Thursday, December 5, 2013
If the 2013 Boston Red Sox could find a clown car to share, you know they would. After watching this team play for close to six months, it's obvious they like each other. That's one of the reasons we love them.
I haven't had this much fun watching a Red Sox season unfold since 1986. We all know that season ended badly. Twenty-seven years later, I'm convinced Mookie Wilson, Bill Buckner and everything that happened in the bottom of the 10th inning of Game 6 of the '86 World Series stunted my growth.
But the journey to that miserable October inning was a blast. I was too young to remember 1975, and my memories of the 1978 collapse are fragments. The '86 run, though, was my first pennant chase, and it was glorious. One of the things that made it great was, it was a complete surprise, like this season.
In 1985, the Red Sox went 81-81, and that's the definition of mediocre. Nobody had high expectations for 1986. Nobody expected Roger Clemens to become the best pitcher in baseball. Nobody expected Bruce Hurst to make the jump from average to one of the best lefties in the American League.
The 1986 Red Sox featured a pair of Hall of Famers, Jim Rice and Wade Boggs, and Clemens may yet get to Cooperstown. The team also had a few members of the Hall of Pretty Good, notably Dwight Evans, Don Baylor and Buckner. Clemens won the Cy Young and Most Valuable Player that season, and Rice finished third in the MVP race.
What did we expect coming into this season, 85 wins, maybe 86? The goals were small. Contend for a wild card spot. Improve. Play hard.
The 2013 Red Sox may win a Gold Glove or two, and John Farrell has to be considered for American League Manager of the Year, but that's about it. No member of this Boston team will finish in the top three for either American League MVP or Cy Young. Clay Buchholz had a shot at the Cy Young, before missing almost half the season with a neck injury.
Instead of latching on to one player and letting him carry the team into the postseason, this season's Red Sox are full of players who have come up big. Mike Carp has as many clutch moments as Jacoby Ellsbury. Mike Carp!
Entering Saturday's game, no Red Sox players had 30 home runs or 100 runs batted in. The team does lead the league in series won, games won in the last at-bat and awesome beards. All that leads to winning the division with slightly more than a week to play in the regular season.
Since Aug. 18, the night Ryan Dempster did baseball's dirty work and plunked Alex Rodriguez, the Red Sox have gone 21-8. You remember, that was the night New York Yankees fans told the world that Dempster had awoken the sleeping giant. Wasn't that cute?
As fun as this season is, 2012 was deplorable. The 2012 season was lost before a game was played.
Bobby Valentine is a human head cold. He was a creep of a manager in charge of a creep of a team. The 2012 Red Sox were less likable than rabies. It's not that they lost, it's that they lost and didn't seem to care.
Those guys are gone, replaced by the bearded band of rogues who clinched the American League East on Friday.
The 2013 season has been the most fun Red Sox regular season in 27 years. You know the best part? It doesn't end next Sunday in Baltimore.
Travis Lazarczyk -- 861-9242