss to the lowly Houston Astros reminded me of how important it is to win the division, and avoid the one game playoff at all costs.  This proved to be an unnecessary fear, because in mid-September the Sox were playing as well as any team I'd ever seen.

At the end of the month the Red Sox decided to show appreciation for their fans (and promote their ever-growing facial hair) by having "dollar beard night" at Fenway; it was amazing.  My other favorite late season story line was the war or words with the Tampa Bay Rays twitter account.  After Boston ran away from the Rays down the stretch in the AL East race, I was annoyed (and not very confident) when they had to face them yet again in the first round of the playoffs.

In a postseason full of spectacular moments, it's hard to narrow it down to just a few, but I've chosen three:

Ortiz's grand slam brought Boston back from the dead, in both the game, and maybe the series.

Victorino's grand slam clinched the ALCS, and has extra meaning to me because I was there.

Nothing actually happened on this play, and it had no bearing on the outcome of the game or the series; but I think it accurately sums up Boston's championship victory over St. Louis.

In conclusion I'd like to share one more tweet:

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