It was as if the 2013 Boston Red Sox season was plucked from a pack of scripts awaiting a green light. Some hopeful screenwriter could have penned this tale of a team rising from the rubble of its implosion, enduring unspeakable tragedy to its city and embodying the resilient nature of that city on its journey to redemption and ultimately, historic glory.
It was a season that left pundits and fans alike in a state of unexpected wonder. The Boston Red Sox became the first team since the 1991 Minnesota Twins to win a World Series title a year after a last place finish. This Red Sox team carved its name into legend with a season no citizen of New England will forget. All of that certainly sounds like a movie.
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And each occupant of the Boston Red Sox clubhouse seemed to already know the ending.
“I remember in Spring Training when position players reported, I walked by Jonny Gomes, and asked him ‘Jonny, how are you doing today?’ and he said ‘Just one day closer to the parade, right?” recalled Ryan Dempster, atop the pre-World Series parade ceremony stage. “Hey Jonny, the parade starts in like ten minutes!”
If a World Series prediction for the Red Sox was made before the season, it was kept quiet. This was a team many thought might be able to compete for a wild card berth, but one Boston fans hoped would just flat out compete. And despite the questions that mounted for each member, it was a team confidently constructed to win at Fenway Park expected to play hard, relentless baseball for 162 games. Any more than that was gravy.
The philosophy and strategy of GM Ben Cherrington and Manager John Farrell was only backed up by an AL-best 97 wins with 58 at home, 11 walk-off victories, no stretch in that 162 games with more than three consecutive losses (flat out ridiculous) and a shiny new ring for everybody.
There was the team goat, John Lackey, who for two years earned nothing but boos from the Fenway Faithful earning his place in Red Sox lore, with not just an outstanding performance, but by actually convincing manager John Farrell to leave him in the game and tipping his cap to the fans for the first time.
Shane Victorino corrected the question mark that hung on his season to an exclamation point, Stephen Drew had his J.D. Drew moment vindicating his essentially hitless series outing sending a pitch into the Red Sox bullpen.
And Koji Uehara, the fourth option for the closing spot, ended his historic season with a historic pitch. A 2-2 fastball that struck out Matt Carpenter and allowed Red Sox fans to celebrate their ballclub’s triumph on site in Fenway for the first time in 95 years.
Forty-six years ago, the Boston Red Sox went from worst to first in one of the most dramatic seasons in history. They restored faith in the franchise and the city with a chance to bring home a championship against the St. Louis Cardinals. Sounds a little familiar.
The 1967 season was deemed the Impossible Dream season. And now forty-six years later, everything was possible. For the third time in ten seasons, more than any team in Major League Baseball in that span, the Boston Red Sox rolled through the streets of its uplifted city, champions of the baseball world.
To sweeten the ending, the duckboats halted on Boylston Street. World Series MVP and inevitable Boston city key holder, David Ortiz jogged the finals paces of the marathon and across the finish line. Moments after, Jonny Gomes and Jarrod Saltalamacchia held up the home and away Boston Strong 617 jerseys that hung for each game in their dugout.
As Ronan Tynan belted a tear inducing “God Bless America” that rose to a chorus with the thousands of people lining the street, Gomes placed the World Series trophy on the finish line and carefully folded the jersey on top of it.
It was a moment, like the team and the city that could not have been stronger.
As the final duckboat filed into Fenway Park the unbelievable season came to its incredible conclusion. Quite possibly the greatest, most inspirational Red Sox season faded to black.