Before we look ahead, lets look back one last time at the 2013 Red Sox.
The Red Sox won the World Series last season. Let that sink in for a minute.
After a 69-win disaster under Bobby Valentine in 2012, the Sox pulled off a worst to first deal last season. It is still incredible to believe.
Winning a championship in sports in the modern era is extremely difficult. Being the best team in talent isn’t enough anymore.
You must have the right mix of players for good chemistry. You have to have the right leader at the right time. Players must produce at optimum levels AND fit in. Stars need to play like stars. You have to stay injury free.
So much has to go right. And it all did for the Sox last season.
It started in the early spring when the team embraced manager John Farrell as the man to rescue them from the chaos and unhappiness of 2012. Farrell always had a reputation for commanding a room and he did it on day one of spring training and never wavered from it.
The bullpen wasn’t as lucky, with season ending injuries to closers Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey. But when Farrell turned to Koji Uehara he came from nowhere to suddenly become unhittable and a cult hero.
Players thought to be marginal upgrades last off season like Shane Victorino, Jonny Gomes and Mike Napoli, ended up as key pieces in the championship run. All of their production was lights out and clutch. And they turned out to be just what a damaged clubhouse needed as leaders with a fresh voice and approach.
Dustin Pedroia played with a torn thumb ligament from game one of the season but the drop off was minimal.
In the playoffs, the stars and experienced veterans did what they do.
David Ortiz was scalding all postseason. Opposing pitchers could not get him out.
Catcher David Ross took command of the pitching staff with his game calling and defense.
Napoli and Victorino, guys who had been clutch postseason performers in other places, again rose to the occasion.
Gomes showed that his ability to succeed in key spots matched his desire to win his first World Series.
Roll all that together and you wind up with the magical run the Sox went on last season. A run that started under the cloud of the tragedy last April at the Boston Marathon. The team’s improbable run to the championship ended up galvanizing a city that really needed it.
No one has any idea if the Sox can repeat in 2014. It isn’t likely everything will go right once again. There will be a new set of challenges.
That’s why you should stop and look back one last time on what this team accomplished last season. It was a truly remarkable run that should be savored. No Red Sox fan should or will ever forget it. Now on to 2014!