I remember 2004, when the Fenway Faithful grimaced as the New York Yankees put a beat down on the Sox in Fenway Park. It was another year they fell to their bitter rivals in the ALCS, but at least this one would be done quickly. After a year like 2003 was, this was easy to stomach. Red Sox fans had grown accustomed to having their dreams crushed at this point, and it was only fitting to see this happen back-to-back years.
But what happened in the next 8 games will always be known as the greatest comeback/rally in Red Sox history, if not all of baseball. It truly is amazing to see fans from Boston continuously be broken, yet recover on the slimmest sign of hope. To see a team practically beat, with history telling them “it’s over, guys”, not give up and take it game by game was inspirational. Ending the curse couldn’t have been written better by Hollywood.
This year was different to me. I may have watched a few regular season games in the summer, but I wasn’t entirely invested in the team nor the season. I took pride when I actually named the starting lineup for the Red Sox, something 10 years ago I could do for pretty much every team in the league. This year wasn’t supposed to be “their year”, experts said. The Toronto Blue Jays acquired the Florida Marlins and their expensive contracts (money doesn’t buy everything) and the Orioles were looking to build on their successful season of last year.
It sounds so cliche as I am typing this, but I got the sense on opening day that there was something different about this team. Something that reminded me of 10 years ago. This roster was filled with character players like Shane Victorino and Johnny Gomes, solid pitchers like John Lester and Clay Buchholz, and leaders like David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia. The team had an instant chemistry, and they showed up night after night playing hard for each other.
Critics waited for their decline. Even with this impressive start that carried on throughout the year, people questioned the talent present in Boston. Even after acquiring another solid arm and locker room presence in Jake Peavy, the haters kept hating. The Sox finished first in the American League, clinching home field advantage throughout the postseason.
Taking care of the Rays seemed routine. Taking the first two game then winning game 4 in St. Petersburg advanced the Red Sox to the ALCS, where they were to play the Detroit Tigers.
Is it just me or did it seem like Detroit had a roster similar to the Yankees of old? Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Justin Verlander all making $20+ million, and the roster from top to bottom was loaded. What was the difference in the end? No Mariano Rivera. The starting rotation in Detroit was just sick, but with the Red Sox rotation hanging right with them, clutch hitting from Big Papi and company were able to get to the weakness of the Tigers. With a little bit of magic and clutch performances, the Red Sox advanced to the World Series in 6 games.
This is where my argument begins. Compared to 2007 and 2004, where the Red Sox pulled out miracle comebacks when down 3-0 to the Yankees and 3-1 to the Indians, the Red Sox season had yet to deliver that huge comeback that made people believe in miracles.
In the end, they never delivered that miracle comeback in a series. The Sox took down the Cardinals in 6 games, giving the Boston faithful their first World Series victory in Fenway Park since 1918. Even without the drama of being on the brink of being eliminated in the playoffs, this whole season seemed like an everyday grind to prove to the world that this team was for real. From day one few would have imagined the Red Sox as a playoff team, and it seemed like every win was a big middle finger to the disbelievers.
The 2013 Red Sox proved individual talent isn’t the key to winning championships. Big numbers get you big contracts, and they get you recognition across the league, but in the end to win in the playoffs you need a team that can come together and stay focused on the task at hand, and the Sox were hands down the best at this from May to October.
You can’t compare the magic performed in 2004 to break the curse. It was a day of pure joy and happiness for all of Sox Nation as they finally saw their baseball team break 86 years of misfortune. I will not take away from that nor will I compare that year to this.
What the 2013 Red Sox did was put on 3 exciting series against 3 formidable opponents. When looking back to 2004, you remember the Yankees and the comeback. When we look back at the 2013 Red Sox, we will most certainly remember the Tigers AND Cardinals. It took 6 hard fought games to grab the title instead of sweeping through the finals.
Winning it in Fenway was just the cherry on top. For what Boston went through this year in the Marathon bombings, and the struggle to recover from such a tragic event, this was something to celebrate and dedicate to those affected in the tragedy. This team showed so much resilience and pride in their team and most importantly their city.
Congratulations to the 2013 Boston Red Sox and Red Sox nation on a great season! Fear the beard!