From Worst to First: The Beantown Turnaround

Boston Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli sports a beard as he stands in the infield during a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, in Baltimore.

It was a year ago, almost to the day. I’m warming up on an elliptical at the gym on ESPN campus. Just as I’m about to get off, Terry Francona hops on the one next to me. Needless to say, I stayed on. For a minute or two we didn’t speak, both of us watching Baseball Tonight on the TV in front of us. Curt Schilling was on, and per usual, fired up about something. “Man, Schill never has an opinion” Tito said to me sarcastically. “Yeah, I’m sure you really had a difficult time getting his thoughts” I chuckled back. We talked for the next 10 minutes or so, both about the disaster that was the Red Sox 2012 campaign, and other topics around baseball. Half of it I don’t remember, mainly because as a lifelong Sox fan, I couldn’t believe I was working out with the man who reversed the curse, but I know we had a great conversation. Towards the end I asked him a loaded question: “So, how long before they bring John (Farrell) in?” Mind you, Bobby Valentine was still the manager in Boston, and Farrell was still in Toronto. “Within the next week,” he responded, “John wants to be in Boston, he already has the clubhouse. I’ve never seen position players have so much respect for a pitching coach during his time there. Dustin (Pedroia), David (Ortiz), Jacoby (Ellsbury), all those guys love John, no question can turn that team around. They will figure out a way to get it done.”

Two days later Tito was hired in Cleveland, turned the Indians from a 68-94 team to a playoff team, and is a front-runner for AL Manager of the Year. Two weeks later (Tito was a week off), John Farrell was hired as the Red Sox manager from the Blue Jays. He took over a 93-loss team, the worst since 1965, and led them to 97 wins, tied for most in all of baseball. Coincidentally, he’ll compete with his former boss for that Manager of the Year award.

Over the course of this blog we’ll dig into every aspect surrounding not only this team, but the organization as a whole. We’ll discuss everything from clutch hits and pitching match-ups, to front office moves, to which bar is our favorite go-to at Fenway (I’m partial to Bleacher Bar before, Lansdowne after). It’s an open forum to get our thoughts out here and discuss whatever is on our minds, and we have plenty to talk about.

We’ve had enormous amounts of history with this team. From Fisk willing his HR fair in the bottom of the 12th in Game 6, to Ted’s return to Fenway for the All-Star Game, to “The Steal” by Dave Roberts. As the Red Sox gear up for the 2013 MLB Playoffs, they’ll look to add to that history with their 3rd World Series title in the past decade. They have the bats, they have the pitching, and now, they have the manager.

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