Young Boston Red Sox fans will never fully understand the heartache that consumed fans of their favorite team for nearly a century. For 86 years, the Curse of the Bambino haunted Beantown until the Sox won the crown in 2004 and then followed that up with another title in 2007 just for good measure. Since then, the Red Sox have competed for a playoff spot in just about every year except 2012.
What a year that was. Rumors of John Lackey‘s frequent clubhouse consumption of fried chicken and beer underscored the tension and dysfunction that characterized the 2012 club. Not only did Lackey sit out the entire season, the Sox entire offense went into free-fall, with David Ortiz being their only hitter with a .300 average or better by the end of the season.
Whether fair or unfair, then-manager Bobby Valentine took the fall for the dreadful performance of that team, and Boston started anew this year, determined to right their wrongs.
They’ve done that and then some. With John Farrell at the helm, Boston has the best record in the American League. Lackey has gone from devouring Popeye’s and tall boys to recapturing his old strength on the mound, posting a 3.52 ERA this season. Moreover, Boston’s massive trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers — a trade in which nine players changed teams — appears to have paid off for both squads, as we will see both in the playoffs this season.
The Red Sox turnaround may not have been as dramatic as that of the Dodgers, but it will have been even more effective if they can pull off a third championship in the past decade. They will be known as the team of bearded heroes whose scrappy play and joy in playing together propelled them to success. That would be a great story indeed.