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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The unlikeliest of championships

Revelers+gathering+around+Fenway+the+night+of+game+six
Revelers gathering around Fenway the night of game six

69. That’s how many wins the Red Sox had last year. They were the worst team in the AL East and the biggest disappointment in all of baseball. That club, led by Bobby Valentine, was the trendy pick to win the World Series, but after a season filled with calamity after calamity, and a trade that gutted the roster, the club was back to square one.
So fast forward to 2013. Not a single baseball expert picked the club to win the AL East. Very few picked them to even make the playoffs at all. After all, they didn’t bring in any big name free agents, but instead opted to bring in some positive attitude, clubhouse guys who may have been short on talent but were as gritty as they come. John Farrell was brought in as manager to try to right the ship, but this was looked at as a long-term project.
While the guys thought they had a real shot at a dream season (Dustin Pedroia tweeted that fans should “get on board now” on March 27), nobody, not even some of the biggest die-hards in Boston, gave these boys much of a shot at anything special. Dan Shaughnessy wrote “with one (spring training) game down and seven months to go, it’s apparent that the Sox have more questions than any other team in the American League East. It is difficult to pick them anywhere but last.” In a column from Ft. Myers back in early March, he added, “these guys could be really bad. And really boring. ‘Scrappy’ doesn’t sell in Boston in 2013. Not after everything that’s happened. For $170 million, a little more prime-time talent would have been nice.”
The beginning of the season rolled around, and while it started positively with an opening day win over the Yankees, and a dramatic home opening victory over the Orioles, things seemed to be derailing quickly. New closer Joel Hanrahan was injured for the rest of the season. John Lackey seemed to suffer a brutal injury in his first start since 2011, and the Marathon Bombings shook the city to it’s core, as Bostonians leaned on the Red Sox to find some solace.
But this team would not quit. They powered their way to 97 wins. That’s 28 more than last year and good enough to capture an unlikely division crown. They pushed through some tough road trips. They didn’t let Clay Buccholz’s injury bog them down. They just kept scrapping. David Ortiz seemed to be eternally youthful and Koji Uehara emerged as a revelation out of the bullpen. While some of the fans started murmuring about something special, the rest of the city was slow to catch on. After all, how could a team with less talent bounce back after such a humiliating year?
So the boys trucked through the Rays (thanks Wil Myers), but it seemed as though they finally hit that wall that we all feared against the Tigers. They lost game one 1-0 while only managing one hit, and once again the detractors started to mumble, and turn on Celtics preseason games, and say that this just isn’t the year. Fast forward 24 hours and the unlikeliest of grand slams later, and finally everyone got on board.
Throw in a sloppy but endlessly entertaining World Series win over a slightly-favored and equally-gutsy Cardinals team, with everything coming to an end with a clincher at Fenway Park for the first time in 95 years. At 11:16 p.m. on Oct. 30, the Red Sox completed one of the best seasons a Boston team has ever had. I can start listing dozens and dozens of more reasons why this championship should never have happened, but somehow it did. A year like this really shows you the passion of a fan base and how sports can transcend the game and morph into a civic common bond for a city that desperately needed to bond.
All you have to do is look at the parade. Nothing could have caused the elation on the faces of the people standing 50 deep on the sidewalks around Fenway like this title. Only one thing can get people to bunch together on the banks of the Charles River and hang from trees on the Esplanade, and that was a world championship.
We needed this. It’s time for a new era in Boston baseball. Gone are the flashy free agents, and the beer and chicken are a thing of the past (although the owner of a Chick-Fil-A in Florida offered free chicken to anyone that came in with a Red Sox hat on earlier this week). The Sox have gotten back to their curse-reversing roots of a lovable band of unkempt, raucous “idiots” who fight for every win down to the last out and are too stupid to know they’re not contenders. While this kind of a team might not be sexy to everyone, it’s a formula that has worked time and time again, and the future for the Fenway Faithful, just one year removed from a season of suffering, couldn’t be any brighter.