Monday, October 29, 2007

10-29-07: World Series Champions

It doesn’t really feel quite the same as last time, but I’ll take it. My only real wish is that Joanna could have been watching with me, but oh well. It’s still a great moment to see your team come through. However, I try not to use terms like “we did it” or refer to the team as “us.” I only do that to refer to other fans. It’s just weird to think you had an effect on the outcome of a game or a season. The fan base helps, but the team still has to win.

There are three things about this team that I like better than the 2004 team, but that doesn’t take away from the 2004 team’s performance. Breaking the curse was huge. It was the doorway into a new era of Red Sox fans. That’s a lot for a group of self-proclaimed idiots to accomplish.

The first is the youth. Players like Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Clay Buccholz, each had significant roles at one point or the other this year. That’s special. The veterans are still the anchor of the team, which is why I like Mike Lowell. He’s a great player and a great person. But having talented, young players is really nice. It gives you a sense of additional hope.

The second is the pitching. This year was something really special, both so far as starting and relief pitching. Despite injuries to guys like Brendan Donnelly, the staff came through. Look at how big a story Hideki Okajima became. He was just a whisper during Spring Training. Now, in his first year coming from Japan, he’s an All-Star and a solid anchor in the World Series Champions’ bullpen. Just amazing. Then you have magical performances by guys like Buccholz with his no-hitter, Lester with his comeback from cancer, and Curt Schilling with his near no-hitter in Oakland.

The final thing is the confidence and trust. Terry Francona deserves all the credit for what the team accomplished. What if he listened to the critics and benched Pedroia after his poor April? He’s a leading candidate for Rookie of the Year! What if he had sat Drew during more after his poor stretch? Look at his post-season! Sure, guys like Gagne didn’t quite work out, but who could’ve seen that coming? It’s nice to see a little flash of old-fashioned trust in your team. To think the Red Sox came back to win it all after tanking at the end of last season is surreal. It’s just a great feeling.

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