Red Sox: Worst-to-First

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What is the secret recipe for taking a 69 – 93 record team to a 95 – 62?

The Red Sox just clinched the American League East Division for the first time since  2007, after having the worst season since 1994. How is it that they went from the  worst team to the best in such a difficult division? Well, there may be more than one  secret ingredient.

The Red Sox began the 2013 season with their third manager in three years. Increasing problems in the clubhouse led to Terry Francona’s dismissal after the 2011 season. A short run with Bobby Valentine in 2012 brought the Sox to their worst season in 18 years. After a painful season, the Red Sox finally hired John Farrell. Farrell was the former Boston pitching coach and manager of the Toronto Blue Rays; ironically, the team the Sox beat to finally clinch the division. He has delivered more than just a winning season.  Farrell has somehow helped bring back team unity and a genuine love for the game of baseball.

In such a long-season sport it is essential to have players who are devoted to the game and to each other. And with the tight reign of Farrell, some of the distractions were removed from the clubhouse giving room for two veterans to step up and try to bring back the Red Sox legacy. Both World Series winners Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz, Big Papi, stepped up to the plate this year to help set standards and join the team together. Pedroia batted .301 with nine homeruns, 83 RBI, 87 runs, 186 hits and 17 stolen bases. Ortiz contributed his usual .308 average with 28 homers, 97 RBI, 78 runs, and 152 hits.

Not only are Pedroia and Big Papi leading the team stats wise, but also in regard to team camaraderie. They seemed to have been able to move from the political, media and money business of baseball and back to the original play for the love of the game attitude. Their hard work ethics, determination and loyalty have brought new life to the Sox dugout. The enthusiasm and passion to succeed is evident to all who watch them play and interact with one another.

It also probably helped that there were a lot of new faces on the roster this season. Koji Uehara or better known as “The Ninja” has held onto and finished many games. People claim that he has a “sixth sense” and can sense what pitch the batter is expecting. Other key players include Jonny Gomes, Mike Napoli, Mike Carp, and Shane Victorino.

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One of the most noticeable additions to the Red Sox team is “the Beard”. The fun little inside jokes has had a huge impact. They have an entire portion of their site dedicated to #getbeard where fans can upload their picture and frame it in their favorite player’s beard silhouette. This is a creative way to connect the players to their fans. Not to mention that the players sometimes appear to enjoy pulling each other beards rather than giving high-fives.

The question now is whether the experience the two veterans along with the skills of the new team additions under new management have what it takes to win the World Series.

 

Sources:

http://boston.redsox.mlb.com/bos/social/virtual_beard.jsp

http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/gallery/why-boston-red-sox-made-playoffs-dustin-pedroia-david-ortiz-koji-uehara-john-farrell-091913#photo-title=AL+East+champions%2521&photo=31912050

 

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