The Boston Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals 6-1 on Wednesday night before a packed crowd at Fenway Park to win the World Series, their third World Series title in nine years. No other team has won more titles in the last ten years (2004, 2007, and now 2013).
The Red Sox just became the first team in history to go from 93+ losses to World Champions in one year. This is the greatest turnaround of all time. The whole team played great and they richly deserved the title they won. In other words, chemistry was born and the team played well together all year long.
The Red Sox only won 69 games last year. How did they turn it around so fast?
Many Red Sox fans will say that it’s because Bobby Valentine is gone and is no longer the Red Sox manager, but it stems from much more than that.
Credit general manager Ben Cherington for targeting and signing character in almost every move he made over the winter. The first move Cherington made was signing backup catcher David Ross. While this probably generated yawns among the fan base, those that follow the game know that Ross has one of the most infectious personalities in baseball, and is also studious behind the plate.
Not too long after, the pieces started to fall into place. Platoon outfielder Jonny Gomes would come on board, and all his teams do is overachieve every year. It happened again this year, with Gomes becoming a needed leader from just about the day he arrived. Mike Napoli had a contract dispute when some hip problems were first discovered, but it was soon settled and the Red Sox had a first baseman and power hitter.
Many thought that Shane Victorino was on the downside because of one bad year. They were proven wrong, and Cherington was rewarded for taking a chance. Victorino has played superb defense in right field while coming up with big hits all year.
Cherington then went after the right manager. He did his due diligence and interviewed Brad Ausmus, Tony Pena, Tim Wallach and some others, but John Farrell was the guy he wanted all along. Once the Blue Jays decided to free Farrell from his contract, an agreement was made and the teams executed a trade. When Farrell was a pitching coach under Terry Francona from 2007-10, there were plenty of people in Boston’s front office who were convinced he would make a good manager some day. Did he ever, he started pushing all the right buttons from day one.
The Red Sox also benefited from starting pitchers Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and John Lackey. In late June, Farrell decided to give 37-year-old Koji Uehara the keys to the ninth inning. It turned out to be perhaps the best decision he made all season. Uehara has totally dominated hitters the last half of the season and on into the playoffs.
Special mention goes to Big Papi’s bat and leadership throughout the year, but especially during the World Series. David Ortiz’s fingerprints were all over this series, and not just from the powerful home runs that he hit off the Cardinals’ strong-armed pitchers, or that he hit a mind boggling .688 while the rest of his team hit .169. Before the World Series began, Ortiz hosted the entire Red Sox team at his house for a barbecue, his third such party of the postseason. He scored from first on a double in game one. Normally the DH, he played three straight flawless games at first base in St. Louis. And in what should stand as the seminal a defining moment in the Series, he gathered his teammates in the dugout for an impromptu players meeting before the sixth inning of game four with the score tied at one. Ortiz asked of his teammates to make the most of the opportunity that was before them, and they immediately took advantage of the moment. Just minutes later after yet another walk to Ortiz, Gomes hit a three-run homer. This was the turning point of the series. The Red Sox would never trail again in winning games four, five and the deciding game six.
Think about this. The Red Sox have not won the World Series at Fenway since 1918. That was 95 years ago. Television did not exist. World War I was still going on. Woodrow Wilson was the president of the United States. Women were not allowed to vote.
It’s been a long time coming and now all of Red Sox Nation can rejoice.