The Boston Red Sox are World Series Champions.
For the first time since 1918, a year that for so many years was nothing but a punch line, Red Sox fans got to witness the crowning of their team as champions of the baseball world with their very own eyes. Nobody in the crowd had ever seen it in their lifetime.
"Worst to first" will be the coined phrase, but ask any player on this team, any coach, any executive in the front office; they knew they we’re better than their record showed last year. They went out and proved it, completing a remarkable turnaround with a 6-1 victory over St. Louis, capturing their third championship in 10 seasons.
The game was never in doubt. Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha, so dominant in the postseason, finally let the moment get to him. Shane Victorino, always a flare for the dramatics, stepped up with the bases loaded in the third. 38,000 strong all serenading his song "Three Little Birds" by Bob Marley so loud I thought there was a concert in my living room. What was even louder was the echo of the 3-RBI double he blasted off the Green Monster, blowing the game wide open for Boston.
They wouldn’t look back from there. Stephen Drew, who had been cold at the plate all postseason, crushed a solo homer to right to make it 4-0 in the fourth. Napoli and Victorino again popped RBI singles later in the inning to make it 6-0.
I never thought I’d say this in a positive way, but John Lackey was John Lackey. In fact, I may have developed a little bit of a man crush on Lackey tonight. I NEVER thought I would say that. Ever.
He gave up just one earned run over 6 2/3 innings. While his stuff wasn’t great, he worked his way out of jams consistently. It was a gritty performance, one he had to work for, but one he wanted desperately. When John Farrell came to take him out in the 7th, TV cameras caught him saying "This is my guy, this is my guy" to Farrell, showing how badly he wanted to stay in and finish out the inning.
As you can imagine, Big Papi took home the Series MVP. He was a nightmare for the Cardinals, batting .688 over the six games, second best in World Series history. Cardinals pitchers wanted nothing to do with him tonight, walking him four times. Even the walks proved to be costly, turning into two runs scored.
"This is for you, Boston," Papi addressed to the crowd following the game. Of course, he gave one last "This is our bleeping city," censoring the word himself.
It was that proclamation earlier this year after the Boston Marathon bombings that became the rallying cry of this team, of their fans, of a community that had been struck by a devastating tragedy. It fueled the "Boston Strong" motto they carried with them throughout the season, that they cut into the grass of center field for the world to see.
In my mind, no team in baseball history will compare to "The Idiots" of 2004, it was how the season ended the year before. The way they were so resilient against their hated rival, at the height of the rivalry. The way they captured the hearts of fans around the world and brought baseball to the forefront.
But this 2013 team was special. A band of brothers, bound by beards. A group of friends, whose love for the game resonated throughout the organization, into the stands, and through your TV. A core group of guys that dug themselves out of a disastrous collapse in 2011 followed by a 2012 campaign that was nothing short of a nightmare. A bunch of misfits, castaways like Shane Victorino, David Ross, Mike Napoli, and Jonny Gomes that infused a clubhouse with a breath of fresh air and made baseball fun again.
A city void of a championship for so long now has three in the past 10 seasons. It’s difficult to throw that "dynasty" word around, especially given the ups and downs this team has gone through during the past decade, but it’s clear that the Boston Red Sox have set a standard for the rest of baseball to follow. We can explore that down the road, as discussions over the next few days will focus on their success. For now, let’s just sit back and enjoy the journey we’ve just been taken on.
The Red Sox are 2013 World Series Champions.