In some ways, it seemed like the outcome was never in doubt. I just had the feeling throughout this whole season that this team was destined for greatness. The attitude in the club house, the complete team effort, the veteran stars and unlikely heroes, it all came together this season for the Boston Red Sox. Everything seemed to go their way at critical moments, especially in the playoffs. This team never quit, never gave up, and not only redeemed a franchise that was the laughingstock of the league last year, but took an entire city that was suffering from tragedy and rewarded them with one of Boston’s most satisfying championships ever.
It is impossible to predict who will win the World Series before the season starts, but it is safe to say that nobody picked the Red Sox. This team was criticized for its offseason moves and given no chance to even win the division, with most people picking them to finish last. This season was about more than baseball, it was about redemption. John Farrell came in to prove that he could win as a manager and redeem himself from two disappointing seasons in Toronto. Jacoby Ellsbury wanted to prove that he was still the great player of 2011 after battling injuries. Dustin Pedroia was determined to live up to his $100 million contract. David Ortiz, written off as old and injured three years ago, came back to have a great season and an inhumane World Series in which he was the MVP.
Then there were the new guys. Many sportswriters criticized the signing of Shane Victorino, saying that he was never healthy enough to make an impact. Yet he wreaked havoc on pitchers at the top of the lineup alongside Ellsbury, and had multiple clutch hits in the playoffs including a series clinching grand slam in the ALCS. Ryan Dempster was supposed to get crushed under the pressure of pitching in Boston after coming from the Cubs, yet provided the team with a solid starter at the back end of the rotation. Stephen Drew was supposed to be injury prone and ineffective, yet drove in 67 runs and provided excellent defense and stability to the shortstop position. Mike Napoli came in and provided very good production at first base hitting behind David Ortiz. Jonny Gomes, Mike Carp, Junichi Tazawa, Craig Breslow, David Ross, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and Xander Boegarts all played key roles as well.
Finally, there is the pitching staff. After a disastrous 2012 season, everybody stepped up this year and exceeded expectations. Jon Lester bounced back to once again become the ace of the staff and pitched lights out in the postseason. Clay Buccholz led the league in ERA when he was healthy. Jake Peavy was given a chance to further boost this rotation and competed his heart out. Koji Uehara, at 38 years old, revitalized his career by taking the closer role and pitching better than anyone else has in MLB history in the last 3 months of the season, including Rivera. Finally, there is John Lackey. After having two of the worst seasons of his career and taking the blame for the 2011 collapse, then getting injured for all of 2012, Lackey was arguably their best pitcher at times during the season, and was even better in the postseason. It was pure destiny for him to win the clinching game of the World Series to complete the redemption.
The Red Sox became just the second team to go from worst to World Series champions in one year, with the other being the 1991 Twins. However, the Red Sox finished the previous season with more losses and this season with more wins than the Twins had in 1990 and 1991. But this season was more than baseball. In 2004 it was about breaking the curse. In 2007 it was about proving they could win it again. In 2013, it was about redemption. Everyone had a chip on their shoulder, and everyone came together to help this team win. Motivated by the Marathon tragedy in April, the Red Sox put this city on their back and delivered arguably the most satisfying championship yet. This team did everything the right way. No big egos, no big contracts, everyone playing their part and putting the team first. The Red Sox have truly become the model franchise in baseball and a blueprint for how you can overcome adversity and play like a champion, even without the most talented team.
The 2013 Boston Red Sox truly are Boston Strong.
Boston wins 8th championship in 12 years, and their 34th overall
Bryant Pond Jump