Sports Commentary 10/31/13 – Boston Strong, World Champs !
A WORLD SERIES STORY WORTH TELLING
The 2013 Major League Baseball season didn’t start with the Boston Marathon bombings for the Red Sox, but the slogan that held the city together after those bombings became the mantra of a team doing it’s part to help a community heal, the recurring theme of their season.
The 2013 season began for the Red Sox in 2012, when they followed a last place finish in the American League East with the firing of Bobby Valentine, perhaps the most divisive manager in their history. It started when the Sox finally landed the man they wanted in the first place as his replacement, Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell, the former Red Sox pitching coach. The right man for the right mix at the right time, the first of a number of brilliant off season moves by Ben Cherrington that has reduced Theo Esptein to an Olde Towne footnote.
Cherrington’s second greatest 2012 contribition to 2013 was in finding a dance partner, in the cash rich Los Angeles Dodgers, and engineering a deal that unloaded clubhouse malcontent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto, a Brinks truck delivery day load of salary and another Brinks truck load of airline add-on fees in baggage. The returns on that deal brought, directly or indirectly, such “Moneyball” bargains as Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew and David Ross, underrated, undervalued veterans who know how to blend in with already in place team leaders, David Ortiz and Dustin Pedrioa firmly entrenched in that role in Boston, while setting an example for younger players to help mold them into key components. Xander Boegarts alone has more upside than the entire New York Yankees farm system.
When we first saw Junichi Tazawa at the major league level he was delivering a game winning 15th inning two run home run to Alex Rodriquez back in the season when the New Yankee Stadium was christened. It’s been all uphill from there as he sets up the closers to set ‘em down, speaking of which, two closers who did go down may never see a ninth inning at Fenway again, now that Koji Uehara has emerged as the successor to the recently retired standard of that position, Mariano Rivera. He’s not actually unhittable, it just seems that way.
Every World Series champion writes great stories along the way, and even the story of this years Red Sox, a team that came together in the face of tragedy while covering their own faces in beards of unity, personal anonymity, in a manner of speaking, while bearing the indentity of a single entity, is not unprecedented. The story of returning some normalcy to a city reeling from tragedy has been written before. The Yankees brought the World Series, with Paul McCartney in a lead role, to New York in 2001, while the city was still reeling in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attack. The Red Sox, however, sealed the deal, with the first Fenway Park clinching of a World Series title since that infamous year in Boston baseball history, 1918.
In a century and a half of Major League Baseball history there have been a lot of good World Series stories written. “Boston Strong” is certainly one of the better ones.
With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.