Tonight the Red Sox begin the “second half of the season”. 97 games in and Boston has the most wins in the Major Leagues with 58. I know most people are quick to write this team off, and maybe deservedly so after the September That Never Ended and the Bobby Valentine experiment that followed, but let me tell you one thing: This is a fun team to follow.
After all the strife and turmoil within the Red Sox organization in recent years it is admit-able to see why people may not care as much about the old ball club as they used to. Heck, the Boston Bruins showed more heart in the past three years than Carl Crawford has in him. There is something different about this team though, the 2013 Red Sox, that just reminds us why we watch the games in the first place. This team is exciting and brings a NVRQT attitude to the ballpark every night (a big change from years past). They also go about the game the right way and seem as genuinely humbled to play in Boston as a collective group of professional athletes can be, which is saying a lot. And yeah, remember that John Lackey guy we cheered Tommy John surgery for? He’s actually producing.
The Boston Red Sox are MY TEAM and tonight I’d like to present five good reasons to watch this team throughout the remainder of the summer and hopefully into October.
1. This Is Our City
As David Ortiz so eloquently and honestly put it “this is our F’n city”. To outsiders, the Red Sox and Fenway Park are a major symbol of Boston. We as fans sometimes forget that due to the Celtics being more entertaining, the Patriots being more successful, or the Bruins out there doing their (new) thing. Boston’s heartbeat will always revolve on the successes and failures of the Red Sox, so people: QUIT SLEEPING and start caring about this team.
2. Appreciate the Right Side Of This Infield
What the Red Sox have done this season from the first base, second base, and DH position this year has been incredible. David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia will go down as two of the best Sox players of all-time when all is said and done and this year has been no exception. David Ortiz has 19 home runs and 65 RBI’s at the break, while Pedroia has 6 dingers and 56 RBI’s. Also, manning first base for the most of the year has been Mike Napoli who has driven in 58 runs with 11 round-trippers. This Sox team is a special one to watch and the production coming from the 3 and 4 holes on the defensive scorecard have been a huge factor in this team’s success.
3. Daniel Nava
Nava say die. It’s easy to forget that Daniel Nava is 30 years old. He has been the spark plug for this team for most of the season and while he is only hitting .288 with 10 HRs and 52 RBIs he has been instrumental in this team’s success so far this year. I don’t think there is a more underappreciated member of this organization and I truly believed he deserved to take part in this year’s All-Star festivities. The kid who hit a grand-slam in his first at-bat has gone largely unnoticed outside of Beantown, and while that is just fine with him, I feel he deserves better.
4. John Lackey
Look, most of Red Sox Nation was happy when they find out the news that John Lackey needed surgery and would miss an entire season. That’s an awful thing to write and think, but it’s the truth. And when Lackey was involved in the whole “beer and chicken” controversy things got even worse. But in 2013, Mr. Lackey has been one of the more productive Red Sox players, and when he got injured earlier this season it was a true cause for concern. Unbelievable, huh? John Lackey is 7-6 with a 2.78 ERA this season and he could be a real factor down the stretch if he continues to pitch this well.
5. Look At This Pitching
Championships always come down to pitching. They just do. And this Red Sox team just might have enough if things play out correctly. All-Star Clay Buchholz is having a career year at 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA and the biggest factor with him will be being healthy when it matters. Jon Lester has been a bit disappointing so far this year but still holds a 8-6 record with a 4.58 ERA and if he gets hot he can string plenty of wins together. As mentioned before, John Lackey has been great, which leaves Ryan Dempster and Felix Doubront (and company) to close out the starting rotation. In the bullpen Koji Uehara, Craig Breslow, and Junichi Tazawa have been spectacular and dependable. When one of the biggest concerns with your team is finding another bullpen arm you are doing something right, so I think this team just might be okay.