The Boston Red Sox had an awful rough patch from 2011-2012 that lead to their memorable 2013 World Series winning season.
The 2013 Red Sox are widely regarded as one of the most important teams in the history of Boston sports. Following the horrific tragedy at the Boston Marathon in April, David Ortiz delivered a fiery speech that helped the city rally around their baseball team. The Red Sox went on to win 95 games in the regular season and put together a memorable playoff run that fittingly ended with them celebrating a World Series victory at Fenway Park.
To get to the point where that Red Sox team was able to do what they did following such a blow to their city, a lot needed to happen in the two years prior. The 2011 and 2012 seasons were dark times in what has otherwise been an incredibly successful run since the turn of the 21st century. As rough as the experience was at the time, the events that transpired in those seasons helped make 2013 special.
2011 marked the end of the Terry Francona era, and it truly could not have concluded in a more bitter way. The Red Sox were leading the AL East at the beginning of September but would go just 6-20 during that month to finish third in the division, seven games behind the Tampa Bay Rays. There were some ridiculous stories that detailed what went on in the clubhouse following the season.
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Francona reportedly dealt with personal issues during the season, which was compounded by the fact that their big-name pitchers got lazy. Josh Beckett, Jon Lester and John Lackey would eat chicken and drink beer in the clubhouse while their teammates were out on the field. Many other players also experienced discontent and a lack of interest as the team fell apart. A clubhouse divided lead to Francona and the Red Sox parting ways after the season ended.
When fans thought it couldn’t get any worse than the embarrassing events of the 2011 season, Bobby Valentine was hired as Francona’s replacement. Prior to joining the Red Sox, Valentine hadn’t managed a team in the majors since 2002. It certainly showed, as the Red Sox went 69-93 and the infighting didn’t go away in his first and only season with the team.
In 2013, the Red Sox looked quite different. Some obvious players from the two years prior remained, but gone were the big-money players who failed to meet expectations, such as Adrian Gonzalez or Carl Crawford. They acquired glue guys who played hard such as Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes among others. As it would turn out, that was exactly what they needed.
A team that on paper didn’t exactly consist of world-beaters was able to come together in one of the city’s darkest hours and, at least for some, brought a sense of joy back into the fold. It truly is one of the most incredible stories in sports.