October 31, 2013

On Baseball: A night for smiles and plenty of hugs

The Red Sox are champions for the third time in 10 years.

BOSTON — Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” blared over the Fenway Park loudspeaker, one of the few sounds that could top an electrified crowd Wednesday night.

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Boston Red Sox players celebrate after defeating the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 of the World Series on Wednesday at Fenway Park in Boston.

Photos by The Associated Press

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Players hugged, posed for pictures with their families and looked so happy and yes, relieved.

They are the champions.

As the celebration continued on the field, third-base coach Brian Butterfield stood away from the crowd in left field with his wife, Jan. Always a picture of concentration during a game, Butterfield just beamed.

“We’re blessed,” he said.

Butterfield, 56, an Orono native who now lives in Standish, had been a coach with the Toronto Blue Jays since 2002 before returning to New England to join Manager John Farrell’s staff.

“Best move of my life,” Butterfield said. “This is the greatest group of guys. We love each other. Everybody worked together.

“Highly competitive. Great group to be around. Always had confidence in this group rebounding after tough losses. They trusted each other.”

These players never got too down or too high.

When Farrell came to Fenway to prepare for Wednesday night’s game, it was another day at the office.

“This is going to sound boring as (heck), but the one thing we have prided ourselves on is to remain focused on our process,” Farrell said. “To attach (meaning) to the result would be backwards of what we’ve done all year.

“We give everything we have every night.”

They followed the process and now they have the result.

The Red Sox tried to produce as much good karma as possible Wednesday night. For the ceremonial first pitch, they brought out the pitcher and catcher from Game 6 of the 1975 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, Luis Tiant and Carlton Fisk.

Tiant starred in that series with Boston winning all three of his starts. Fisk, of course, lofted the home run down the left-field line in the 12th inning of Game 6; his determined waving at the ball to stay fair while he hopped up and down remains one of the iconic scenes in baseball history.

Boston ended up losing that Series in a seventh game at Fenway.

Along with Fisk and Tiant, we had the Dropkick Murphys singing the national anthem, followed by a stirring rendition of the Fenway “anthem” Shipping Up to Boston, complete with Irish step dancers.

The Red Sox won their eighth World Series championship, the third-most of any major league team.

(A quick note to Boston fans who want to trash-talk their New York Yankee counterparts: The Bronx Bombers own 27 world championships – a fact your Yankee friends have probably reminded you of a few hundred times). Even Cardinal fans can take comfort in their 11 previous championships.

In this new century, Boston now has the most titles with three – in 2004, 2007 and this year. The Yankees, Cardinals and San Francisco Giants have all won twice this century.

Dynasty?

The best part about this championship was it followed the absolute stinker of 2012, when Boston finished 69-93. How dramatic was this turnaround? No major league team ever experienced such a lousy season, then won the World Series the next year.

From worst to first (you have – and will – hear that phrase an awful lot).

Boston took a 6-0 lead Wednesday and never faltered.

But there is no need for angst over a Game 7.

With a 6-1 lead, Fenway cheered every out made in the ninth.

Then it was over.

The players leaped upon each other. They hugged. Later they donned their ski glasses and then doused each other with champagne.

A thriller.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: kthomas@pressherald.comTwitter: @ClearTheBases

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