The Boston Red Sox are 2013 World Champions. That has a nice ring to it.
“This is our fucking city!” – David “Big Papi” Ortiz
It certainly is, Papi. It certainly is.
The 2013 Red Sox came together as a team when they were needed most. While it may have started in Spring Training, it was cemented after the Boston Marathon Bombings when the city needed something to rally around. And much like what the New Orleans Saints were for those who suffered from Hurricane Katrina, The Red Sox are that for Boston (and we didn’t need to wait over four years).
Something popped into my mind during the victory celebration last night, and never being one to shy away from a good comparison between fiction and real life, I ran with it.
“And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Boston’s mightiest heroes found themselves united in the face of tragedy. On that day, the 2013 Red Sox were truly born—to lift the spirit of a city and for the glory of a nation (Red Sox Nation)! When needed the most, they heeded the call, Boston Strong!”
That was loosely based on part of the prologue from issues of The Avengers in the 1970’s. (That’s Marvel’s Avengers, not that silly television show of the same name.) Okay, so I’m not a poet, I couldn’t make the rest of the lines work, but I think The Avengers are a good analogy for this team. (Admittedly, the further I went down the list below, the more I started assigning names randomly.)
David Ortiz as Captain America
Jon Lester as Iron Man
Mike Napoli as Thor
Jonny Gomes as The Incredible Hulk
Dustin Pedroia as Ant-Man (Who of course later became Giant-Man.)
Shane Victorino as Hercules
Jacoby Ellsbury as Quicksilver
John Lackey as Hawkeye
Koji Uehara as Sentry
Jake Peavy as Rage
Daniel Nava as Wonder Man
Clay Buchholz as Doctor Strange
Junichi Tazawa as Swordsman
Stephen Drew as Nova
Xander Bogaerts as The Two-Gun Kid
David Ross as The Vision
Jarrod Saltalamacchia as Thunderstrike
Brandon Workman as War Machine
Will Middlebrooks as Ares
Quintin Berry as Triathlon
Craig Breslow as Justice
Mike Carp as Machine Man
Felix Doubront as Darkhawk
Franklin Morales as Living Lightening
Ryan Dempster as Jack of Hearts
Many of those Avengers characters are ones that most people have never even heard of. I mean, come on. Darkhawk? Jack of Hearts? Living Lightening? I barely know whom they are, and I have been reading Avengers comics for years. But there is one thing they all have in common. They were all Avengers. For every Thor there is a Two-Gun Kid. For every Iron Man there is a Triathlon. It’s that very fact that made me think about the similarities between The Avengers and the 2013 Boston Red Sox.
Much like the Avengers, not all the 2013 Red Sox would have been recognizable to anyone in Spring Training. Many of these guys few people had even heard of. But that’s the point isn’t it? Most teams aren’t all made up of A-listers.
David Ortiz said after Game 6 that, “winning this World Series is special. It might be the most special of all the World Series I’ve been a part of.” When asked why that was, he pointed out that in 2004 and 2007 the Red Sox were stacked with talent. I hadn’t really thought about it until he said it, but he’s right.
Who could have imagined that Craig Breslow would be one of the most important members of the Red Sox bullpen this year? When I heard they signed Jonny Gomes, the name was barely recognizable as someone I had once heard of. Most people I know had pretty much counted John Lackey as a lost cause (though I hadn’t). I had completely forgotten that David Ross had previously played for the Red Sox. And I don’t even know what to say about Koji Uehara.
Not to take anything away from the 2004 and 2007 teams, but this team did it with heart. I know that sounds cliché, but it is true nonetheless. Somewhere along the way, maybe after the bombing, maybe before, they just decided that they weren’t going to be defeated. Just like earth’s mightiest heroes, they had too much riding on them to lose.
While the 2013 Red Sox may not have had the talent of the 2004 and 2007 teams, they did manage to make it look like all hope was lost the way those teams did. Sure, it wasn’t as painfully on the precipice of oblivion as trailing the Yankees 3-0 or the Indians 3-1 in the ALCS, but it felt almost that bad. The Red Sox lost a crushing Game 3 on an (blown in my opinion) obstruction call, the first time any team has lost a World Series game on a walk off obstruction call. Most teams would have collapsed. Hell, I thought at that moment we had witnessed the end of this run that they would lose Game 4 and Game 5, and that would be it. I kept imaging that play shown over and over again like Dent and Boone’s home runs and Buckner’s error, one more soul crushing, hope sucking, heart breaking loss to be played over and over again on SportsCenter.
I hardly slept at all that night.
But the next night, they win a on a walk off…err…throw off pick off, another all time first to end a World Series game, and after that, the Cardinals looked like a defeated team. Losing Game 4 the way they did was something the Cardinals just couldn’t overcome. Besides, the Red Sox had already decided they weren’t going to lose that series. The Cardinals never really had a chance. Like the Rays and Tigers before them, they were just standing in the way of destiny. Whether on land, sea, or air, the Red Sox could not be stopped. (See what I did there?)
Before I get to the natural thing to discuss right after a historic World Series win in Boston (next year, duh) I need to say a few words about Fox’s World Series coverage. (Okay, maybe more than a few words…)
To borrow a quote from a John Green book, Fox’s World Series coverage literally sucked donkey balls. In fact, I’m not sure what would be worse than sucking donkey balls, sucking a dead donkey’s balls maybe, but whatever would be worse, that’s what Fox’s coverage did.
How the hell do you not show the ceremonial first pitches in World Series games? I wanted to see Carl Yastrzemski throw out that pitch a hell of a lot more than I wanted to see Joe Buck’s face with his lips moving. Seeing the 2004 Red Sox throw out the first pitch, celebrating the first Red Sox World Series victory since 1918 would have been infinitely more enjoyable than hearing anything to come out of Tim McCarver’s mouth. For Game 6 they honored one of the greatest World Series games ever, the last Game 6 at Fenway Park and had Luis Tiant and Carlton Fisk throw out the first pitch (either one to the other or both together, I don’t know because I COULDN’T WATCH IT) and they couldn’t even show that. Nor did they show the Dropkick Murphy’s play after they sang the National Anthem before Game 6. Frankly, if I had to choose only one, I’d rather have seen them rock the park than sing the National Anthem.
So, if anyone intelligent at Fox is listening, and I’m not sure such a person exists, we don’t give a damn about all the ads you aired for your fall shows. Show a few less and give some more time to the actual festivities surrounding the games that the fans of the involved teams care about. We get it Fox. Sleepy Hollow is a great show, one of the best of the new season. I know you probably don’t understand what it means to have a hit as most of your shows are canceled after one season, but you got one. And I can’t wait for Almost Human even though I know there is a 99% chance you’ll cancel it after the first season. Stop beating a dead horse. Stop running the ads every five damn minutes. Everyone already saw them a hundred times during the ALDS. On the three hundredth viewing, someone isn’t going to say, “The first two hundred ninety-nine ads didn’t do it for me, but now I just have to watch this show.”
Maybe all the money they put into advertising their own shows is why their pre game analyst team was Jimmy Rollins, Harold Reynolds, and AJ Pierzynski. They weren’t terrible, but clearly Fox is the B team when ESPN has analysts like Orel Hershiser, John Kruk, and Curt Schilling. Just as possible examples, couldn’t they have gotten Terry Francona or Ozzie Smith, guys actually associated with the involved teams? That’s just the first two names to pop into my head. Not much baseball being played, I’m sure they would have found someone better than they did.
And as for the actual game broadcast, Joe Buck does a fine job, but I can no longer bear to listen to McCarver speak. Here’s an idea. Why don’t you get Buck to do the game with the color commentators from the teams playing in the series? (Admittedly, Jerry Remy was not available this year.) No one in broadcasting would know the teams better than their own guys would.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Fox did make sure to show the Mariano Rivera tribute, which most people in Boston couldn’t give two shits about (I wouldn’t even give one shit about it for that matter). I doubt a lot of Cardinals fans would care either.
As usual, even without them playing in the series, Fox is still giving the Yankees a virtual blowjob as they have been doing for years. Maybe it’s because Fox wishes that they were the Y.E.S. Network instead of the annoying cousin that the major networks don’t invite to family parties? I don’t know, but what can you expect from a company that includes Fox News?
Going into 2014 the Red Sox only have a few major contract issues, but they are pretty big ones. I’m going by info I found online, so I might have some of this contract information wrong.
It seems that most of the core team is under contract for 2014, though a number are arbitration eligible. The Red Sox have avoided arbitration for a long time, so presumably this is not a major problem. If that is correct, then it looks like they have only five major free agents.
Joel Hanrahan has likely been made expendable by Koji Uehara, so he will presumably be gone, not that he was ever really here. He would certainly be too expensive to keep as a set up man even for one year to become the closer after next season when Uehara’s contract is up. Though I think it would be worth considering. As absolutely amazing as Uehara was this year, I have to worry a bit going into next year. He’s 38 years old. I had no idea he was that old until it was mentioned on air a month or so ago. Historically closers are more likely to play effectively into their forties than players at other positions. So, the question has to be asked. Can he do it again? He’s never been this good in the past. I think you have to go into the year planning that he will be what he was this year, but Andrew Bailey is one of the arbitration eligible players. I would think having been out most of the year, they would be able to keep him at far less than they would have to pay Hanrahan. He won’t be a free agent until 2015. That to me is the most likely option to hedge their bets if Uehara struggles.
Stephen Drew will also be gone most likely, as I believe that Xander “The X Man” Bogaerts will take up his place at shortstop, hopefully for a long time. I think he’s earned his shot, but who knows what the Red Sox think, though to me the trading of Jose Iglesias wouldn’t have happened if they didn’t think Bogaerts was ready. This is of course presuming that the Red Sox do not make him a third baseman and give up on Will Middlebrooks. I can’t imagine that could be the plan. Despite his struggles, Middlebrooks has huge potential, and for periods of time in the past two seasons has been an offensive machine. I think Drew’s home run in Game 6 was his last for the Red Sox.
That brings us to the important ones.
Mike Napoli’ was diagnosed last winter (I think that was when it happened) with avascular necrosis in both hips. This is the same degenerative hip condition that ended Bo Jackson’s career. Coupled with the lack of suitors prior to last season and his desire to stay in Boston I would think that they would find a way to bring him back.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia is a tough one. He had great season. The problem is he is the youngest free agent catcher available this year. It could be difficult to keep him. David Ross is not an every day catcher at age 36. Ryan Lavarnway has not impressed me at all. They have to have a catcher, so if it’s not Saltalamacchia, they will have to make a trade or sign another free agent. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.
The biggest name is obviously Jacoby Ellsbury. If they want him to stay, I’m afraid it will be expensive, though his injury history might keep his number down a bit. Who am I kidding? Everyone will be throwing money at him. I am basically waiting for the announcement that he has signed elsewhere. I hope he stays, but looking ahead to 2015 may have a lot to say about that.
Right now, the Red Sox rotation for next year would seem likely to be Lester, Lackey, Buchholz, Peavy, and Doubront. That leaves Dempster out, but we don’t know how long Buchholz will need to recover from his injury, so I am pretty sure they will keep him around. After the 2014 season, Lester, Lackey, and Dempster will all be free agents. I’m not sure how they resign both Lester and Lackey, though Lackey will be 36 years old, and might be more reasonably priced. Not to mention that Jonny Gomes and David Ortiz will also be free agents. Retirement would not be out of the question for Ortiz, who will be 38 at the end of next season (though I hope not). Either way, in addition to Lackey and Lester, you’re going to have to pay for someone to be the centerpiece of the offense.
All of that adds up to making it really hard to imagine Ellsbury coming back next year. I really hope I’m wrong. As long as he doesn’t go to the Yankees, then good luck to him. If he ends up a Yankee, then like Johnny Damon before him, he will be forever branded a traitor, and shall be treated as such when he returns to Fenway in the uniform of our greatest enemy.
It’s going to be a very long off season.
Well, that about does it. Congratulations to the 2013 World Champion Boston Red Sox and to all of Red Sox Nation. Go Sox. Boston Strong.
Thanks for reading!