From worst to first. From a city shut down by a terrorist bombing to a city on top of the world. Boston is stronger than ever. World champions.
After finishing last year in last place, the Red Sox came together this season. They grew their strange beards and bonded as a team. "We got together in spring training and everyone cared about one another so much," second baseman Dustin Pedroia told the crowd last night.
They built strong ties not only with each other, but also with the city, taking a visible and active role in helping to mend it with inspiration and spirit after the Boston Marathon bombing. Pedroia explained last night's victory: "The stuff that happened in this city, we wanted to do something special."
St. Louis is also impressive, and it was not at all clear what the series outcome would be. The Cardinals pulled ahead early, but only by a bit. When Boston lost game three on a controversial obstruction call, Red Sox Nation was stunned and worried. Throughout the series, the pitchers of the two teams were both so extraordinary that many innings of most of the games saw no real action (apart from 90 mile per hour fastballs whizzing by).
But, while most of the series was a nail-biter, last night seemed easier. The depth of the Red Sox bench was on display: With St. Louis' pitchers intentionally walking series MVP David Ortiz, the rest of the team's strong players stepped up to the plate, took a whopping 3-0 early lead and delivered a resounding victory, clinching the championship.
Oh, to have been in Fenway last night. For loyal Boston fans, it was almost 100 years coming; the last World Series victory at Fenway was in 1918. My sons take a Red Sox victory for granted, given 2004 and 2007. But not my generation. Red Sox Nation is a tight-knit, loyal clan, but not always the luckiest.
For decades, we were plagued by the curse of the Bambino. When I was a kid, my parents let my siblings and me name the pet cat. We chose "Yaz" for Carl Yastrzemski, who played his entire all-star baseball career for the Red Sox in the 1960s and 70s. We didn't expect to win, but we loved our team and our players. And we loved our gritty city: "Love That Dirty Water," the Standells' refrain, blasts across Fenway after every victory, and fans sang it loud as it played late last night.
Well done, Red Sox. You offered unity and delivered a beautiful victory to a city that needed to be brought together and lifted up. Catcher David Ross told reporters after the victory, "This was bigger than a baseball team, an organization. The city brought passion, character." And left fielder Johnny Gomes added, "I don't think a win-loss record sums up how much we care about this city." During the ceremony, upon claiming his MVP trophy, David Ortiz said, "This is for you, Boston."
Thank you, Red Sox.
Boston is, indeed, Strong.