“Nobody in here is wearing the … World Series champ shirts, you don’t even see anything like that in here. Forget that.” – Jonny Gomes
The 2014 Red Sox seem perfectly content moving on, not forgetting their miraculous run to a World Series title, but putting it aside to savor at a later date.
I wish I could do the same.
In 2013, the Red Sox won 97 games and and the American League East. In the ALDS, they outpitched the Rays who produce quality young arms in their sleep. The Tigers, despite stifling Red Sox bats for the majority of six games, couldn’t capture the American League crown. Boston was too timely, too clutch. They beat the Tigers with good starting pitching, big hits in big spots, and a bullpen that flexed its muscle all series long. The Fall Classic was a wild series between two of baseball’s powerhouses. In the end, David Ortiz and Jon Lester were too much for the St. Louis Cardinals. The two former champions smothered the birds on the mound and at the plate, proving that the best that the Cards had to offer simply could not match up with the weapons the Red Sox possessed.
And I still can’t believe it. I can’t. I’ve written about how good this team was, how their World Series title was not a uniquely a product of a collection of good breaks along the way. So why can’t I do what Jonny Gomes and the rest of the team — you know, the guys who actually won the damn thing and didn’t just sit on their couch in their apartment in Worcester — are doing?
“It’s no different this spring. It’s not highlight and delete, but our motto is: Turn the (expletive) page.”
It’s fair to say I didn’t see this coming. For me, the 2004 World Series was the most important. It was absolutely vital. Three years later, they did it again, and it was the most fun. I went to my first playoff game that fall. I was in college. It was great. Last season, 2013, was the most unlikely. I simply didn’t see it coming.
Before the season, a co-worker, friend, or family member would casually ask how I thought the team would perform during the summer. My response was simple — I said I would happy if the Red Sox were playing meaningful games in September. I meant it, too. After 2012, I was desperate to watch baseball games that mattered after Labor Day. With two Wild Card spots available and a team that looked like it would be competitive in a difficult division, I believed that contending for a playoff spot in the final week or days of the season was certainly an attainable goal. And then they paid a visit to the talent-laden Dodgers.
The Red Sox left Los Angeles on August 25 after winning the three-game series. They had a one-game lead in the division, and a nine-game home stand at Fenway Park. By the time it was complete and the club landed in New York on September 4, they had a 5.5-game lead in the division. Boston never looked back, building as much as a 9.5-game lead in the AL East. They were a wagon in September, going 16-9 en route to a 97-65 record–good for tops in the American League. The Red Sox played meaningful games in August, September, and throughout October. They met, exceeded, and annihilated my expectations. I still can’t believe it. I still can’t let go.
But I sure am proud.