The Boston Red Sox will host the first two games of the 2013 World Series starting Wednesday night against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Now, that is a sentence no one in their right mind would have even dreamt about a year ago.
After one of the most dysfunctional seasons in team history in 2012, the Sox are the last American League team standing in 2013.
Picked by many to finish last in a revamped AL East, Boston lead nearly wire-to-wire. They did not just win the division, they took it by five-and-a-half games.
Their 97 wins tied for the best record in baseball—with those Cardinals—and was their highest win total since 2004.
How did they do it? How could so many here in New England and in the baseball world been so wrong about the Sox?
2013 turned in to an impossible dream season. Wait, we have used that one already. Lets see…90-loss team comes out of nowhere, wins AL and faces the Cardinals in the World Series. New England spends a week with Tim McCarver and a broadcaster named Buck on the radio.
Welcome to 1967.
The similarities, however, among those two seasons goes beyond that.
In 1967, Boston was quickly becoming a hockey town. The Bruins drafted some kid named Bobby Orr and the Sox averaged fewer than 10,000 a game in 1966 at Fenway.
In 2013, the Bruins made their second Stanley Cup final with a young and exciting core of player who play and hit hard. Although the 2012 Red Sox claimed to top 3 million at the gate, only a masochist or a New York Yankees fan could have enjoyed it.
Thomas Yawkey, legendary owner of the Sox, wanted out of old Fenway. He was looking for a new domed stadium to share with the Boston Patriots in South Boston—or move the team to San Diego. Yes, the one in California.
John Henry and Tom Werner spent millions to redo Fenway Park, but were distracted the last couple years with their other cub, Liverpool of the English Premier League and how to run it.
After ’66, Yawkey brought in fiery manager Dick Williams to turn around the Red Sox. In ’12, Henry and company brought in old-shoe John Farrell to do the same thing.
The ’67 Sox improved their record by 20 games. This year’s squad improved by 28.
And, no one is talking about a move to San Diego.
The front office knew they had to reconstruct the team so it could build off each other’s successes and not get down on each other’s failures.
As in 1967, 2013 has been a magnificent success. A season of unexpected triumphs and unspeakable tragedies.
The World Series starts in the same yard Wednesday night that it did in ’67 and shifts to the same parking lot in St. Louis that was there 46 seasons ago.
One gets the sense that a loss—like 1967—would not be considered a bitter disappointment this time around. The achievement was getting there.
If the Boston Red Sox win their eighth world championship—1967’s hero Carl Yastzremski’s old number—then no one outside those masochists and Yankees’ fans will be disappointed either.
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