The Boston Red Sox weren’t supposed to be playing for the World Series championship. That was the belief of many when looking at what happened last season.
But this group of players left last year exactly where it belonged—in the past.
This morning, the Red Sox and the entire city of Boston are still in celebration mode after the Olde Town Team banished the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1 to win their third World Series title in 10 seasons. They’ll busily prepare for a parade in which at least a million people will descend upon the streets of Boston to celebrate a team that became a symbol of hope for a city devastated by tragedy.
That tragedy—the bombings that left three people dead and over a hundred injured—occurred on a day that’s special in Boston, Patriots Day. It’s a day that celebrates the start of the battle of the American Revolution and now famous for the running of the Boston Marathon. The Red Sox have also had a tradition of playing each year starting in the morning on Patriots Day as well.
But the city was attacked on that day, by two brothers blinded by a cause. That attack brought the city to its knees, and when the Red Sox returned home four days later, their game as postponed as the city was shut down in order to capture one of the brothers still on the loose.
But the following day, the Red Sox did play, and on that day, the city was buoyed by a team that cared, and a team that was ready to represent Boston Strong.
Up until that time, Red Sox fans were ambivalent about their team. After all, they had witnessed their team post a 69-93 record in 2012, their worst showing since 1965. They had a new manager in John Farrell, a bunch of new faces and a general manager who dared to pull off one of the biggest trades of the century the previous August. Frankly, no one knew what to expect from this new group of Red Sox.
But on April 20, 2013, they showed their city that they cared, and cared deeply. They went on to win that Saturday when left fielder Daniel Nava crushed a three-run home run to defeat the Kansas City Royals 4-3. It was the seventh win in a row for Boston, and they would go on to vanquish the memories of a horrible 2012 season, and also to help a city heal after one of the darkest moments in its storied history.
This is a team that also had character. General manger Ben Cherington signed a flock of free agents over the winter who weren’t just good fits on the field—they helped bring stability to a fractured clubhouse. This group of Red Sox players cared deeply about how they went about their business, and how they conducted themselves. No more finger-pointing like the previous season. No more sitting in the clubhouse eating chicken wings and drinking beer during a game. No more monkey business of any kind. This team simply came to play, to be accountable for their actions, and to win.
The Red Sox became the best of the worst, so to speak. Their .426 winning percentage in 2012 was the lowest ever in MLB history for any team that would go on to win a World Series title the following season.
That in itself is pretty remarkable. But even more so is the style and manner in which the Red Sox completed that stunning turnaround. They united a city after a horrible tragedy. They banded together quite possible like no previous Red Sox team ever had before. And, they played the game the way it was meant to be played.
This is no ordinary championship. The Red Sox can revel in the fact that they won a World Series title in spectacular fashion, both on and off the field.