I do not want to wait until we know the outcome of the regular MLB season or the playoffs before making a statement about this year's Red Sox team. Regardless of what happens between now and the end of the World Series, this edition of the Bosox have given us many years' worth of memories and thrills.
Here, in bullet point format and in random order are some of my memories from this season that still has the rest of September (and some or all of October) still to unfold for the Fenway
The prompting for this Blog post comes from a conversation I had this morning with my good friend, Mike Cooper. Coop and I met - appropriately enough- at Fenway Park in June of 2001 when he was the shortstop on the West Point Baseball Team. At the end of this morning's conversation, Coop asked me why I thought this year's Red Sox team was so different from the disappointing teams of 2011 and 2012. I rattled of a few things that came to mind immediately. Here is the list:
- The Red Sox eliminated the cancer that was Bobby Valentine and replaced him with the healing leadership style of John Farrell, who come back to Boston having already won the respect of the players from his very successful tenure as Pitching Coach under the regime of Manager Terry Francona.
- They excised the cancer that was Josh Beckett, packaging him in a deal with Carl Crawford, Andrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto. Both the Red Sox and the Dodgers benefited from this blockbuster trade.
- Having freed up many millions of dollars in the trade with the Dodgers, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington was able to judiciously add players who are now important cogs in the well-oiled machine that is the 2013 Red Sox roster.
- Among those players are Shane Victorino (The Flyin' Hawaiian), Stephen Drew, Koji Uehara, Mike Napoli.
- Players who had been part of last year's team have raised their level of play considerable. Among those on this list would be:
- Daniel Nava, David Ortiz (Big Papi, fully healed from his Achilles tendon injury), Dustin Pedroia, John Lackey who shows no after-effects from is Tommy John surgery, Jared Saltalamacchia, Jacoby Ellsbury.
- Players being called up form Pawtucket and Portland to make contributions, plus mid-season acquisitions before and after the July trading deadline
- It feels like elements of the '67 Impossible Dream Team and the '04 Idiots. Never say die attitude, come from behind lightening, reliance on speed, and contributions from the last man on the bench or in the bullpen. Great leadership from the Manager and the GM.
- Neil Diamond appearing on the field on the day after the Marathon Bombing to lead the crowd is his kitschy and iconic "Sweet Caroline."
- Big Papi proclaiming a Boston Strong moment on that same day, challenging the FCC regulations with his never to be forgotten: "This is our F**king City!" The guys who sell T-shirts in Kenmore Square make sure we never forget that moment or that colorful phrase.
- Shane Victorino's walk-off single in the 10th inning against Tampa Bay on April 13.
- Nava's 3-run HR to beat KC on the April 21, the day after the Marathon Bombings.
- April 26, 8-4 victory over Houston Astro's that included - 4 HR - Ross (2), Papi, Middlebrooks. 1st Red Sox W for Dempster; Ellsbury 200th steal of his career.
- May 10, 5-0 victory over Toronto - Near perfect game by Lester - only base runner came with 2 out in the 6th - a double
- May 26 - 6-5 victory over the Indians -
4 run 9th inning by the Red Sox to regain share of lead in AL East with Yankees
- June 4, 17-5 victory over Texas Rangers -
Sox scored in each of the first 7 innings - 13 extra base hits! Jackie Bradley, Jr. 1st ML H
- The 4 pinch hit home runs by Jonny Gomes to tie a Red Sox club record!
- 6-1 victory over the Yankees capping A-Rod's ignominious return to Fenway. Record level of decibels set by the booing each time he showed his face.
- Two days later, Dempster drilled A-Rod.
- The 15 inning victory over Seattle Mariners capped by a walk-off single by Drew.