November 1, 2013

Steve Solloway: Sox World Series win was pure joy

BOSTON — From John Lackey tipping his cap to the Red Sox fans who once despised him, to Koji Uehara pointing to the heavens at game’s end, the scenes all fit.

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At one time the uniform was Carl Crawford’s, who did little while wearing the number in Boston. Wednesday it stood for a team – the best team in the magical season of ’13.

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From David Ortiz getting the intentional walks that bestowed respect, to Stephen Drew breaking out of his horrid slump with a home run, it all fit.

From fans crying “We did it!” and to the men and women of the Boston Police Department gradually relaxing their heavy police presence in the streets around Fenway Park, it all fit.

The Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 6 on Wednesday night to win the World Series. Expressions of pure joy drowned out the heavy-handed chest-beating you’ve come to expect.

A city and a region celebrated with few instances of violence. The next day’s victory hangover wasn’t so bad.

It all fit.

A baseball team that needed forgiveness for a month (the terrible collapse of September 2011) and a season of bad attitude and bad play (the whole of 2012) got exactly that.

What can be stronger than the return and the embrace of prodigal sons? Lackey remade his body and his image after arm surgery forced him to sit for all of 2012. Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia again became team leaders.

Uehara appeared seemingly out of of nowhere when closers Joel Hanrahan and Andrew Bailey were lost to injuries for the season.

The kid players, plucked from Pawtucket and Portland, contributed.

John Farrell, the first-year Red Sox manager, set the tone with his diligence and honesty.

All season you steeled yourself against more disappointment. By Wednesday, cynicism and skepticism had been kicked to the curb.

That may have been the biggest surprise of all.

Amid all the revelry before and after Game 6, a replica Red Sox shirt was spotted with No. 13 on its back. That was the number of the oft-injured outfielder Carl Crawford, one of Boston’s best-paid players who was shipped to the Los Angeles Dodgers last summer with Josh Beckett and Adrian Gonzalez, two other gold diggers.

On this No. 13 worn by a male fan, Crawford’s name was obliterated by white tape. That fit, too.

You cheered the 2004 World Series victory because the 86 years of not winning the big prize had become an unbearable burden. You cheered the 2007 victory because you longed for an era of consistency, a dynasty. You didn’t get it.

Four years later you were confronted by the image of too many selfish fat cats in the Red Sox clubhouse. The revelation that your heroes had come to this had stung.

That it was followed a year later by so many defeats and the management of Bobby Valentine, the unwitting and sometimes sympathetic clown, made it worse.

You saw years of retooling continuing with 2013. Instead you got a championship season. No one in a Red Sox uniform self-destructed Wednesday inside Fenway Park and few dressed in Red Sox garb self-destructed on city streets outside.

At first, the cries of “We did it!” sounded too over the top. What was your contribution to a World Series victory, Red Sox fans?

If ever there was a fan base that could will its team to a big victory, this was one example. Fenway Park was a cauldron of noise and vibes. The men on the field couldn’t ignore it.

Emotions were so positive, I didn’t find anyone who believed the Cards would win, forcing Game 7. For that matter, I didn’t see one Cardinals fan in the nine hours I was in the neighborhood.

“Tonight we know there will be a tomorrow,” said Luis Joniaux of Boston on Wednesday. “If we lose and there is Game 7 we know there will be no more tomorrows. We don’t want to see Game 7.”

A native of Ecuador who came to the United States nearly 30 years ago, he stood at the corner of Yawkey Way and Brookline, waiting for a friend. He took photos, from capturing the “Go Sox” spelled in lights on the John Hancock skyscraper to the sights around him. The photos were up on his Facebook page Thursday.

Joniaux didn’t have tickets to Game 6 or a Game 7. “I wanted to come and be part of this, even if it means just standing here.”

He wasn’t alone.

Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

ssolloway@pressherald.com

Twitter: SteveSolloway

 

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