The Red Sox put an exclamation point on a season that was as improbable as it was historic, defeating the St. Louis Cardinals, 6-1 on Halloween eve to win the World Series, 4 games to 2! Trying to make sense of the last 12 months in Red Sox Nation & this particular Red Sox team’s journey is dizzying. There are so many superlatives, so many clichés that have been attributed to this team, but they still don’t capture the true aura, the true essence of the 2013 Red Sox and the incredible ride they took us on this season.
In the days leading up to Game 6 against the Cardinals, I had a conversation with Red Sox Chairman, Tom Werner via email. Making light of the Red Sox incredible journey, I joked that he (Werner) of all people knew that if someone had brought this script to Hollywood, they’d have laughed and dismissed it for being to hokey and unbelievable. For those who are not aware, prior to Tom Werner becoming a team owner in 1990, he had built a career as a highly respected and successful Television Executive. Werner was largely responsible for developing such shows as “Mork & Mindy,” “Bosom Buddies,” “Taxi” & “Soap,” in essence, playing a significant role in launching the careers of Robin Williams, Tom Hanks, Danny DeVito and Billy Crystal. Oh, and he was also Executive Producer of “The Cosby Show.” Tom Werner was no stranger to such scripts!
On the eve of the impending Game 6, I wished him luck and stealthily congratulated him for being one step away from being part of one of the most historic turnarounds in baseball history. “It is still one more hill to climb,” he began, “but I think there is enough magic in their tank to close it out!”
MAGICAL! Werner hit the nail on the head! That was the perfect way to describe the plot twists, turns & the dramatic events that brought this team and Red Sox Nation to the threshold of glory! Perhaps this season was truly driven by some mystical destiny and influence; Much like when Ray Kinsella explained to Terrance Mann in ‘Field of Dreams’ about the voices in the cornfield and subsequent spiritual chain of events, by rationalizing that “there comes a time when all the cosmic tumblers have clicked into place and the universe opens itself up a few seconds to show you what’s possible.” No one could have expected a miracle after the Red Sox fell from grace in 2011 & 2012 when they plummeted to last place with 93 losses. Nor could they have expected one when they subsequently jettisoned $170 million in payroll to create roster and cash flexibility only to totally stump the media by not signing either of the top two available impact Free Agents. But a miracle did indeed happen! For sure, the stars had aligned, the cosmic tumblers had clicked into place for this season, this organization, this team and the result was a rebirth of charmed glory! All that was missing was recurring sighting of an apparition in the form of Ted Williams, emerging from the shadows of the Green Monster as he strutted to home plate to hit a pinch-hit, walk-off homerun!
“Go the Distance!” With one more victory, that is what the 2013 Red Sox were trying to accomplish! To go the distance, from worst to first, to go the distance from a battered city to city in healing, this team was poised to capture it all. During this improbable season they’d already captured our imagination and our hearts & now they were poised to capture the ultimate baseball prize, the World Series Championship! Was there enough magic left in the tank, as Werner had hoped for? A Nation waited!
One night later, on October 30, 2013, we had our answer! YES, there was indeed more than enough magic in the moonlight & in their tanks to conjure up one more win, capturing another fairy-tale championship for Boston, the city that this team has been instrumental in helping to heal!
This was indeed one of the most magical, improbable journeys in sports history! From the “worst to first” angle, to the “under the radar, off-season signings of players like Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes, Stephen Drew, David Ross and Koji Uehara, to the Marathon bombings and the subsequent bonding of a team to the city, it is nearly impossible to rationally comprehend the all that has happened and the ensuing results of the journey that we just experienced. This doesn’t happen in real life, this only happens in the movies. It is like combining ‘Rocky,’ ‘Miracle,’ ‘Field of Dreams,’ ‘The Natural’ and ‘We Are Marshall’ into one movie under the pretext that it was based on a true story! Like
I mentioned earlier, Hollywood would have rejected this script for its lack of believability and corniness. That is what makes this season and this Championship so special. This team broke all the rules of predictability & probability and through their grit and heart, not only won a championship and the hearts of their fans, but they connected with a wounded city like never before, playing a large role in their healing process.
This season was a perfect storm of karma, emotion, talent and a bit of magic, coming together to turn the impossible into the possible. The hiring of John Farrell; not signing Josh Hamilton or Zack Greinke in the off-season but instead signing Victorino, Napoli, Gomes, Drew, Ross, Koji and company; the Marathon Bombings; Big Papi missing the first three weeks of the season, then finally making his 2013 debut in the first home game after the bombings where his rousing, defiant pre-game speech epitomized the Boston spirit and helped ignite the healing process; Gomes and Nava leading an emotional comeback late in that same game to figuratively and literally flex their Boston Strong muscles; walk-offs; the beards; High Five City; and finally, the unwavering belief in each other were, individually, nothing special, but together, created a cosmic snowball of success for the 2013 Red Sox that culminated in their World Series victory!
This is HIS Fucking city
Immediately after the Game 6 ended, I sent Werner a congratulatory email, to which he replied, “Thank you…It really was a magical season.” There it was again! Magical! After such an incredible journey, many of us in Red Sox Nation undoubtedly looked skyward, as if looking up to let our departed Red Sox family know that ‘this was for them,’ hoping that in someway it could “ease their pain” from never having witnessed a Red Sox Championship themselves. But maybe it wasn’t their pain this time.
Do you remember the ironic twist at the end of “Field of Dreams” when Shoeless Joe Jackson corrects Ray Kinsella who mistakenly thought the reason for all the cosmic karma was to ease Ray’s father’s pain? Well, perhaps we too were mistaken and in the end, it was our own dear departed loved ones that were responsible for clicking those cosmic tumblers in to place in order to ease our pain and the pain of a city, a region and a Nation! Just maybe…
I didn’t have the strength to put the “want to have a catch” scene.
Whether you believe that there was something a little magical or cosmic about this season or not, it does not change the incredible, inescapably emotional experience that was the 2013 Red Sox season! The character of this 2013 Red Sox team, mirrored the city and region for which they represent; Tenacious, Resilient, Unity! TRU Boston Strong, TRU Red Sox, TRU Champions!
Thank you Boston Red Sox for giving us the ride of a lifetime! …and thank you to our departed Red Sox family (Dad, Mom, Grandpa, etc) for clicking those cosmic tumblers in to place.
Jimmy recently admitted that with every Red Sox Championship, his natural disdain for the Yankees softens slightly…emphasis on slightly. (But he still admits to being a huge Jeter, Rivera & Pettitte fan!)