Friday, November 01, 2013

People to Thank for the Red Sox World Series

Time to go to Hallmark and get some thank-you cards for a lot of people who made this World Series Championship possible. Here are the people who you should send your cards to...

1. The Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers took all of the Red Sox' baggage. The Sox had a bad kidney (Gonzalez), infected tonsils (Crawford), and an appendix about to burst (Beckett), and the Dodgers accepted all of them. Then the Dodgers paid for most of the surgery. The Dodgers deserve their own duckboat in Saturday's parade for taking all of this payroll and malignant personality off of the Red Sox roster.

2. The Red Sox owners
The owners did the best thing that owners can do: delegate. Bob Kraft didn't become a good owner until he eased up and delegated. The Red Sox owners were good when they let Theo Epstein do his job, then they became overbearing, they then pulled back in response to the failures of the 2012 season. The best thing the Red Sox owners did in 2013 was what they didn't do.

3. Koji Uehara
Where would this team be if Uehara didn't emerge as one of the best closers in the game? Bailey and Hanrahan got hurt. Uehara filled a role that had been vacant since Papelbon was allowed to leave. And Uehara filled that role's brains out.

4. Ben Cherington
The Red Sox GM didn't go nuts, he didn't try to sign any "wow" free agents. He acquired guys who were hungry to win. Savvy ballplayers who knew how to do the little things. He didn't care that Stephen Drew was related to J.D. Drew. He signed Mike Napoli, who was starving for a ring. He made many small moves that combined to make a big difference.

The timing was right as there really weren't many big name free agents on the market anyway.

5. John Lackey
This guy pitched his ass off. He got no run support all season long. We all hated him. Many wanted him to be traded. He's a 35-year-old recovering from surgery, he pitched 189.1 innings in the regular season then 26 more in the postseason (including 1 in relief). And he still argued with Farrell to get just one more out in Game 6. He went from slacker to gamer. Lackey's hunger in 2013 (for doing well, not for beer and chicken) was a key part to the hunger this team had.

And again, give thanks to the Dodgers for not wanting to take this guy from us.

6. John Farrell
His in-game decisions weren't always correct. But trading for John Farrell was an important part to this team's success. He didn't try to discipline the players, he tried to make them more self-disciplined. He got the pitching staff to refocus, and he brought with him an attitude geared toward winning. Most importantly, he didn't put his own ego ahead of anything. If he made a mistake, he learned from it and made different moves. Pride is not one of John Farrell's faults.

7. J.J. Hardy, Jason Kipnis, Jose Bautista
I can't say I remember the All-Star Game. But these three guys all knocked in runs for the AL team. And that's why the Sox had homefield advantage in the World Series. Thanks, guys!

8. Pedroia, Lester, Ellsbury, all the rest of the players
The players who were here in 2011 and 2012 became reinvigorated. And the guys who weren't here brought a fresh energy. All the players, from Pedroia to Lester to Victorino to Bogaerts to Workman to Tazawa. They all gave 100%. Which you sadly could not say about the 2011 or 2012 Sox.

8. The Fans
Yes you. Your outrage over this team's failure in 2012 caused so much to change. In 2011, we weren't as angry as we should have been. And the owners thought they could use Francona as a scapegoat and we'd be happy with his dismissal. We were complacent for a time, until the team failed again in 2012. And the horrible managing of Bobby Valentine became evident.

We as fans actually accepted Bobby V. That's kind of sad. He was shit. Once the fans demanded that he be banished, along with all the other cancerous players and contracts, that's when things turned around. We threatened a revolution in Red Sox Nation and the front office responded.

So pat yourself on the back for being pissed about the 2012 season, then also ask yourself why you didn't start that season with the same skepticism.

Hopefully in 2014 Ben Cherington can continue to do his job, and the front office won't inflate attendance figures. Marketing people can market the team, and baseball people can assemble it, and baseball players can play baseball.