On Tuesday night, the Boston Red Sox continued their “Road to Redemption” with a come-from-behind 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 4 of the American League Division Series. The win puts the Red Sox in the American League Championship series for the fourth time in 11 seasons.
One year ago, the notion that the Red Sox would be in this position would be viewed as far-fetched, and for good reason. A 69-win dysfunctional assembly of divas and malcontents seemed destined for a long ascent back to the top of the American League. But through a career renaissance (John Lackey) and the acquisition of team-oriented, moderately talented veterans (Napoli, Victorino, Gomes, Ross, Dempster) the Red Sox are in the exact position the 2011 team was supposed to be.
Now that Boston is in the ALCS again, one would think that players and fans would look at this season as a success. But for those that have weathered the storm of decades of disappointment and the franchise’s fist World Series title in 2004, having the team in the championship series again is not enough. True their path to date has been electrifying and satisfying; but given the looks on the players’ faces, winning the World Series is the only goal.
The ability of manager John Farrell to refocus and motivate this team to achieve what they have during the regular season is more than enough to garner the skipper Manager of the Year Award; but after watching Farrell and this team all season it is clear that personal accomplishments mean nothing if the team does not win the final game of this MLB season and claim the Red Sox third World Series title since 2004.
From to p to bottom, this Red Sox roster has weathered adversity and come out better for their struggle. Whether it was a string of difficult injuries or bouts of mid-season inconsistency, the fact that this team kept their chin up and found a way to win nightly shows a measure of character missing from this organization in recent seasons. And from their struggles, new Red Sox heroes emerged. Whether it be the unlikely dominance of their closer (Uehara), or the personal redemption of their struggling third baseman (Middlebrooks), the lack of perceived depth and talent at the start of the season was quickly dismissed, and a more determined bunch of players stepped forth to show the world that they are not going to be denied their status as a legitimate championship threat.
For now Boston must wait to see who their ALCS opponent will be; and at this stage the team could easily be considered favorites to return to the Fall Classic. But as a passionate and superstitious fan of this team for 35 years, I would rather see this team viewed as an underdog rather than a prohibitive favorite. In that element, the true character of a team is best demonstrated, and where the 2013 Boston Red Sox team has thrived all season long. Whether or not the media views this team as a legitimate threat to win the World Series, the players in that Boston dugout still believe that there is work to be done; and the Road to Redemption has only one destination… a world championship.
Founder, Senior Contributor – Banner Day Boston
Host – Banner Day Boston Radio