If you predicted at the end of last baseball season that the Boston Red Sox would be carrying the World Series trophy out of Fenway Park a season later, then you are either one of the smartest people in sports, or you are simply kidding yourself. This team pulled off one of the most unlikely runs that the MLB has ever seen, literally going from worst to first over the course of a single season.
The past two seasons were misery for the Boston Red Sox. The last season of a brilliant run as manager of the club ended horribly for Terry Francona as the team failed to make the postseason losing to the Baltimore Orioles in devastating fashion. Then the rumors of beer and chicken in the clubhouse started to swirl, leaving the Red Sox as a punch line for many jokes to come.
The team was looking for a new identity, and Bobby Valentine was hired as the new manager. It was a controversial hire to begin with, and the marriage was off to a rocky start right from spring training as Valentine’s personality and coaching style were too different than what the team had been used to with Francona at the helm. Valentine made controversial comments about his club and the relationship was damaged with no hope for repair.
So the team brought in a man who new the “Red Sox way” because he had been a coach there for many seasons. John Farrell left the Toronto Blue Jays and was put to test to try to rebuild this Red Sox team that was predicted to finish last in their division.
The team also added some key pieces to their core players who were David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, and Clay Buchholz.
Outfielder Shane Victorino was added in a somewhat controversial signing because many people thought that he was on the decline and could not hit like he did during the prime of his career when he was with the Philadelphia Phillies. The team was looking for speed as well as an outfielder that was capable of playing multiple positions, and that could cover a lot of ground. Victorino proved his critics wrong and contributed with the bat throughout the regular season as well as coming up with clutch hit after clutch hit throughout the team’s postseason run.
Another piece that was added was utility man Jonny Gomes. Gomes never blows you away with his talent, and has been somewhat of a journey man throughout his career, but there is one key element that all the teams that he has been on possesses. This is that they all were factors come the postseason. So here you bring in a veteran who has been to the postseason on numerous occasions before, and know what it feels like to win. Gomes also contributed with his bat as he shifted the momentum of the series towards the Red Sox’s favor with a clutch home run in Game #4.
Another piece that was added was first baseman Mike Napoli who had also tasted postseason success as he led the Texas Rangers to the World Series two seasons prior. Napoli has always been known for his bat, and the question was if he would be comfortable with the move from catcher to first base. Napoli proved his versatility as he was reliable at the first base position and contributed with key hits throughout the postseason.
But the biggest piece that was added was the man who shut the door on so many Red Sox victories, and that man is closer Koji Uehara. Uehara really came out of nowhere for this team who definitely did not expect him to be the closer during a World Series run. The closer job was one of the key question marks for this team as they struggled last season closing out games, and nobody was able to step up and secure that job.
Throughout the regular season it was clear that the atmosphere had changed around this club and that they had completely bought in to Farrell and his coaching style. The team was consistent on he field, but some of the real stories came off of the field.
The Boston Marathon bombings took place at the start of the season, and the Red Sox dedicated their season to the victims. Player after player stated that the city was inspiration for them and that they would stay “Boston Strong” throughout the whole season.
The team’s personalities were also very prevalent as they became the Band of Bearded Brothers as Jonny Gomes started a form of unity when he decided not to shave during Spring Training.
So there you have it. All of the perfect pieces were set for this team to make such a drastic run to win the World Series. The core players proved that they were still capable to be leaders of this team and contribute at a high level on the field. All of the players that they added in the offseason meshed perfectly. The team had an incredible source of inspiration as the city stayed strong throughout the horrific events that took place at the Boston Marathon. Also, the brotherhood was formed with the theme of the beards as the team was really a close-knit group throughout the duration of the season.
So is it really impossible to go from worst to first in the matter of a single season? The Boston Red Sox proved that it is not as they showed everyone what a World Series champion looked like winning one of the more entertaining and unique World Series that the league has ever witnessed.