The improbable worst-to-first Boston Red Sox confounded all the experts (and many of their fan) right to the end by winning the World Series last night four games to two over the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Red Sox were world champions in 2004 and 2007, but on this occasion they clinched at home, the first time since 1918.
David Ortiz was named the MVP, but the entire roster could have been named co-MVPs as they all contributed to the title in terms of offense, defense, and pitching. The unified 2013 squad apparently forged a strong chemistry which lead to many clutch performances.
After a disastrous 69-win season in 2012 under Bobby Valentine, most of the sports pundits predicted that the Sox would be a.500 team at best under new manager John Farrell, and finish well behind the projected first place Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East.
It turned out the Sox maintained their hold on first place the AL East for virtually the entire six-month marathon, finishing the regular season with 97 wins (108 overall). Perhaps Red Sox management created a new model for MLB away from signing expensive (and often underperforming) free agents and in favor of role players who will fit more seamlessly with the existing core of the team.
Moreover, was there ever worse set of predictions put forth by the sports media for the MLB playoffs? According to the so-called experts, David Price and the rest of the Tampa pitching staff would be too much for the Sox to handle. Then the Detrioit Tigers pitching duo of Scherzer and Verlander would dominate Boston. And finally, the Red Sox had no chance against Cardinals Wainwright-Wacha tandem. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
It’s true that other than Ortiz (who batted nearly.700 in the World Series), the Red Sox offense was anemic against these elite pitchers. However, the team slugged some some key hits on the way to victory, including Shane Victorino’s grand slam, Jonny Gomes’ three-run homer, and Victorino again last night with a three-run double. And let’s not forget the Ortiz clutch grand slam against the Tigers which made a Boston cop famous.
The Cardinals had a great season as well, also finishing with 97 victories. That being said, an argument could be made that the Red Sox won the 2013 World Series 6-0. They were on their way to a 2-1 victory in Game 2 when reliever Craig Breslow made a key throwing error, and they lost Game 3 on a highly controversial obstruction call from umpire Jim Joyce, the same official that ruined Armando Galarraga’s perfect game on June 2, 2010, when he blew a call at first base on what should have been the final out of the game. The Red Sox won Game 4 on a equally unprecedented game-ending pick-off play at first base.
According to WEEI.com, the stunning Red Sox turnaround was a byproduct of a restored clubhouse culture:
“Team unity — a laughable notion in the fractious previous two seasons — became palpable among players with a common obsession: Baseball. Players were notably attuned to the game, demonstrating a precise sense of situational baseball in aspects such as baserunning and defense, while embracing the idea that they would play with maximum effort on a nightly basis.”
The Boston Red Sox World Series parade is scheduled for Saturday.