2013 World Series Champions: Semi-Coherent Thoughts A Week Later

Koji celebrates the final out!

Koji celebrates the final out!


It has been a week since the Red Sox won the World Series, and every time I see the line score from the clinching game six on my phone’s MLB At Bat app, I wonder when Bud Selig is going to schedule games 7,8, and 9 to give the Cardinals a chance to come back in the series. To be fair, I would not mind seeing this group of guys play some more baseball this year, but really the fact that this magical season is over still hasn’t really hit me yet.
To anyone outside the organization it seemed very unlikely that the Red Sox would be riding the duckboats come November. Coming off the disasters of the past couple seasons I really thought it would take some time to love this team as much as I did before September 2011, but that all changed before summer really even started. Luckily, the key offseason acquisitions and the entire clubhouse culture change that they brought with them reminded us that baseball at its heart is a kids game played by men with overgrown beards, and the way that this team played with passion showed that yeah, these were big kids on that 90-foot diamond.
To give credit where credit is due, on the field it all started at the top with “Manager John” (Farrell). Farrell was pitching coach for the Red Sox from 2007-2010 and spent the Sox black hole seasons across the border gaining managerial experience with the Toronto Blue Jays. This experience, combined with the fantastic job done by the Red Sox front office in bringing in quality ballplayers and just as importantly quality people in David Ross, Jonny Gomes, Shane Victorino, Koji Uehara, Ryan Dempster, Stephen Drew, Mike Napoli, and Mike Carp really brought this team together to create the special season we all just witnessed. Every single player on this team was brought in to fill a specific role (including late season speedster pickup Quintin Berry), and all did their job without complaining.
Over a decade after clinching a World Series for the Angels, John Lackey closed out the Cardinals to win Boston a championship.

Over a decade after clinching a World Series for the Angels, John Lackey closed out the Cardinals to win Boston a championship.

Then there was John Lackey. When it was announced in October 2011 that Lackey would need Tommy John surgery all of Red Sox Nation rejoiced in the fact that he would miss an entire season. How wrong we all were, as in 2013 Lackey may have been the best 10-13 pitcher with a 3.52 ERA in baseball history. His 3-1 postseason record was just as surprising to most, but he believed in himself and even refused to be taken out of Game 6 in the 7th inning. It was that kind of year for Mr. Lackey. It was like that most of the guys on the 40 man roster this year.
The changes in culture and Boston baseball being fun again all took a back seat when another local sporting event, the Boston Marathon, was tragically bombed by the Tsarnaev brothers on April 15th, 2013. As is the case every year on Patriot’s Day (the 3rd Monday of April) the Red Sox started their day with an 11am first pitch against the Tampa Rays. That was a dramatic game punctuated by a Mike Napoli walk-off double, but just hours later a much more emotional and important event happened as two consecutive explosions went off near the finish line of the Marathon. The team was on their way to Logan Airport to catch a charter to Cleveland to play the Indians, but there is no doubt in my mind that this group of guys realized how important they were to the healing process of the city in the aftermath of this tragedy. No city loves their team as much as Bostonians love their Red Sox, and the “Boston Strong” ideals that this team and the One Fund Boston adopted really define this whole incredible championship drive. The Red Sox won for their “fucking” city and for something bigger than themselves, and that’s something truly rare to find these days in professional sports. No disrespect to the victims of this tragedy, but without the bombing I don’t think that the third trophy in 9 years would be sitting on Yawkey Way tonight.
Back on the diamond, it is really hard to explain what happened this season, besides everybody playing well beyond expectations. This was a season where almost every night the production came from an unlikely source, and when it really mattered you knew you could count on David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, or Shane Victorino. Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes were two of the biggest question marks going into the season and they both had more than their fair share of clutch hits, and even relatively unheard of Daniel Nava and Mike Carp won games singlehandedly for this team. Again, it was that kind of year.
In my 27 year relationship with sports, the 2004 Red Sox championship is my personal holy grail of sports watching that will not be topped until I have children of my own competing on the diamond or the soccer pitch. The 2007 World Series title was nice and added to the New England fan’s spoils, but this 2013 championship is one that I will never forget.
Thanks to Shane Victorino with a little help from his pal Bob Marley, the 2013 Red Sox reminded us that “Every Little Thing Gonna Be All Right”. For that, I am thankful.
Boston Strong.
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Stand Up To Cancer Takes Over Game Four

The Red Sox took Game Four 4-2 tonight to level the 2013 World Series at 2 games apiece. As awesome as the game was, I do want to take a second to appreciate the work of the “Stand Up to Cancer” organization. Their moment of silence with every fan, player, coach and everyone else in the Busch Stadium ballpark taking a moment to appreciate someone who they know who battled cancer was truly awe inspiring. I have no problem admitting that while the actual baseball game I was intending to watch already had me as an emotional wreck, the moment right before the start of the sixth inning took me over the edge as I remembered my father and everything that he did for me in his too short life. It was nine years ago tonight that I woke his ass up to ask him what he thought of manager Terry Francona when I came home from celebrating the Red Sox 2004 Championship, and of all the moments since his passing in 2009 I know tonight was one that would have hit him hardest since we also lost his sister JoAnne to that awful disease.

I hit two home runs in my first game back playing when we lost my aunt JoAnne back in 2002, and I know my old man has played a part in this incredible Red Sox run this season, but please take a moment to think about the people who’ve meant the most in your life because cancer fucking sucks.

Game Five is tomorrow night and I’ll try to recap the actual baseball before the game tomorrow, but let us all remember what is really important.

Me, Dad, and Trav on vacation in Bradenton, Florida.

Me, Dad, and Trav on vacation in Bradenton, Florida.

World Series Games 2 and 3 Recap

Somebody please buy Jarrod Saltalamacchia this video.

Somebody please buy Jarrod Saltalamacchia this video.

The last two World Series games can be defined by a couple of defensive miscues from an unlikely source (Jarrod Saltalamacchia). Don’t worry Red Sox fans, I refuse to post the jarring videos of the errant throws ending up in left field, but let’s just say that I am extremely glad that David Ross is back in the lineup this evening. This is not the time of year that Tom Emanski’s name should be getting these type of mentions, but in this series where one play can truly be pointed to as the reason the outcomes have gone the way they have it is about time that the Sox play another clean game.

Game Four — Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74) vs. Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97). 8 PM, Fox. Be there.

NVRQT: Jon Lester & The Sox Take Game One

Love that World Series patch on Jon Lester's sleeve.

Love that World Series patch on Jon Lester’s sleeve.


Take a bow, Johnny Lester. With his 7 2/3 inning, 5 hit, no runs, 1 walk, 8 strikeout performance in tonight’s Game One, Lester joined the great Bob Gibson as the only two pitchers with 7+ innings pitched with no runs, 1 walk and 8+ strikeouts in Game One of the Fall Classic. Also of note, he became just the 60th pitcher in Major League Baseball history to make 10 or more postseason starts, and his earned run average in those 10 starts now sits at third all-time at 2.07, just ahead of another pitcher familiar to Red Sox fans in Curt Schilling.

Kozma will forever wonder what would have happened if he made this catch.

Kozma will forever wonder what would have happened if he made this catch.

As great as Lester was, and don’t get me wrong he was the player of the game, the Red Sox capitalized on every Cardinals mistake this evening to take the first game of the 2013 World Series. It started early after a botched pretty routine double play ball misfielded by Pete Kozma in the first inning that led to the inning being extended and Mike Napoli taking advantage with a 3-run beard tugging double to jump out to an early lead. The normally sure fielding Kozma (who is the Cardinals best defensive option at the position) would make another error later in the game, and the Red Sox fans in attendance also couldn’t help but laugh when Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina let another easy popup fall between them to allow Stephen Drew to reach base.

While the Cardinals looked sloppy at every turn this evening, the Red Sox thoroughly outplayed and outclassed them for all nine innings. With the exception of Matt Holliday’s absolute bomb to dampen Ryan Dempster’s World Series debut, the only other Cardinal player who even looked like he wanted to win tonight was former Seminole Shane Robinson who earned the start in center field and was later moved to right field to replace Carlos Beltran who bruised his ribs robbing what would have been another Big Papi grand slam (it still went for a sacrifice fly to make the score 5-0). Ortiz got his revenge later (again the 7th inning) with a 408 foot blast to right-center field that also scored Dustin Pedroia to make the score 7-0 and place the game more out of reach.

Tonight’s final was 8-1 Red Sox, with Game Two scheduled for the same place and time tomorrow evening. Tomorrow, Michael Wacha (4-1, 2.78 ERA this year) will face John Lackey (a deceptive 10-13, 3.52 ERA) in a game that basically will become a do-or-die game for Mike Matheny’s Cardinals.

Down by the river…

2013 World Series: Red Sox vs. Cardinals

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It’s October 23rd and Johnny Lester is taking the hill tonight. That means it’s a good night in Red Sox Nation. If you didn’t already know, tonight is the first game of 109th World Series as the American League Champion Boston Red Sox take on a familiar foe in the National League Champion St. Louis Cardinals. These two teams met in the Series that changed the way the vast majority of Boston fans saw not only sports but life in general back in 2004 with the Red Sox completing a clean sweep of the Red Birds, and while New England is hoping for a repeat performance it probably won’t be that easy this time around. I know I haven’t written too much about this team this year, instead choosing to just sit back and enjoy the “Road to Redemption”, but tonight I would like to preview this series position by position for you to enjoy.

Starting Pitching: Advantage St. Louis

22 year old Michael Wacha is quickly making himself a household name. (

22 year old Michael Wacha is quickly making himself a household name.

Yes, the Red Sox have one of their best starting rotations in years. Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Jake Peavy, and surprisingly John Lackey have all had great years. Add in Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront and Franklin Morales who have all seen time in the rotation but now reside in the bullpen and you probably have the third best starting pitchers in baseball. As you probably noticed from last series, the Tigers starters are just as good if not better, and unfortunately it will be more of the same this week as St. Louis has some outstanding young arms to go with their proven talents. 31 year old Adam Wainwright takes the ball opposite Jon Lester tonight and then you will see some of the finest up-and-coming studs in the game with Lance Lynn, Joe Kelly, and everybody’s favorite Michael Wacha as this series plays out.

Bullpen: Advantage Boston
Part of the Red Sox approach in the Tigers series was to up the pitch count of the starting pitchers in an effort to get to the weaker bullpen at Jim Leyland’s disposal. That approach will not work against the St. Louis Cardinals as Shelby Miller, Trevor Rosenthal, John Axford, Edward Mujica and company are almost as good as the Cardinals starting pitching. Things don’t get much easier in the late innings with these guys on the mound, but thankfully the same can be said of the Red Sox relievers as of late. As Dennis Eckersley pointed out late in the season, Red Sox closer Koji Uehara is the Craig Kimbrel of the American League and has been lights out this year (he’s allowed only 33 hits in 74.1 innings with a 1.09 ERA). In bridging the gap between starting pitchers and Koji the Sox have the aforementioned starters turned relievers, as well as Craig Breslow, Junichi Tazawa, and Brandon Workman who have all surpassed expectations this year.

Catcher: Advantage St. Louis
Yadier Molina is a guy known much more for his defense and his work behind the plate than he is as an offensive weapon, but to his credit he did hit 12 home runs and drive in 80 runs during the regular season. The Red Sox counter Molina with a platoon of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and David Ross, but let’s face it: they are not part of the Molina pedigree of catchers.

David Ortiz ALCS Game 2 Grand Slam provided this awesome moment.

David Ortiz ALCS Game 2 Grand Slam provided this awesome moment.

First Base/Designated Hitter: Advantage Boston
With no designated hitter allowed at Busch Stadium, Big Papi will be forced to play the field for at least one of the games in St. Louis. While he only played six games defensively this year he is more than adequate as a first baseman and his athleticism will surprise you on at least one play during his stint in the field. Platooning with Ortiz is Mike Napoli who is looking to improve on his .350 World Series batting average (in 7 games against these same Cardinals in 2011 as a member of the Rangers). The Cardinals counter with Matt Adams and a banged up Allen Craig who are both excellent in their own right, but again face the facts, they are not Ortiz in October.

Second Base: Push
The Cardinals have a great feel good story in Matt Carpenter who worked his way to the Major Leagues as a utility player after being selected in the 13th round of the 2009 MLB Draft. Carpenter had a great year, batting .318 with 11 homers and 78 runs batted in, but the Sox are just as strong with their All-Star second baseman too. Dustin Pedroia is one of the leaders in the Boston clubhouse, and his .301 average and .370 OBP were huge in setting the table for the power hitters in the Red Sox lineup all season and will be a major factor during the World Series.

Short Stop: Advantage Boston
To be honest, the short stop position is probably the weakest on the field for both teams in the World Series. The Cardinals employ Pete Kozma and Daniel Descalso, while Boston has used primarily Stephen Drew and Xander Bogaerts to play the 6-hole. All four of these guys are very serviceable ballplayers, but none really have the “it” or “wow” factor that makes you think they will decide the series. Now that I write that, Xander Bogaerts may have his breakout performance, and that would be quite all right with me.

David Freese was awarded the 2011 World Series MVP.

David Freese was awarded the 2011 World Series MVP.

Third Base: Advantage St. Louis
The Cardinals have used their own version of Mr. October, David Freese, as well as Matt Carpenter and the just mentioned Daniel Descalso to man the hot corner this year, and while Freese has been disappointing thus far coming off injuries the team has to feel good about the production they’ve been getting from that position. On the other hands, the Red Sox and manager John Farrell have been a bit discouraged by the lack of development from Will Middlebrooks and have recently started to give Bogaerts more time at third. Whichever team plays better at the hot corner, and gets more production offensively from the position could be a key in the series.

Outfield: Advantage Boston
I would break this down position by position, but both teams have used so many guys interchangeably that my predictions could be wrong before first pitch. So instead I will mention that while the Cardinals do have the arguably the most clutch performer in these playoffs in Carlos Beltran (with Ortiz and Shane Victorino both firmly in that discussion) and an absolute stud in Matt Holiday there is a major dropoff between them and the rest of the Cardinals outfield. Former Nole Shane Robinson has been seeing a lot of playing time, platooning with Jon Jay and Adron Chambers, but this Cardinals outfield just doesn’t have the same quality depth as the 2013 Red Sox. For Boston, Daniel Nava, Johnny Gomes, Jacoby Ellsbury, Shane Victorino, newly acquired Quinton Berry, and even “The Microwave” Mike Carp have been vital the team’s success at one point or another this season. All six guys fully deserve to be on this World Series roster, even if the casual baseball fan has only heard of about half of them.

The return of John Farrell may be one of the best moves in Red Sox club history.

The return of John Farrell may be one of the best moves in Red Sox club history.

Management/Coaching : Advantage Boston
No disrespect to Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, but the job that John Farrell has done this season with this turnaround is the stuff of legends. From 69 wins and the manager who will not be named, to 97 regular season wins and a ball club four wins away from their third World Series in 9 years is remarkable. Perhaps just as importantly, John Farrell changed the culture in the Red Sox clubhouse to where even the snarkiest fan only can refer to “chicken and beer” in a joking manner. The Red Sox are a likeable bunch again, whether they win or lose, and recovering from the damage of the recent past is something that I honestly thought would take much, much longer. All a credit to Manager Farrell.

Series Prediction: Boston in 6.

And before you go, please enjoy this classic musical selection courtesy of Shane Victorino:

Jameis Winston, ‘Nuff Said

There’s a new hail mary to add to the Boston College folklore. This time courtesy of the one and only Jameis Winston of the Florida State Seminoles. Take a quick 30 seconds out of your busy Saturday and listen to FSU play-by-play/color man/legend Gene Deckerhoff’s radio call here: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/99506636/FSU%20Winston%20Hail%20Mary%20TD%2024-17%20FSU.mp3

 

The play was to #81 Kenny Shaw but we can’t fault Gene who got caught up in the moment and is sitting a mile away in the visiting press box at Alumni Stadium.

 

Remind anyone of this?

 

Box-of-Flutie-Flakes

 

 

 

 

 

Exit Sandman

I don’t care if you love, hate, or are indifferent towards the game of baseball or the New York Yankees. Tonight the coolest pitching change in baseball history occurred in the 9th inning of the Rays 4-0 win at Yankee Stadium. After making his customary entrance to “Enter Sandman” in the top of the 8th inning, the greatest closer of all-time retired all four batters he faced before being lifted for his final time wearing pinstripes. No, Joe Girardi wasn’t the one to make the walk to the mound, it was the Captain (Derek Jeter) and the Yankees all-time strikeout leader (Andy Pettitte) who had that honor. See the emotional video below, but trust me, it got a little dusty even for this die-hard Red Sox fan.

I’m not going to say I’m going to miss watching him work (it was usually pretty painful watching that magic cutter turn bats into firewood) but tonight truly is the end to an historic era for all baseball fans. It will be fun to see Rivera play an inning or two in the outfield in the meaningless final series of the season in Houston, but the ninth inning of Yankees baseball will never be the same again.

There’s no crying in baseball but I think we can all let this one slide.