Column: The team Boston needs
Published: Monday, October 21, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 21, 2013 22:10
I think a sports team needs to reflect the qualities of the city or region that it represents.
In New York, the Yankees do a good job of this. A white-collar city known for Wall Street, Broadway and Will McAvoy, the Yankees stick to strict policies about appearance. Players are clean-shaven, hair is short and tattoos are covered up. Everything is done in a professional manner; every game is like going to a meeting on the 2,000th floor of Trump Tower.
Boston, on the other hand, is a blue-collar, boisterous city whose residents are not afraid of a scrap.
Why wouldn’t the baseball team be made up of a bunch of dudes in baggy uniforms with beards that make Hagrid look like he never hit puberty and hair so greasy that one rub would open the broken door to my apartment?
I have heard a lot of people outside Red Sox Nation complain about the look portrayed by the Red Sox. “They look like a bunch of bums,” one person told me. “They need to trim their beards and button their jerseys more.”
I disagree. Boston is an old-time city. Boston needs an old-time baseball team.
I have been waiting for a season like 2013 for nine years now. In 2004, there was a special energy surrounding the Red Sox. The lovable “idiots,” as they proclaimed themselves, had an identity. They were a scrappy, down in the dirt, rough and tough baseball team. There were stars to be sure, but they didn’t win because they were the most talented team – the Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals were both more talented in my opinion – they won because they had the most chemistry and the most desire.
In 2013, this group of bums has performed what seemed like an impossible task only one year ago. After a miserable 69-win season in 2012 saw the Red Sox finish in last place in the American League East, the front office performed some surgery. They got rid of the cancer, Bobby Valentine and replaced him with a familiar face, John Farrell, a well-respected figure among Red Sox fans.
That was enough to make Red Sox fans excited, but then came the interesting part. In came Mike Napoli, Jonny Gomes, Koji Uehara and David Ross, among others. What could these guys bring to a team that was looking to go from worst to first and beyond in 2013?
Well, in case Red Sox fans forgot over the last nine years, talent doesn’t always correlate into championships. The Red Sox aren’t necessarily the most talented team in the American League, but they are the best team in the American League.
They play with heart. They play for each other. And they play for the city of Boston.
That last point might be the most important thing to come out of the 2013 season.
On April 15, there was already a buzz about the Red Sox, who started turning heads with their dominant performances early in the season. Patriots Day brought another crazy victory for the Red Sox, but the joy was short lived, as joy turned to grief, pain and anger.
The Boston Marathon changed everything.
Since that day, a jersey has hung in Boston dugout that says “Boston Strong” with the number 617, the area code for the Boston area.
When ALCS Game 6 hero Shane Victorino ran to his teammates to celebrate winning the American League pennant on Saturday, the Flyin’ Hawaiian ran through a design in the outfield with the Red Sox logo over the word “Strong.”
In April, I wrote a column saying that to help recover from the tragedy at the Boston Marathon, the professional teams of Boston would need to step up and lead the charge.
Since that day, the Bruins came within two minutes of forcing a Game 7 in the Stanley Cup Finals and the Red Sox have shown that 2012 was just a fluke.
Okay, the Red Sox have done more than that. The Red Sox have put the entire city on their backs, plowing their way through anyone and everyone who decided to give them a challenge.
The Red Sox were up against a wall twice in the ALCS. Twice, a grand slam saved them and lifted a city.
And now, a city that needs a championship is four wins away from reminding the world that no one parties like Boston after a championship.
Follow Tim on Twitter @Tim_Fontenault